How to Dribble in Soccer
To become a soccer player, you need to have a firm grasp all of the technical fundamentals, such as:
- Passing a soccer ball
- Receiving a soccer ball
- Kicking a soccer ball correctly
- How to head a soccer ball when attacking
- Heading a soccer ball when defending
There is one aspect of soccer which is missing from our list though, and that is dribbling. Dribbling in soccer may seem like an easy enough skill to learn and to execute, but there are so many different factors to think about when dribbling a soccer ball. As with anything, the more you practice dribbling in soccer, the better you become.
Some famous soccer players who are known for their dribbling include Ryan Giggs, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Don’t just think about dribbling in soccer being used for attacking reasons though, there are many defensive reasons for dribbling, and retaining possession of the soccer ball.
How to Dribble a Soccer Ball
Dribbling a soccer ball requires a lot of finesse, it’s not something you’re going to be able to practice for a couple of weeks and have it mastered. The true experts at dribbling in soccer are the players who’ve put in months, if not years of practice. Some players are so good at dribbling that they make it look like the ball is attached to their foot, or they have a magnet which attracts the soccer ball. Wouldn’t we all love that?
With that being said, if you really put in the hard work you can become a much better dribbler.
Firstly, start off with the basics. When dribbling, a soccer player predominantly pushes the ball forward with their laces. You need to practice pushing the ball forward with your laces and dragging it back with the sole of your foot. Make sure to do this with both your left and right foot and do it often. Start off slowly, then once you get a feel for the soccer ball, then progress onto faster movements, and time and see how many you can get in a certain period of time. This may seem like a simple enough task, but it’s this basic skill that will help you with dribbling in soccer. Remember, even the most complicated soccer moves can be broken down into something simple, and with repetition, can be mastered. Eventually, this will become second nature.
To progress from this basic move, practice doing it while running. This is more ‘game-like’. You should be looking to push the ball no more than a foot in front of you with each touch. If you do push it further ahead of you, a quicker opponent may be able to get to the ball sooner, and you lose possession of the ball. When you watch professional soccer players dribble, their touch is very light, they barely touch it, and it doesn’t go very far in front of them at all. They are very comfortable dribbling in soccer, and can do it at very high-speed.
The quicker you can dribble with the ball, and if you can retain the soccer ball, the bigger asset you will be to your team. Wide players are generally the players who need to dribble the most often during a game of soccer, but attacking midfielders also need to be able to dribble at a high level.
Counter attacking soccer makes use of quick break-aways which either involve pacey players, or with quick passes. Imagine you’re defending a corner, and you leave your two quickest players further up the field. With a defensive headed clearance, the ball breaks to one of those players but they can’t dribble effectively and then the defensive team are put under pressure again. Imagine that situation again, but this time with a player who can dribble. They break quickly, and give their defenders a break. But not only are they retaining possession of the ball, they’re creating attacking opportunities. Alternatively, if it’s during the last few minutes of a game, and the team who are leading want to keep the ball for as long as possible, they may try to dribble it to the far corner of the field – this takes up valuable time and runs down the clock – a team would be unable to do this with players who couldn’t dribble.
Good dribbling in soccer is not just about players who are technically able to dribble a soccer ball, but they also know when not to dribble. For instance, you wouldn’t dribble in front of your own goal – that creates havoc, and if you lost the ball, then the other team may have a great chance of scoring. When you’re the attacking team, if there is a player to pass the ball to who has a better scoring opportunity, or a player who is able to dribble into space or retain the ball, then you need to pass them the ball. Don’t try to be over-extravagant and try too many tricks and moves, there will be another opportunity to try those, avoid giving the ball away if you can (however, if you feel you have the beating of the defender, then by all means attempt to dribble around them, but if you lose the ball when doing so, be prepared to track back immediately and help win the ball back).
In the modern game, especially in travel and college soccer, coaches want players who are able to play soccer with their brain. If you can demonstrate during tryouts that you know the right times to dribble, and the right times to pass, then you’re already a step ahead of other players competing for a roster spot.