Dribbling drills in soccer are among the essential qualities that make up a good player. This makes more sense when you consider most soccer icons’ style of play. Take Leo Messi, for instance. While he’s not blessed with an intimidating skeletal system, everyone agrees that this 6-time Ballon d’Or winner is the ultimate dribbling genius.
When you couple his soccer dribble drills with his magnificent speed and endurance, you understand why this Barcelona superstar is the greatest goal-scoring machine of all time. The same can be said for almost all soccer legends, including CR7, Sergio Agüero, and Kaka- the former Milan and Real Madrid ‘piece of talent.’
At the surface, dribbling is all about moving with the ball across the pitch. But at the core of it, soccer dribbling skills enable your players to beat a defender and create space to pass, shoot, or dribble in another direction.
Players who possess excellent soccer foot skills own the pitch. However, dribbling alone doesn’t make them soccer gods. This is just one of the many aspects that are required in the game. Ideally, the coach should complement soccer ball-handling drills with soccer conditioning drills to improve other essential attributes, such as speed, agility, explosiveness, and endurance.
Below, we’ve explained soccer drills (dribbling techniques) that develop confident and effective soccer players.
How to Master Dribbling in Soccer
Learning how to dribble in soccer is not that easy, especially for young players. Here are some key components of dribbling that will help your players beat defenders easily;
- Play with head up - you’ve probably told your players this a lot, but you need to keep reminding them. Playing with the head up is necessary to analyze the environment to make efficient decisions depending on the position of other teammates and the opposing defenders.
- Practice fake and feints- feints in soccer are 1v1 body movements that trick an opposing defender that you’re about to do X but end up zipping off and doing Y.
- Always keep the ball close to your feet- during soccer ball control drills, encourage the players to use small choppy touches to keep the ball as close to their feet as possible. This is necessary for quick pace and direction reactions in response to the defender’s actions.
- Balance- this is the primary determinant of how well your players will remain in control of the ball. Balance also boosts speed and makes it easy to react quickly without losing the ball. The coach should identify ideal ladder exercises and soccer drills with cones that focus on strengthening balance. Preferably, choose activities that force them to lower their center of gravity and spread their arms out.
- Confidence- your players’ excellence in dribbling won’t mean a lot if they are not confident enough to face off an oncoming opponent. Confidence will help them believe that they can utilize their soccer ball skills to outshine players from the opposing team.
There’s no shortage of soccer ball-handling drills that will develop your players’ dribbling skills. Here are the latest soccer techniques for dribbling that your players can try today.
Drills to Improve Dribbling in Soccer
1. Round to Score
In this drill, the player with the ball is supposed to dribble around 2 opponents before taking a shot at the goal. You’ll need a marked area (half a soccer pitch is enough), 1 goal, and at least 2 balls.
This is one of the best drills for soccer dribbling that train your players how to keep their ball high while moving with the ball. Another objective of this technique is to develop quick footwork and fast direction changes depending on the player’s position in the pitch and the opposing player’s movements. This is a simple drill that may also be used for warming up.
Designate one player as the goalkeeper to stand in front of the goal. Have 2 defenders take their position right in front of the goalkeeper. There should be a distance of 3 meters between the 1st and the 2nd defender and another 3 meters between the 2nd defender and the goalkeeper. The other players make the offensive squad. They should stand in a line, each with a ball at the starting point some distance away from the first defender.
- On command, the first offensive player dribbles the ball from the starting point towards the first defender who tries to steal the ball.
- After dribbling past the first defender, the offensive player then tackles the second defender.
- Having gone past the 2 defenders, the offensive player must take on the goal to score.
- The second offensive player can start moving towards the defender when the 1st player shoots at the goal.
- Encourage the offensive players to keep their heads up to increase awareness.
- Ask the players to move at a faster pace towards the defenders.
- They should be creative to employ various techniques to beat the defenders.
- As they dribble, motivate them to use the inside part of their boot when dribbling past defenders and outside when running in open areas.
2. Straight Cone Dribble Drill
This is a fast drill that involves dribbling around a series of cones. You’ll need 10 cones and at least one ball.
The key highlight of these dribbling skills in soccer practice drills is to develop close ball control. It trains your players to use soft choppy touches to keep the ball close to their feet. This is an important attribute that allows the players to react quickly to challenges coming from nearby opposition defenders.
Arrange the cones on a straight line with a distance of 1 meter between them.
- The 1st player stands by the first cone.
- iTo start, the coach, trainer, or another player hits the ball at a high velocity to the 1st player.
- The player quickly controls the ball and starts dribbling around the cones while avoiding hitting them.
