Friday, 23 November 2012

First Touch in Soccer

In Soccer, to be in control of the ball is of great importance to every level of player. The ability to control an awkward bouncing ball quickly and effectively gives the player with the ball the immediate advantage. First touch is often the difference between success and failure in most situations during the match.

As the game of soccer progresses in more competitive levels the speed of play also increases. This means that first touch is critical for these players. As players get older, the game gets faster, and demands more speed. At this level, there is a greater need for first-time passes and a precise first touch on the ball. Often, players cannot always play a first-time ball; therefore, they must trap the ball, or may have to dribble if no teammates are in position to receive a first-time pass.

Deutsch: Dribbling beim Fußball.

Time and space go hand-in-hand in soccer. The less time a player takes to do something, the more time they will have to take advantage of it. Typically when controlling a ball, a player will do one of three things after controlling the ball: shield the ball by putting their body between the ball and the opponent, pass (or shoot) the ball; or they will dribble the ball. The space and time they have to do these things will depend on how good the player’s first touch is when receiving the ball.

First touch is the key
While practice can do wonders for teaching you how to handle the ball from the moment it touches your feet, here are a few basic concepts to keep in mind whether you are a newbie to the position just learning this vital skill or a veteran working on improving your team’s offensive play.

1. Take control immediately.
You cannot afford even a second of hesitation. Your first touch should be taking control of the ball; your second touch should be proactive, moving the ball where it needs to go.

2. Aim toward your goal as a default.
When you don’t know where to go, start moving the ball toward your goal. You can then think about what you are going to do next. This practice prevents that moment of hesitation that can lose games, and moving a ball toward the goal is rarely a bad idea. Unless the ball is under pressure, in which case…

3. Steer the ball away from the opposing team.
It seems intuitive, but many players panic at this moment and try to get through the opposition. Go around the crowd, go away from the crowd, go anywhere except into the crowd.

4. When under pressure, pass.
If the opposing team is moving in on you from all different sides, you likely won’t get very far with the ball. The best option in this case is usually to pass the ball to the nearest open teammate. It’s important to make this decision and execute early, before you are completely surrounded.

5. Follow through.
Once you have committed to a course of action, don’t be intimidated. Follow through unless there is a compelling reason not to. However….

6. Be flexible.
If the play you originally envisioned is clearly not going to work out, switch to Plan B immediately. Don’t waste another second on a strategy that won’t yield results.

7. Shoot, if you can.
Sometimes a window for a goal opens up just as the ball hits your feet. If you see this, go for it! Every second you hesitate is a second that the opposing team is noticing that same window and working toward closing it.

8. Use your body to protect the ball.
If you intend to keep possession of the ball, even for a second, direct your body so you are always directly behind the ball. This may take some fancy footwork, but, after all, this is soccer.

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