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Essential Skills for Soccer and How to Develop Them

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I watched the FA Cup finals between Manchester United and Chelsea over the weekend. It was an intense game in which Chelsea prove victorious over Manchester United. Even if I was a huge Manchester United fan, I enjoyed the game immensely because of the talent. Whoever watches these teams play would be impressed by the players of these big clubs. It got me to thinking how can these players get so great in what they do? I've been playing soccer for 20 years now but my skills are a far cry from theirs. So, what is the difference? What sets these players apart and how did they develop and got to the skill level they're at? What do they have that I lack? Here are some of the list of skill sets that make a player great and how to achieve and hone that skill.

1. Ball Handling - looking at pros, it seems the ball is literally glued to their feet and they can send the ball to any direction they choose to at will. This skill set is developed by being at ease with the ball at your feet. To achieve this, a player must be able to make a lot of touches with the ball. When I was in high school, our coach required us to do 1000 touches even before practice starts. You can do this by:

A. Juggling - this can be done individually or as a group by keeping the ball in the air and not allowing it to touch the ground. To get a better handle of the ball, move around while juggling. Find a grassy place and juggle the ball from one end to the other. Players often practice using their strong foot but I advise you also use your weak foot for juggling and keeping the ball in the air.

B. Roll Overs - Roll overs will help you control the ball. Be it sideways, backwards or forward, practice rolling the ball in each foot. In essence, you should be running while rolling the ball with the sole of your feet. Look for a grassy space to practice on.

2. Passing - there are one or two drills to help you improve your passing be it for a cross field pass or a 5- yard pass. Professionals control the pass to send it to a specific area.

A. Keep Away - Playing Keep Away will help your play in almost everything. But if you want to be more precise passing, play keep away with the goal of 1 to 2 feet wide at either end of the field. If you play keep away with a regular sized goal or no goal, the play often ends in the outskirts of the field. But if you set up your small goals, each team is forced to pass the ball at a confined space which develops passing which enables the team to get close enough to get to the goal.

3. Field Awareness - to play at a high level of skill and accuracy you should be aware of your surroundings. You should know where your team mates are before you pass the ball. Often when the player loses the ball, it may take long before the ball is passed to another player. If players know where their team mates are before passing the ball, possession will be maintained on a more consistent level. The best way to create awareness on the field and players around you would be to do one two touch passing drills.

A. One or Two Touch Passing Drills - it doesn't really matter what type of drill you do but what's important is how you execute and perform the drill. The rule is you cannot take more than one or two touches before passing the ball. If you do not have many touches to the ball to use, you are forced to look up and look around to see where your team mates are. By practicing this you will develop the habit of looking around before receiving the ball and passing it.

Professionals are professionals because of the skills they have in playing soccer at a competitive level. Practicing these drills will help you become a better soccer player.

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