Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Set Up a Defensive Wall against Free Kicks

Free kicks are quite common in soccer, and if you have to defend them near your goal they can present a dangerous scoring opportunity for the opposing team. The best way to defend free kicks is to prepare for them before you ever have to face them. This preparation starts on the practice field and its foundation is built on strong communication with your teammates. The result of establishing this communication is the ability to quickly set up a defensive wall.

Communication is Key
Once the referee blows their whistle, the opposing team can take the free kick at their earliest convenience. Naturally your opponent is not going to wait for you to prepare your defense, and they will try to take advantage of the opportunity if your defense is not set.

With this in mind, make sure that you prepare your defensive formations in advance. Who will be the field player responsible for taking direction from the goalkeeper and organizing the wall? How many men will there be in the wall? Will the remaining players be man-marking the opposition, or covering in a zone defense? Think about these questions, and make sure everyone on your team knows the answer before you are forced into a situation that you aren’t prepared to deal with.

The Purpose of the Wall
The wall is primarily used to cut off the shooters angle to the post nearest to the spot of the free kick. This allows the keeper to shift over to the far corner and cover the other half of the goal. That’s not to say that the shooter can’t kick the ball over the wall into the near corner, it simply allows the goalie some wiggle room to cheat a little bit in the hope that the wall serves as a deterrent.

When to Use the Wall?
The wall should be used whenever the goalkeeper feels they can’t comfortably get to any point of the goal that could potentially be reached from the spot of the free kick. The formation of a wall is at the discretion of the goalkeeper. If the keeper asks for a wall, make one as swiftly as possible.

The Anchor
The anchor — also known as the rope man — is the person who takes the outermost position of the defensive wall. They are the player who is responsible for taking direction from the goalkeeper and moving the wall in accordance with the keeper’s instruction in order to cut off the opposing shooter’s angle.

The anchor should be a reliable player who the other teammates respect and can take direction from without question. The anchor should also be able to think quickly, and adapt should the circumstances of the play shift.

Hot Tip: The Rope Man
If you are having difficulty understanding or explaining the geometrical concept of cutting down angles for the shooter, there is a very simple method you can use to demonstrate it. During practice, simply take a long piece of rope and tie it to the goal post nearest to the spot of the free kick. Have the anchor player hold the rope while the goalkeeper positions the wall. The rope will demonstrate the line of sight of the shooter, and once they can no longer see the near post, the wall is set in the appropriate position.

Normally a wall is composed of no less than two and no more than five players, depending on the distance from the goal and the skill of the shooter. The keeper must also consider whether the free kick is direct or indirect. The difference between the two is that an indirect kick cannot be shot straight into the goal without touching another player first.

The number of players that compose the wall is up to the keeper. It tends to vary depending on where the keeper perceives a threat. If the spot of the shot is at a poor angle for the shooter, the wall may require fewer players than if it comes from the center of the field. If the keeper tells you to get in the wall, do it. It’s the keeper’s job to organize the defense and there isn’t enough time to debate a poor decision. Ultimately, if the decision was a mistake it will fall on the goalie’s shoulders. So listen, follow instruction, and explain your reservations after the match

Non-wall Players
In addition to determining the placement of the wall and the number of teammates in it, the keeper must also be aware of roaming opposing players and ensure that they are properly marked. This can be done with either a man-marking system or a zonal-marking system, depending on how many players are already in the wall.

The non-wall players should also be aware of opposing players who are offside. The offside rule applies for both direct and indirect free kicks, so if the remaining defenders move up field right before the kick is taken, they have an opportunity to catch opposing attackers offside.

Breaking the Wall
The players in the wall should maintain their shape until the moment the ball passes them. Many young players naturally shy away from the incoming shot or jump as it comes in, but this doesn’t help anyone. The best way to help your team is by standing your ground until the shot either deflects off you, or clears your position. At this point, the players in the wall should immediately rush to the keeper’s aide by picking up opposing players or clearing any deflections.

Calling for the Ball
As the general of the defense, it is the goalkeeper’s job to call for the ball if they want to make a play on it. This action has a dual effect:
  • It scares the opposing attackers who are charging into the box trying to score.
  • It notifies the goalkeeper’s teammates that they don’t need to clear the shot.
The importance of communication cannot be stressed enough and it all starts with the keeper.

