How to Dribble Better in Soccer

Dribbling in soccer may seem completely different than dribbling in basketball, but there are many similarities and some of the skills are the same. In both cases, control of the ball is key, and keeping the ball close to you at all times, and away from offenders, is important as you edge toward the goal.

Here are some simple strategies to practice in order to keep better control of the soccer ball.

Kick softly

Touch the ball, don’t kick it. Every time you contact the ball us soft, more gentle touches, which may seem like it is slowing you down. However, when you get accustomed to it, you will master more control of the ball.

The more your foot touches the ball, the more control you have, so think short taps rather than longer kicks to advance the ball yourself.

Keep close

Pass the ball back and forth between the insides of your feet, bend your knees and keep your back straight while doing it. You should practice changing directions fast while advancing the ball. Try stopping the ball suddenly and going another direction. 

The ball should be a few feet in front of you rather than several yards ahead when galloping with the ball. Be aware that your body should be between the ball and an opponent in order to prevent it being intercepted. Keeping the ball close to you makes it tougher to steal. 

Young Soccer Player Dribbling Past a Defender
Use your whole body to keep an opponent away from the ball.

Stay focused

You don’t need to keep your eye on the ball the whole time, but keep the ball in the lower edge of your span of vision. 

Beginners tend to keep their eye on the ball the whole time, but it’s more important to see where you are going, and where your teammates are to pass the ball to, or for you to find an opening for you to get to the goal. If the ball is in the lower part of your field of vision, you can keep aware of what’s happening on the field.

Change speeds

The easiest way to get the ball intercepted is if you are dribbling at the same speed all the time. If you switch it up and change speeds, faster and slower, and in different directions, it will be more confusing to offenders. 

To speed dribble, your foot should be turned in at the ankle with the front foot down, so that the ball contacts just above the middle toe.

Start slow, keeping control at a moderate pace, then try rushing with the ball. Try exploding with the ball by dribbling as fast as you can and then stop.

Protect the ball

Use your whole body to shield the ball, including your arms, legs and shoulders. Lean into and over the ball, and control the ball with the foot that is furthest from your opponent. 

Keep your arms out at all times and use them to brush past players, and maintain your balance while keeping others away.

Same foot forward

When breaking to a gallop or rush with your dribble, use the same foot forward every time you step forward. That keeps the ball close to your foot while advancing the ball. It will help you keep balance if you keep the leading edge of your foot forward.

Land on the front of your feet rather than the heel, because it will slow you down otherwise.

Change directions

Hop slightly when changing directions. Make the moves quick and try to keep your balance. Raise your knees high, it helps build momentum. 

Soccer player doing dribbling drills
Use cones or other obstacles to practice dribbling.

Cone dribbling

Set up half a dozen cones about three feet apart and weave the ball through the cones using one foot. Alternate using the leading edge of your foot and your instep to pass the ball back and forth between the cones. At the end, turn around and start back in the opposite direction with a different speed. 

If a cone falls you’re going too fast or lack control. Don’t use your dominant foot, work on your weaker foot, then switch. It’s best to be able to remain adept with both feet.

Pass the ball between the cones with one foot, then back with the other foot while weaving through the set of cones. This helps you learn how to control the ball when quickly changing directions. 

Try stopping the ball with the inner part of your foot before passing, but keep control as much as possible while moving through the cones.

Crossover dribbling

Pass the ball between the cones with one foot, then back with the other foot while weaving through the set of cones. This helps you learn how to control the ball when quickly changing directions. 

Try stopping the ball with the inner part of your foot before passing, but keep control as much as possible while moving through the cones.

Use some of these skills to dribble the ball, and check out other training suggestions on this Sportamix blog.