Any seasoned coach or professional will tell you this: the art of mastering a sport, any sport, comes with perfecting the fundamentals first. After all, you can’t play the guitar like Jimi Hendrix if you haven’t grasped your basic scales. There has to be a place to start, an empirical method in which one gets better at soccer dribbling.
That same credo is true of any athletic undertaking. In this case, we’re going to be talking about soccer – and more specifically, the importance of dribbling a soccer ball. Dribbling in soccer is like dribbling in basketball: it’s essential to the flow of team play. It is the jet fuel on which the rest of the game runs, smoothly or otherwise.
With this knowledge fresh in your mind, we are going to give you some invaluable pro tips on how YOU can master the formative soccer dribbling techniques. In the following set of steps, you will hopefully start to pick up on some of the moves and techniques that you practice along your path to improving your soccer dribbling.
The best way to learn about proper dribbling is to run drills, right? If that commonly held wisdom can be said to be true – and we believe it is – then here are ten of our most essential soccer dribbling drills. Learn these, and you will be dribbling like a pro in no time at all.
1. Cone Drill
Soccer dribbling drills with cones are super effective, and this simple drill will help you stay in control and in charge of the general flow of the ball as you play. No defenders will be snagging the ball from you, not if you figure out how to master this drill. Simply line up six or more cones, several yards apart, and dribble through the cones without knocking any of them over. Repeat as needed, and switch off left to right if you need to.
“Doggies,” also known as “25’s,” are meant to strengthen your core and general conditioning. All of this is another way of saying: it’s a way of making you a better dribbler. Pro players frequently run this drill… which means, if it works for them, it should for you. In this drill, you’ll be dribbling between three to four separate cones, sprinting between them and indulging in rest intervals as needed. We recommend anywhere between six to ten sets of this drill for optimum results.
3. Dribble With A Partner
This awesome drill simultaneously enhances a player’s ability to keep the ball in game play, and also the ability to give and receive passes. Simply have a partner bounce the ball in front of you and then pass the ball back and forth between you, twenty to forty times, always with the inside of your foot. If you feel like mixing the process up, feel free to switch feet, repeating the same pattern as needed.
4. Random Dribble
If you’re looking to improve your general passing ability as well as your turning speed, this is the drill to focus on. This is a fast, speedy drill, one that is supposed to be executed at a brisk pace. In the drill, players work in tandem, moving through a precarious arrangement of cones. Some soccer novices might struggle with this one at first, but we promise you, this will boost your game in the long run.
5. Straight Cone Dribble
A big part of being a great soccer playing lies in one’s skill for keeping the ball within a short, confined space during game play. This means always being in firm control of the ball, and never giving the opposition an inch. The straight cone drill is designed to help you with just that: establishing and maintaining control of the ball. Set up ten to fifteen cones in a straight line. A trainer or fellow player should then lob the ball at you, at which point you will attempt to exert control the ball by dribbling throughout the cones with both feet.
6. Zig-Zag Dribble
This somewhat self-explanatory basic soccer dribbling drill is designed to help you harness control over the velocity of the ball, which can be a deceptively tricky thing to do. Simply set up a series of cones in a zigzag pattern, a couple yards apart from each other (be sure to have them stretch out to a manageable length). The first to start dribbling will do so outside the cones, zigging and zagging all the while, until they reach the end point, whereby they must effectively start the drill over again while the rest of the players follow suit.
7. Closed-Space Dribbling
Hey, if this drill works for the superstar soccer phenoms of the Los Angeles Galaxy, it should be a piece of cake for you! This drill also comes in handy when you find yourself boxed into a tight spot during a game, seemingly, with no way out. Simply set up a quartet of cones several yards apart then stand in a confined space with one additional partner and a ball, and attempt to dribble while your partner tries to steal the ball from you. Feel free to switch positions if and when your partner manages to intercept the ball.
8. Figure Eight Dribble
Seven might be the magic number, but when it comes to the game of soccer, best to not rule out eight. The idea with this drill is to create two grids, about five yards apart, separating them with training sticks (the training sticks will come in handy later). Players should try to dribble in figure-eight formations around the cones without knocking them over, both to the left and the right, so as to master working the ball with the inside of the foot.
9. Round The Circle Dribble
A truly memorable soccer game is all about showcasing a kind of athletic consistency, and what better place to achieve that then in a practice drill? Place a cone in the center of the field, with a cyclical circle formation of at least ten to fifteen cones surrounding it. Players will maneuver inside the circular cone formation, executing short, swift touches on the ball, repeating at increasing speeds and in varying sets as required.
10. Round The Square Dribble
As you could probably surmise from the title of this last bit here, this drill is quite similar to the last one that we described, only with one major geometrical difference. This is a drill that is intended to keep players aware of their constantly changing surroundings as they keep the ball in motion. Players are to move within a square formation of cones, dribbling with the inside of their feet, ready to switch things up at the sound of a coach’s whistle. Perform this drill until you can run it like clockwork.
These are obviously just some of the drills you can run that will gradually improve your dribbling skills. Feel free to do independent research and see what other, similar drills, apart from the ones we’ve listed, might be right for you.
Obviously, be sure to practice these drills safely, and with appropriate social distancing guidelines in mind – the pandemic is still very much in effect here in America, and it’s important that if we’re going to practice these drills at all, that we do it with other people’s safety in mind.
More resources for drills, tactics and content to help develop your skills as a player.