In a sport like soccer, which requires a high level of dexterity, training on your own is a foolproof way to accelerate your development and improve your performance. Physical ability and tactical awareness are huge parts of soccer success, but if a player is not supremely comfortable and confident with the soccer ball, he or she will be unable to impact the game the way he or she should.
Maradona, considered by many to be the most skillful and dynamic soccer player of all time, spent tons of time on his own with a ball. Sometimes he would even forgo team training to hold his own individual practice. He knew early on that mastery of the soccer ball would set him apart, especially with his smaller stature at 5-foot-5.
In a soccer match, how much time do you actually spend with the ball at your feet? In a French study that looked at 30 First Division matches over the course of two seasons, researchers found that players had an average of 47 possessions per match and two touches on the ball per possession. In a 90-minute match, that is not a lot of time spent with the soccer ball.
Yet, hopefully you can see how relying on team training and games to improve your specific skills is not enough.
"Repetition is the mother of skill, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment."
– Zig Ziglar
The great thing about a sport like soccer is that you can practice your skills pretty much anywhere. All you need is a ball, a pair of shoes and some cones. For passing and receiving, if you don't have a buddy, a wall works great.
The video below demonstrates four drills you can do on your own, two that require a wall or a partner and two that do not.
1. First Touch Clean-Up
2. Off the Wall Receiving
3. Fancy Footwork
4. Juggle Up, Receive, Turn and Burst