Restarting the Play
Once the ball has been secured by the keeper or goes out of play, every defender who was involved in the previous play should be aware and ready for the next move. Attacking teams tend to get lackadaisical in the immediate aftermath of an easy scoring opportunity, which is the perfect time to mount a counterattack. Once your team has secured the ball again, get ready to transition and charge up the field in the opposing direction.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

How to Play Goalie in Soccer

Goalkeeping is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most thankless job in all of soccer. If you find yourself minding the net for your team, keep in mind that the praise for a win will usually be attributed to your goal-scoring teammates, but a loss will almost always be laid on your overburdened shoulders. This is the responsibility that you undertake when you play goalkeeper. You are the last line of defense and you have to be the general on the field.

It takes both mental toughness and proper technique to defend the net effectively. Here’s an overview of the skills and mechanics you need to learn in order to be a successful goalkeeper.

The Ready Position
The first thing goalkeepers need to learn is the “ready position.” This is the position you want to be in when anticipating a shot. Below is a checklist of things you want to ensure you are doing when a shot on goal seems imminent:

Be Square to the Ball
You want your chest to be perpendicular to the path of the ball. It is called getting square because you form a 90 degree angle with your torso and the potential trajectory line of the ball. Naturally this is not a precise science because there are many factors that can alter the path of the shot, but it should give you the highest probability of putting yourself in a position to make a save.

Keep your Knees Bent

Keeping your knees bent will allow you to leap faster than if your knees are locked. No matter what situation you are in, you need to bend your knees in order to generate the force that will elevate you. By keeping them bent in the “ready position,” you will achieve this faster.

Keep your Weight on the Balls of your Feet
By keeping your weight on the balls of your feet you will be able to move faster when you need to defend a shot. It’s all about reaction speed when you are a goalkeeper, and leaning forward and focalizing your center of gravity will increase the speed with which you react.

Keep your Hands at your Side
By keeping your hands at your side, you put yourself in the optimal position to make a save. You can easily extend your left or right arm out to either side when diving, or you can bring both hands up and in front of you to secure or parry an incoming shot.

When you position yourself in goal, always shuffle from side to side so that you can keep your torso perpendicular to the ball. Try to avoid crossing your legs if possible because they may become entangled and trip you up.

Cross Step
If you absolutely must sprint somewhere and are forced to abandon the shuffle step, twist your torso so that no matter what direction you are running, your torso is always perpendicular to the ball.

Attack the Ball
When a ball is rolling towards you, don’t just wait for it to arrive in your outstretched arms. Instead, attack the ball and secure it as soon as possible. This will let opposing players know that you are serious about defending your goal, and it will discourage them from looking for second chance shots.


Tim Howard, goalkeeper for the US men's nation...

If you dive to make a save and don’t secure the ball, make sure that you pop back up on your feet as soon as possible and get yourself in position. Just because you made a save doesn’t mean the game is going to stop to marvel at your brilliance. You need to get back in the “ready position” as soon as humanly possible

The goalkeeper is the jewel in the crown and getting at him should be almost impossible.

Catching the Ball

Soft Hands
When you catch the ball, always use your hands and not your chest. Make sure that your hands are behind the ball, not on the sides of it. That way, if you can’t catch it, at least you will prevent it from going into the net. Your arms should be outstretched and you should use them to absorb the force of the ball. Also ensure that you do not lock your elbows so that your arms can give a little when absorbing the ball’s force.

Hold Your Ground
When you catch the ball make sure you don’t step backwards. This will show attackers that you are timid and unwilling to stake your claim on the pitch. You also never know how close you are to your goal line, and it would be a pity to make the save, only to walk the ball right into your own net. Keep your momentum moving forward and be aggressive to the ball.

The Contour Catch
When you catch the ball above your waist, make sure you position your hands so they form around the contour of the ball. This is done by creating a W shape with both hands, connect by the thumbs.

The Inverted Contour Catch
Similar to how the Contour Catch is used above the waist, you want to use the inverse or upside-down W shape for shots below the waist.

Ground or Rolling Balls
When facing hard shots on the ground, you should utilize the smother technique. The smother basically entails falling forward onto the ball while scooping it up in one fluid movement.
When facing slower, softer shots, you can generally use the straight leg pick-up. Simply bend over to pick the ball and use your legs as a defensive fallback in case you bobble the ball.


