In order to control the soccer ball successfully every time here are the 5 Easy Steps:
TO CONTROL OR NOT TO CONTROL?
Before you attempt to control the soccer ball, decide if you even need to control the ball in the first place. Sometimes you can actually fake that you are going to control the ball, then at the last second you let the ball continue in its path, deceiving the defender.
WHAT WILL BE THE END PRODUCT BE?
Next you must decide what the end product is going to be once you have controlled the ball i.e. do you want to control the ball to set up a shot, to move into space away from a defender, to keep possession, to pass the ball to a teammate.
2. CHOOSE THE PART OF THE BODY YOU ARE GOING TO USE TO CONTROL THE BALL.
If you are going to use a foot, decide if you are also going to use the grass to help as well. Many people refer to this as “trapping the ball”. Trapping the ball involves using the foot and the grass together to control the ball. You must time it so that as the ball lands on the grass, you use your instep or bottom of your foot to trap the ball onto the grass.
As well as the instep and bottom of the foot, you can also control the ball with the top of the foot, the thigh, the chest and the head. Once you have decided which body part to use, you move on to the next step.
3. MOVE INTO LINE WITH THE BALL
Move your body into line with the path of the ball using small steps and be on your toes to make last second adjustments as needed.
THE MORE WORK YOU DO BEFORE THE BALL ARRIVES, THE EASIER AND MORE EFFECTIVE THE WORK WILL BE WHEN THE BALL ARRIVES.
Often I see players not move enough before the ball arrives and then they have to stretch to the ball making it much more difficult to control. You need to move both side to side and forward/backward to meet the ball at the correct place so that you control the ball with the chosen body part.
4. CUSHION THE BALL
Allow the ball to connect with the selected body part and cushion the ball by withdrawing the body part as the two connect relaxing the muscles involved and allowing your body part to absorb the energy of the moving ball. Avoid being tense and rigid, this will result in the ball bouncing off the body part. You want the ball to simply slow down and drop in the required space. Remember playing “egg toss” when you were younger? The same principle applies.
5. CONTROL THE BALL INTO THE DESIRED SPACE.
Be aware of the space around you and control the ball into that space, remembering again what you want to do with the ball such as a shot or a pass. For example, if you want to produce a shot you would control the ball in front of the foot you will shoot with and at the correct distance and angle from it so that you can then step into the ball and take the shot.
In order to significantly improve as a soccer player it is essential that you spend the necessary time learning to control the ball. Your “First Touch” as it is often referred to is so important and it is often the factor that separates average players from very good players.