Beginner’s Guide to Ball Control in Soccer


Are you looking to become a great soccer player? Playing soccer is one of the most fun pastimes there is. But to be a great soccer player, you will have to first master controlling the soccer ball. Being able to handle a soccer ball will help you establish a strong foundation in the sport to win more games. Control comes into play all through the game. Control can help you score goals, pass better, and be able to dribble down the field with speed. So, now we will expand upon the best ways to master this skill.

How to Control a Soccer Ball

Enclosed below are tips and techniques you can use to help you control the ball in soccer:

Keep the Ball Close to You.

Keeping the ball close to yourself is key to controlling it. Keeping the ball close to you ensures that you can always stop it or turn in a different direction. Kicking the ball too far ahead means that you potentially enable a defender to swipe it quickly. Staying on top of the ball will give you more ability to defend it by using your body or making a particular move.

Take Light Touches

Have a light touch when you have the ball. Don’t have a heavy foot or play like you have steel toe boots on. Instead, try to mimic a feather in how you handle the ball. Be very soft and agile. Playing a light touch will allow you to be extremely precise in your movements.

Anticipate How the Ball will Move on the Pitch

Players should try to predict things in soccer, such as how the ball will respond to the field. The field surface on greatly impacts how the ball will move. Some fields are known as playing “fast.” Faster playing fields mean that the ball can move quickly and easily across it. 

Do you find yourself fouling when trying to be aggressive. We can help! Check out our article on How to Be Aggressive with Fouling for tip and techniques to being aggressive without crossing the line and getting fouls called on you.         

Why is Ball Control Important in Soccer?

Ball Control Drill Soccer
Ball Control Drill Soccer

Fewer Turnovers

Having a higher level of ball control will ensure that you turn the ball over less to the opposing team. Turnovers occur when your team controls the ball, but then you lose the ball to the opponent. Ball control ensures that defenders can’t steal the ball away from your team easily.

Better Passes

Having good passes is essential in the game of soccer. Crisp, clean passes are something that pros heavily prioritize. Of course, ball control can greatly help bolster a team’s passing game. Control of the ball by individual players allows them to both send and receive passes more effectively.

More Goals

Ball control allows your team to maintain possession of the ball longer. By controlling the ball better and longer, players are more likely to get in position to score and get a good shot off. Expert scorers will use their skills to evade defenders and give themselves ample opportunity to score.

Looking to master kicking a soccer ball for accuracy? Power? Height? Then you must check out Our Complete Guide to Kicking a Soccer Ball.

Types of Ball Control in Soccer

Foot

You will spend the majority of your ball control attempts using your feet. Players use their feet when dribbling, passing, shooting, and more. It is probably the most important to prioritize because of how often your feet are used to impact the soccer ball.

Head

The head is often an overlooked tool in soccer. Skilled players use their heads to control the ball all the time. They can use it to direct the ball as a pass, receive it out of the air, or even shoot it. To control the ball with the head, players should use the upper forehead area to

Legs

Like the feet, using your legs is a frequently used method to control the ball. Balls that are off the ground but too high to trap with your feet need to be controlled with your legs.

How to Control a Ball on the Ground

Inside of Foot

Using the inside of the foot is a great way to control the ball. You can use the inside of the foot to make moves, pass, and shoot. Players should use their feet to pull the ball in close to them.

Outside of Foot

The outside of the foot is a great way to push the ball down the field. Players often dribble with the outside of their foot to move down the field faster. It’s natural to flick the ball with this maneuver.

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How to Control a Soccer Ball While Running

Keep Knees Slightly Bent and Lean Forward Over Ball

Slightly bend your knees and forward over the ball as you go to push the ball forward. This will give you a great base from which to start accelerating forward with the ball.

Using the Top Inside or Outside of Your Toes to Quickly Nudge Ball Forward

Players can use their toes to push the ball down the field in front of them. Using your toe is great when running because the player can generate more speed. However, you do lose control compared to using your laces or the inside foot.

Accelerate Off Back Foot While Nudging Ball Forward

One of the common things that happens is that players push the ball forward and then accelerate to catch it. This is not the best way to dribble while running because it create big gaps between you and the ball that can allow a defender to capture the ball.

Instead, try to push off your back foot while pushing the ball forward. This will get you to top speed quicker and will reduce the gap between you and the ball, reducing the ability for the defender to cut you off and get the ball.

Keep Head Up to See Where You are Going

This may seem obvious but most players don’t do it consistently. There is a tendency when dribbling the ball to look at our feet. However, this makes it difficult to move with pace while dribbling the ball and to avoid defenders looking to take the ball.

Practice dribbling without looking at your feet. You will be surprised how much you want to look. Start slow and increase your speed as you get better dribbling while looking forward. This might be the best tip for increasing your ball control while moving at pace.

How to Control a Soccer Ball Out of the Air

With the Chest

One of the most natural ways to control the ball out of the air is by using one’s chest. The chest provides a way to receive the ball while also competing against a defender. Players will often fight for balls that are high up in the air by jumping and using their chests to direct the ball where they want it. Using your chest also prevent an opponent from getting the ball, even if you cannot control it.

Using the Foot

Players should use the foot to receive the ball out of the air when they have the means to do so. Players can use their feet to try to “catch” the ball from the air. They should try to lightly receive the ball to maintain control of it. They should be careful not to have a rough approach with this technique, as it could send the ball flying away. Players can perform this skill by raising your foot high up in the air as the ball comes down and then bringing your foot down with the ball.

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