- After dribbling around the last cone, the players sprints as fast as they can to the first cone.
- Depending on the number of cones in the setup, the 2nd player can start as soon as the 1st player is halfway through the cones.
- Repeat until all the players have repeated the drill at least 5 times or as long as the coach instructs.
- Encourage the players to dribble past the cones in the shortest time possible.
- The players should practice dribbling around the cones using the inside and outside of both boots.
- During the drill, remind the players to bend their knees slightly to create a lower center of gravity and spread their hands to develop balance.
3. Sprint to Compete and Score
In this drill, the players run around cones before competing for the ball inside the box. You’ll need several balls and either 2 small goals (no goalkeeper required) or 2 big goals with goalkeepers.
These are multipurpose cone dribbling drills for soccer that improve dribbling technique and speed and tackling skills.
Use 4 cones to mark a 40m by 40m square grid. Position the goalposts between 2 cones directly opposite each other. Divide the players into 2 equal groups. Let each group stand along one goal line near the right-hand side cone.
- To start, the coach shouts, “go!”
- At the command, the first player from each group sprints towards the left-hand cone on the opposite goal post.
- The players must go around the cones quickly and then dash to compete for the ball that the coach has thrown inside the square grid.
- Upon getting the ball, the player attempts to put it inside their own goal.
- The player without the ball should try to tackle the other player to make it challenging to score.
- After the ball has been kicked toward the goal, the players join their original groups at the back of the line.
- The players should aim to be the first at the ball by sprinting at their maximum speed and using few moves to go round the cones.
- Encourage the players to employ different tactics, for instance, change of direction and pace to beat the defending player.
- Motivate them to keep their head up for better awareness of the ball and the opposing player.
4. Reroute and Score
In this drill, the player with the ball has to scan the environment and determine which of the three goals available to shoot at. This drill uses at least 8 players- the more, the better. You’ll need a 20x20 yard area, 4 cones to mark the grid, and 6 target goals.
This is a vital drill for players looking to develop professional soccer skills. It trains them to react quickly before the defenders and goalkeepers have decided on the best course of action. Smart attackers will utilize speed, quick footwork and direction changes, and feint and fake skills to outshine the defenders.
Use the 4 cones to mark a 20 by 20 square yard. Next, position 2 target goals on each of the 3 sides so that the fourth side of the grid is empty. Designate 6 defensive players and position 2 on each goal line between the goalposts. Ask another player (server) to join any of the defenders. The offensive players should make a line along the empty side of the pitch.
- At the coach’s cue, the first attacker kicks the ball to the server and immediately rushes inside the pitch.
- The server passes the ball back to the attacker now inside the field.
- As soon as the server has received the ball, the defenders rush to cover the goals on their side.
- The attacker has to decide quickly on where to score. The players need to employ different tactics, including changing direction and pace to trick the defenders and score.
- Repeat for all the attackers and let them switch roles.
- Encourage the players to maintain a short distance between the boot and the ball to allow quick reactions.
- The offensive players should keep their heads up to scan the 6 defenders.
- Motivate the players to use different pieces of skills to score.
5. Random Dribble Drill
This drill closely mimics the environment that the players will find themselves in a real game. It requires dribbling the ball through a web of irregularly placed cones within a very short time. You’ll need 15-20 cones, a ball, and a stopwatch.
The major objective of this drill is to teach your players how to read the environment quickly to make quick decisions to beat their markers. It’s a good exercise to add to your workout routine if you want to improve your players dribbling speed and quick decision-making.
Scatter the cones in no regular manner all around the training space. The distance between the cones should vary. The first player stands near one of the cones with a ball. The coach/trainer stands nearby to observe the movements of the player.
- To start the drill, the coach presses ‘start’ on the stopwatch and commands the player to start dribbling. These 2 should happen almost instantly.
- The player starts dribbling through the cones without following any pattern.
- The trainer follows the player’s movements and pushes him/her to move faster and change directions often.
- At the last cone, the coach stops the stopwatch and notes the time taken by the player to dribble through all the cones. Push the players to work harder.
- As the players get better in subsequent drills, increase the number of cones in the grid to make spaces in between shorter.
- Encourage the players to use the inside and outside of both feet to control the ball.
- Push them to move faster and show creativity with the ball.
Speed, agility, and quick reactions are vital attributes when perfecting different dribbling drills in soccer. Essentially, you should make your exercises fun, and enjoyable to keep your players motivated even when working out doesn’t sound appealing. Blazepod offers you a fun way of building your players' reflexes and reaction times- two of the most important traits that help players escape their opponents quickly and effectively change direction as needed.