When catching a ball above the waist, try to catch it at the highest possible point. Your ability to use your hands is an edge over the opposing attackers that you should take full advantage of.

Protecting the Ball

It is paramount that you protect the ball at all cost, but don’t forget to catch it before you do. Too often a goalkeeper will bring a ball into their body before it is properly secured, only to bobble it away. Always remember to catch, then protect.

Keep your Head in the Game!
The goalkeepers own mind can be just as dangerous as the opposing team during a match. One mistake can start a downward spiral of lost confidence that eventually leads to ruin. If you make a mistake, pick yourself right back up and stay focused. It doesn’t matter if the goal was your fault or not, move forward and play to the best of your abilities.

Goal Kicks
When taking a goal kick, the ball must be placed anywhere within the 6-yard goal box, and must be stationary before you kick it back into play. While the goalkeeper is generally the one who takes the goal kick, any teammate on the field is eligible to take it. As the goalkeeper, if you are not comfortable taking the kick it is quite common to have one of your defenders take it for you.

Punting vs. Throwing
When you secure the ball with your hands, you have the option of either punting or throwing the ball to your teammates. Throwing the ball is usually used to get the ball back into play quickly, or to accurately pass it to a nearby teammate. Conversely, punting allows you to achieve greater distance but with far less accuracy.

Once you have secured the ball with your hands, you have six seconds to put it into play. If you do not make a play in the allotted amount of time, the referee will award an indirect free kick to the opposing team.

Receiving a Back-Pass
When a defender passes the ball back to you, you may only play the ball with your feet. If you pick up a ball that is deliberately passed back to you, the referee will award an indirect free kick to the opposing team. The only exception to this rule is if your teammate heads the ball back to you, in which case you are allowed to play the ball with your hands.

Mind the Net
Hopefully this guide has provided you with the necessary tools to excel on the field as a beginning goalkeeper. Once you have mastered these techniques, feel free to continue to the Intermediate Goalkeeping Guide, where more advanced techniques and tactics are explored.
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Monday, 11 February 2013

Buying Soccer Cleats

Your cleats are the primary piece of equipment that you will use on the soccer field. It is essential that they are comfortable and fit your foot if you want to succeed on the pitch. When you decide to buy a new pair of cleats, there are a number of factors you need to consider.

Which Cleats?
The right cleat for you will be the one that forms an optimal balance between the following three factors:

Ask yourself what level of a player you are, and what specific attributes you are looking for in a cleat. Do you want leather or synthetic? Do you want outdoor shoes or turf shoes? Long studs or short? Do you want replaceable studs or fixed studs? These are all questions you need to figure out before you make your purchase.

Figure out the primary type of surface on which you will be playing so that you get the appropriate type of cleat. Some cleats are designed to be used on a multitude of surfaces, but if you are a competitive player, you might want to consider getting multiple pairs of situational cleats.

Soccer cleats can get very expensive. A fancy pair with all the bells and whistles may provide a slight advantage on the pitch, but it won’t necessarily make you a better player. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to buy a solid pair of functional cleats. Determine what you are willing to spend, and then make an educated decision to get a pair with the features that are right for you.

Online vs. Offline Purchase

The internet is probably where you will find the best deal on cleats, but it may not always be your best option. The importance of finding a cleat that fits your foot cannot be stressed enough. By ordering cleats online you will not have the luxury of testing its fit, and may find yourself with an expensive purchase that doesn’t suit your foot. If you have the option of trying on cleats in a store, you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity. You may not be able to get the best price, but at the very least you can determine the exact cleats you want, and then order them online at a more competitive price.

The most important aspect of a cleat is whether it fits your foot. Your ability to perform on the pitch will be severely hampered by an ill-fitting boot, which is why your priority should be finding one that’s right for you. Also consider that some cleats tend to run large or small, and wide or narrow, depending on the brand. Sizing charts are a rough guideline, but by no means are they a precise science, especially when it comes to products from different countries. Almost all cleats will list both the American and European size on a tag, but you should absolutely still try them on before you buy them.

Trying on Your Cleat
When trying on a cleat in the store to determine the necessary size, be sure that you are wearing the socks and shin guards you plan to wear when you are playing. Normal socks will not give you an accurate idea of how a cleat fits in a game situation. So do your best to avoid buying a shoe that fits in the store, but not on the field.

