Dribbling is a vital skill for any player to learn. A good dribbler can maintain control of the ball even under pressure. Statistics show that teams that have a greater percentage of possession usually win the game. To become a better dribbler, you have to consistently work at it until it becomes second nature. Dribbling is like a foreign language: The more you practice, the greater your fluency.
- Learn to use all surfaces of the foot such as the sole, the inside outside of the foot, and the instep (the laces). In speed dribbling, you will usually use your instep. The outside and inside of your feet are good for allowing you to cut the ball and keep control of the ball. Always remember to maintain good posture and keep low, with knees slightly bent.
- Use small touches to keep the ball close to you. Practice lightly advancing the ball forward with each step. This gives you ultimate control. If you are just starting, you will realize that if you use more forceful kicks and have to run to regain possession, it is much more difficult to control the ball.
- Keep your head up. Even when you lose the ball, try to keep your head up and look for it, kind of like a blind man learning to "see" with his other senses. This is important because you need to be aware of your surroundings. When practicing, try to look up completely but in game situations, you may need to take a look at the ball every now and then. If you are constantly looking at the ball, a defender can easily sneak up on you and steal the ball.
- A great way to beat an opponent is by using an abrupt change of pace. Commonly called the stop and go, the player simply has to stop the ball with his sole and in quick succession advance forward with great speed. This change of pace causes the defender to relax his pressure and give you enough space to bypass him.
- Always keep your body between the ball and the defender. When a defender applies pressure to you, try to keep the foot with the ball farthest from him. Use your hands to create space but take care not to foul your opponent.
- Learn to use your off foot. If you watch professional soccer, you will notice that the best strikers have an excellent left-footed strike. At first, it will feel very awkward. With patience, you can use your off foot almost as well as your preferred side by kicking the ball against a wall with that foot. At first, the ball may not even go in the intended direction but with practice you will become accustomed to using it.
- Use drills and exercises to practice. One great way to practice dribbling is to set up a line of cones and practice dribbling right and left. Vary the pace and use both feet. Envision that you are in an actual game and the cones are defenders. To make yourself more comfortable dribbling the ball, simply practice touching the top of the ball with the sole of your feet, alternating your feet. The ball should not move and you should try not to look at the ball. Jump roping is a great way to improve your conditioning but it also helps you to improve your coordination. Try skipping rope for 5 minutes nonstop (when you mess up, simply continue), then increase by 5 every week until you can jump rope for 30 minutes or more. Remember: No pain no gain!
- If you have ever watched a broadcast soccer game, you may have heard the announcer describe a player as "calm, cool and collected." There is also a fourth c: confidence. These 'four Cs' will allow you to maintain control even when the defenders put a lot of pressure on you. If you have confidence in yourself, you will have no problem dribbling the ball well. Always remember that you are in control of the ball and the ball only goes where you want it to go.