7 Simple Drills for Building Better Soccer Foot Skills

The more comfortable young soccer players can get with the ball at their feet, the higher their potential will be.

The more comfortable young soccer players can get with the ball at their feet, the higher their potential will be.

While kids in soccer-crazed countries like Brazil and Spain learn the importance of composure and creativity on the ball from an early age, Americans have long lagged behind in their development of these essential skills. Kids have their entire athletic careers to get stronger and faster, and many of those traits come with physical maturation. Since every kid develops differently, the strongest and fastest 8-year-old is rarely the strongest and fastest 18-year-old. By teaching every player a strong foundation of foot skills, we give them the best chance for success when the games start mattering more and the competition gets more intense. Research has found that skill, not speed, strength, balance, size or endurance, is the ultimate predictor of in-game success. The earlier we can start building skill, the better.

"We have to teach kids at a young age to be technical," says Attila Csiszar, head coach and director of Upper 90 FC, an elite youth soccer program based in northeast Ohio. The following seven foot skills drills can be implemented with players of any age to help them build an excellent foundation of ball-handling abilities.

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The more comfortable young soccer players can get with the ball at their feet, the higher their potential will be.

While kids in soccer-crazed countries like Brazil and Spain learn the importance of composure and creativity on the ball from an early age, Americans have long lagged behind in their development of these essential skills. Kids have their entire athletic careers to get stronger and faster, and many of those traits come with physical maturation. Since every kid develops differently, the strongest and fastest 8-year-old is rarely the strongest and fastest 18-year-old. By teaching every player a strong foundation of foot skills, we give them the best chance for success when the games start mattering more and the competition gets more intense. Research has found that skill, not speed, strength, balance, size or endurance, is the ultimate predictor of in-game success. The earlier we can start building skill, the better.

"We have to teach kids at a young age to be technical," says Attila Csiszar, head coach and director of Upper 90 FC, an elite youth soccer program based in northeast Ohio. The following seven foot skills drills can be implemented with players of any age to help them build an excellent foundation of ball-handling abilities.

*With the help of Csiszar and T3 Performance, we've created an instructional video for each drill. To find them, simply head to the playlist at the top of this article, or click the "watch video" links in the article below

1. Toe Touches

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This soccer foot skills drill trains players to control the ball with the underside of their feet while moving both forwards and back. These simple actions play a huge role in ball control, particularly in tight spaces.

  • Set two cones up 10-15 yards apart.
  • Starting at cone one, roll the ball forward via alternating touches with the sole of your foot (specifically, the area right below your toes).
  • Once you get halfway to cone two, quickly turn and move backwards while pulling the ball along with you via alternating touches with the sole of your foot.
  • Once you pass cone two, repeat the same sequence back to cone one.
  • Focus on keeping the ball close to your body.
  • As you get better, strive to perform the drill with your eyes up as opposed to staring down at the ball.
  • As you get more comfortable, increase your speed.
  • Each player should perform 10 reps (going from one cone to the other counts as one rep).

2. Sole Rolls

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This soccer foot skills drill trains players to control the ball with the underside of their feet while moving laterally. This is a basic dribbling move that can help players get around defenders and avoid tackles.

  • Set two cones up 10-15 yards apart.
  • Line up in a lateral stance next to cone one.
  • Using the sole of the foot on your trail leg, roll the ball forward.
  • Step with your opposite leg.
  • Continue to roll the ball forward with the sole of your trail leg foot while stepping with the opposite leg.
  • Strive to do this in a "1-2" rhythm, counting out lout if needed.
  • Keep the ball close to your body.
  • As you get better, strive to perform the drill with your eyes up as opposed to staring down at the ball.
  • As you get more comfortable, increase your speed.
  • Each player should perform 10 reps with both their left and right foot (going from one cone to the other counts as one rep).