Leather vs. Synthetic
Synthetic cleats, ironically, can be found on both the lowest and highest end of cleat prices, depending on the quality of materials. You can find a pair in the $20–$50 range, but these are primarily for beginning players and tend to lack durability.

Most mid-range cleats are made of kangaroo leather and are priced between $50 and $150. One benefit of a leather cleat is that it will gradually mold to the specific shape of your foot over time, giving you a more comfortable fit. The advantage of synthetic cleats is that they are more resistant to water, and are significantly easier to clean. If you play regularly and consider yourself a competitive player, then it is worth investing the money on a pair of mid-range cleats.

At the top of the price range are synthetic cleats made of expensive materials like carbon fiber. These cleats can reach the astronomical price of $350 at the top of the line. These are designed to be extremely light in order to improve your speed. While a pair of cleats this expensive will undoubtedly give you an advantage, they are unnecessary for anyone but the most serious and accomplished of players.

Molded vs. Studs
Most cleats currently on the market are molded cleats. This means that the sole is comprised of a set of fixed studs that cannot be replaced. Depending on your level of play, you may own more than one pair of cleats for varying conditions. Longs studs are typically recommended for muddy or wet field conditions, whereas short studs are primarily used for dry conditions. The third option is to buy cleats with removable studs, which will allow you to swap out long and short studs depending on field conditions.

Style vs. Comfort

It would be a lie to say that the “look” of a cleat doesn’t factor into many players’ decision-making when they choose a pair. However, the best advice to heed regarding the aesthetic style of your cleat is to completely disregard it. Don’t allow the look of the cleat to be your primary motivation when making a purchase.

Cleat Care
When you are done using your cleats, make sure that you hand-wash them thoroughly and ensure that there is no grass or mud stuck in the seams. If you notice that the leather is cracking, you can apply some polish to prolong their durability. Also try to avoid walking on concrete to prevent wearing down your studs.

Cleat Brands
There is no right or wrong brand to purchase, merely a variety of choices that may or may not suit you. The easiest way to choose which brand to purchase is by trying on cleats in the store and then buying the one that fits you the best.

Cleat Brands

If you are looking to buy a pair of cleats, here are the names of several trustworthy brands:
  • Nike
  • Adidas
  • Puma
  • Reebok
  • Diadora
Make Your Choice
Now that you have an overview of all the necessary information, you can make an educated decision when purchasing a pair of cleats. Be sure to do your research, and always remember that a pair of cleats that fit your feet is essential in order to enjoy the game of soccer.

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Saturday, 9 February 2013

How to Defend in Soccer

Unlike scoring a goal, which provides instant gratification, defending is a process that extends throughout the full 90+ minutes of a game. Although defense is less glamorous than attacking, shutting down an opposing offense can be equally satisfying.

The ultimate objective of defending is containment, the ability to prevent opposing players from attacking your goal. There are varying ways of defending an opposing player that can be used depending on your skill set and athletic ability. Below are the basic concepts and strategies you need to know in order to succeed as a defender.

Most defenses are made up of four players in varying formations. Defenses are sometimes reduced to three men, but this is usually when a team is playing from behind and desperate for goals. The four primary defensive positions are right back, left back, centerback, and sweeper. Sometimes the defenders are lined up four across with two center backs, but when one plays behind the other the position is generally referred to as a sweeper.

Stay Goal Side
When you are defending an opposing attacker, always be aware of where they are positioned on the field relative to your goal. You always want to put yourself between the attacker and your goal in order to obstruct their direct route. You also want to corral them away from the goal towards the sideline whenever possible. The farther away the attacker is from your goal, the less likely they are to score. This may sound sophomoric, but you would be surprised how many defenders forget this simple fact.

Close the Space
When an opposing player is attacking you, ideally you want to close the space between you to about a yard (3ft). This is the optimal distance to maximize your ability to contain the opponent, and react to their movement once they attack. If you are a significant distance from the attacking player when they are attacking, close the space quickly in a sprint, but slow your pace as you approach in order to avoid overrunning the player and the ball.

Keep your Eye on the Ball
The best way for an opposing player to beat you is to deceive you with their body. This is called a feint or fake, and in order to avoid falling for one you must always keep your eyes on the ball rather than the opposing player.

