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Essential Skills for Soccer and How to Develop Them

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Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to watch the FA Cup final between Manchester United and Chelsea. It was a fierce game in which Chelsea eventually proved victorious. And even though I am a huge United fan, I enjoyed the game immensely. Why? The talent level was so high. The players on these two massive clubs are so good at what they do that anyone who watches them can’t help but be impressed.It got me to thinking, how can a player become so good? I have been playing soccer for over 20 years, but I am no where near their skill level. So, what is the difference. Well, the following are a few things that professional players possess and I lack. Below, you will see a short list of skill sets that make players great and how to develop those particular skill sets.

1. Ball Handling: Upon watching professionals, it seems as if the ball is literally glued to their feet. Where they go, the ball goes too. This skill set is developed by becoming comfortable with the ball at your feet. To do this, a player must get as many touches as possible each day. When I played in high school, our coach made us get 1,000 touches on the ball before practice would even begin. You can do this by doing the following:

- Juggling. This can be done alone or with a group, but keep the ball in the air. Don’t let it touch the ground, ever. But, unlike traditional juggling, to get a better feel for the ball, juggle while moving. Find a grassy nook and juggle the ball from one end to the other. Also, instead of using your strong foot (almost everyone prefers one foot to the other), try to keep the ball in the air using your weaker foot.

- Roll Overs: Whether you are going side to side, backwards or forwards, roll overs will help your control. Find a field of some sort and practice rolling the ball with each foot. However, instead of just rolling the ball and watching it, use each step you take to roll the ball again. Essentially, you should be running and rolling the ball with the sole of your foot at the same time.

2. Passing. Whether it is a cross-field pass or a 5-yard pass, professionals are right on the money. They pass the ball to a specific spot as opposed to a general area. To mimic the accuracy of professionals, there are one or two main drills you can do to increase your skill level.

- Keep Away. Playing keep away can help you in just about every way imaginable. But if you want to develop precision passing, play keep away with small goals of 1-2 feet wide at either end of the field. If you play keep away with a regular sized goal or no goal at all, the play tends to take place on the outskirts of the playing field. But by setting up small goals, each team is forced to pass the ball within the confines of a small area in order to get close enough to the goal to score.

3. Field Awareness. In order to play at a high level, you must know exactly where your teammates are. Many times, when a player looses possession, he or she has taken too long to pass the ball to another player. But, if players know where their teammates are before they need to pass the ball, possession will be retained on a more consistent basis. The best way to become more aware of the field and players around you is as follows.

- One- or Two-touch passing drills. It doesn’t really matter what type of drills you do in this case. However, the way you perform the drill is extremely important. The rule is you cannot take more than one or two touches on the ball before passing it. This seems a little hasty, but if you do not have many touches to use, then you are forced to pick your head up and take a look around you. By doing this, you will develop the habit of looking around you before receiving the ball so you know where you are going to pass beforehand.

There are many reasons why professionals are professionals. But, the aforementioned skills are necessary for anyone to play soccer at a competitive level. Performing these drills will help you become a better and more influential player.

This article was written by Nishan Wilde at Robbins Sports and Athletics

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