3. Outside-Inside Touches

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This soccer foot skills drill trains players to control the ball with both the inside and the outside surface of their foot. The more surfaces you're comfortable using to control the ball, the more prepared you'll be to handle the chaos of competition.

  • Set two cones up 10-15 yards apart.
  • Starting at cone one, touch the ball with the outside of your right foot, then the inside of your right foot, then the outside of your left foot, then the inside of your left foot.
  • Keep your toe pointing down as you make contact with the ball.
  • Continue following this touch sequence as you make your way to cone two.
  • Keep the ball close to your body.
  • As you get better, strive to perform the drill with your eyes up as opposed to staring down at the ball.
  • As you get more comfortable, increase your speed.
  • Each player should perform 10-12 reps (going from one cone to the other counts as one rep).

4. Touch, Touch, Roll

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This soccer foot skills drill integrates inside foot touches with sole rolls, helping players get comfortable integrating the move into their normal dribbling.

  • Set two cones up 10-15 apart.
  • Starting at cone one, touch the ball with the inside of your right foot, then the inside of your left foot, then roll the ball with your right sole, then touch with the inside of your left foot, touch with the inside of your right foot, then roll the ball with your left sole.
  • Follow this sequence all the way down to cone two.
  • Keep the ball close to your body.
  • As you get better, strive to perform the drill with your eyes up as opposed to staring down at the ball.
  • As you get more comfortable, increase your speed.
  • Each player should perform 10 reps (going from one cone to the other counts as one rep).

5. Step Over Rolls

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This soccer foot skills drill trains a different variation of the sole roll and gets the player comfortable with having the ball underneath them.

  • Set two cones up 10-15 apart.
  • Start cone one.
  • As you step over the ball with one foot, roll it forward with that same foot. Alternate feet with each roll.
  • Perform this in a walking fashion until you get comfortable with the move.
  • Follow this sequence all the way down to cone two.
  • Keep the ball close to your body.
  • As you get better, strive to perform the drill with your eyes up as opposed to staring down at the ball.
  • As you get more comfortable, increase your speed. However, going too fast without the proper rhythm will result in you tripping over the ball.
  • Each player should perform 10 reps (going from one cone to the other counts as one rep).

6. Pullbacks

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This soccer foot skills drill trains a variety of dribbling techniques while also building better balance and proprioceptive skills.

  • Stand over the ball.
  • Pull the ball back with your left foot so that it's underneath your center of gravity.
  • Tap the ball behind yourself with the inside of your left foot.
  • Repeat that same sequence with your right foot.
  • To prevent you from drifting backwards during the drill, be sure to hop slightly forward with the alternate foot as you pull the ball back.
  • Keep the ball close to your body throughout the drill.
  • As you get better, strive to perform the drill with your eyes up as opposed to staring down at the ball.
  • Perform the drill for 15-20 consecutive seconds to complete one rep.
  • Perform 8-10 total reps, resting for 15-30 seconds between each rep.

7. Alternating Kick-Arounds

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This soccer foot skills drill may look a little complex, but with a few sessions of practice, you should see quick improvement. Alternating Kick-Arounds train timing, touch, balance and foot-eye coordination.

  • Stand over the ball.
  • Roll the ball from the left foot to the right foot, circling your right foot around and in front of the ball before trapping it and rolling it back toward your left foot. Continue that sequence until the rep is complete.
  • Start slow and gradually increase your speed as your confidence improves.
  • Keep the ball close to your body throughout the drill.
  • Once the drill is no longer challenging, strive to perform it with your eyes up as opposed to staring down at the ball.
  • If the ball gets away from you, simply retrieve it as quickly as possible and resume the drill.
  • Perform the drill for 30 consecutive seconds to complete one rep.
  • Perform 3-4 total reps, resting for 30 seconds between each rep.

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Topics: SOCCER | SOCCER DRILLS | SOCCER DRIBBLING DRILLS | YOUTH SPORTS | SOCCER SKILLS | DRIBBLING