Don’t Commit

The best way to avoid being deceived by an attacking player is to avoid committing to a ball unnecessarily. The objective of the defender is containment. Winning the ball is not always a necessary objective, especially when the number of players involved in the play is in the attacking team’s favor. Sometimes just stopping the attacking player from advancing towards your goal is good enough while you wait for reinforcements. However, you can’t do this if you make a silly mistake and commit too early on defense. You always want to wait for the attacking player to make a mistake, and then take advantage of their misjudgment.

Stay on Your Toes
By staying on your toes you will be able to react to the attacking player’s movement significantly faster than if you are flat footed or on your heels. You will also minimize the attacker’s ability to exploit your uneven weight distribution, thereby passing you by.

Man-to-Man Defense

Man-to-Man defense is the strategy whereby each defender has an opposing player that they are responsible for guarding. Generally speaking a player guards the mirror of their position in the opponent’s formation. For instance, the right defender on the defensive team would guard the left winger on the opposing team, and so forth. Man defense is good for teams who don’t have a firm grasp on the offensive capabilities of the opposing team, and want to minimize potential risk.

Amazingly True Story
Franz Beckenbauer is widely considered to be one of the greatest defenders, if not one of the greatest players, in the history of soccer. His nickname, “Der Kaiser,” means “The Emperor” and was bestowed upon him for his complete and utter dominance on the pitch. He is widely credited as the inventor of the modern sweeper position, which is still commonly employed in today’s game.

Franz Beckenbauer

Beckenbauer was twice selected as the European Player of the Year, captained West Germany’s 1974 World Cup winning side, and won three European Cups while captaining his club Bayern Munich.

Zone Defense
Zone defense is the strategy whereby defenders are responsible for patrolling certain areas on the field for opposing attackers. This strategy only works if you and your teammates have a deep understanding of the formation and tactics of the opposing attackers. Zone defense can be extremely dangerous because it is difficult to keep track of all the opposing players simultaneously. If you do not have a mastery of your opponents’ tactics it is not advisable to stray away from man defense.

The Offside Trap
Unless you have a firm grasp on the offside rule, you should disregard this section. However, if you feel you are ready to add the dynamic of the offside trap to your defense, read on. The offside trap is the concept of pushing the defensive line forward in order to draw opposing attackers offside. This is generally done by pushing up the field quickly in anticipation of an opposing through ball to an opposing attacker. The offside trap is difficult to run effectively, because it requires all of the defenders to be aware of all the attackers at all time.

Unless your entire defense is on board with the strategy of the offside trap, you may find yourself disastrously beaten by opposing players. When running the offside trap, ensure that the central defender or sweeper is constantly directing the defense in order to maximize the effectiveness of the trap. Communication is the key.

Slide Tackling
Coaches often shun the use of the slide tackle, despite the fact that it is a very effective way of shutting down the opposing player. The reason for this is that slide tackling is what would be referred to as a “high risk” maneuver. Slide tackling is considered high risk for a number of reasons. First of all, if you slide tackle an opposing player and miss, you will find yourself lying on the ground without any means of recovery. 

Secondly, if your tackle is mistimed you run the risk of missing the ball and striking the opposing player, which will almost always result in a yellow card, and sometimes with a direct red card if the tackle is from behind. While the slide tackling should certainly not be removed from your arsenal of defensive tools, it should be used sparingly and with an extreme measure of caution.

Defensive Heading
Defensive heading is a very important element of the game because it gives you the opportunity to clear the ball before attackers even have a chance to strike it with their feet. When attempting a defensive header, remember to remain on your toes to maximize your jumping ability, strike the ball with your forehead, and direct the ball away from opposing players.

Corner Kicks
The organization of the defense during a corner kick is the responsibility of the goalkeeper. He must tell his defenders where he wants them situated in order to minimize the chance of the opponent scoring a goal. The keeper may also direct defenders to mark up on a post to decrease the chance of a ball slipping past him. Defenses can employ either a man-defense or zone-defense on corner kicks depending on what the manager determines to be the most effective.

Free Kicks
Not unlike on a corner kick, the goalkeeper is responsible for organizing the defense during a free kick as well. However, when defending a free kick the keeper will usually instruct several of his defenders to form a defensive wall 10 yards from the spot of the foul. This wall is generally used to cut off the angle of the shot towards the post nearest the spot of the kick. The keeper must ensure that this angle is not available to the shooter by directing the placement of the wall. The keeper is also responsible for determining how many defenders will compose the wall, and how many will mark opposing attackers in the open field. There is offside on free kicks, meaning that defenders can play the offside trap in this situation.

Clearing the Ball
Very often you will find yourself in a prickly situation on defense and your only alternative to giving up the ball will be a blind clearance. That’s ok. Getting the ball away from your goal is a necessity, getting it to a teammate is an added bonus. Ideally you want to direct your clearance whenever possible, but if booting the ball means you will clear the defensive zone then it often becomes a necessary evil.

Outlet Passes
An outlet pass is a pass sent from the defense to the midfielders or forwards, whereby the ball clears the defensive zone. Outlet passes are the primary tool used to initiate a counterattack against your opponent. Once you have won the ball on defense, look for your teammates up the field who are already thinking ahead towards attacking the opposing goal. Quickly send them an outlet pass and you may be fortunate enough to get a numerical mismatch against the opposing defense.

Counter-attacking is an essential part of the defenders role on the team. Though the defender’s primary job is to stop the opponent from scoring, one should remember that a good soccer player is a two-way player, capable of both shutting down the opposition, as well as initiating the attack when the time is right.

Not all defenders have an attacking mindset, but all should strive to make outlet passes whenever possible rather than simply clearing the ball aimlessly. By doing this your attacking teammates will have a better opportunity to score, and your defense will have more time to recover while your team maintains possession of the ball.

Tracking Back
Once you have initiated the counter-attack you are free to take part in the offensive campaign, just remember that your first and most important duty is defense. Leading a counter-attack is admirable, but if you can’t track back on the ensuing play, you have no business leaving your position in the first place. At the very least, communicate with your midfielders and ensure that someone covers your position while you overlap into the attacking half of the pitch. If you are able to do this you will have become the best kind of defender, one who plays a two-way game, both attacking and defending.

Ready to Defend!
Hopefully this guide has provided you with the necessary tools to perfect the basic elements defending. Once you have mastered these tactics, feel free to continue to the Advanced Defending Guide for further instruction.

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Thursday, 7 February 2013

How to Dribble in Soccer

Dribbling is the act of possessing the ball with your feet. Whenever you have possession of the ball you are actively dribbling in order to control the ball in anticipation of either a pass or a shot.

Dribbling is primarily used as a means to an end (scoring a goal). Endless dribbling will usually result in a loss of possession and a scorning from your coach, so it is important to learn how to balance your dribbling with the appropriate time to pass or shoot. Always remember that no matter how good you are, the ball can travel faster than you can. This means that if an open passing lane is available, you should usually send the ball to a teammate rather than keeping it yourself.

Keeping Your Head Up

It is absurd to think that if you are new to dribbling you will be able to do it without looking at the ball. However, you should be aware that your eventual goal should be to develop your dribbling skills to a point where you will be able to do it without looking. The reason for this is that you want to be able to scan the field while you dribble, looking out for opposing defenders as well as open teammates.

Amazingly True Story
Although only 22 years of age, Argentina’s Lionel Messi has already cemented his status as one of the world’s top players, a marvelous feat for one who stands a mere 5’7” tall. His diminutive stature is partly responsible for his nickname, the “Atomic Flea.”
Messi earned this name because he’s nearly impossible to contain, leaving the defenders who oppose him as helpless as tormented dogs rolling in the dust. Messi is a master dribbler, and has an almost freakish ability to control the ball as if there is a magnetic force connecting his foot to it. He also dribbles with his head up, reading defenses while brilliantly navigating obstacles on the pitch.

Protecting the Ball

Your primary goal when dribbling the ball is to maintain possession. You can’t do this unless you take the necessary steps to protect the ball from the opposing team. There are a number of ways you can do this:

Shielding the Ball

Shielding the ball is the act of protecting it with your body from opposing players. If the opposing players don’t have an accessible point from which to attack the ball, your ability to maintain possession will greatly increase. The easiest way to shield the ball is by turning your back to an opposing defender so that they have to go through your body to get to the ball.

Keeping the Ball Close

The easiest way to lose possession of the ball is by playing recklessly. A good player will create the illusion of an almost magnetic force connecting the ball with their foot. You should strive to emulate this model when dribbling the ball. A good way to do this is by trying to get a touch on the ball with each stride you take, instead of simply kicking the ball far ahead of you and chasing it down. By keeping the ball close, you can make a quick decision to change direction if your current path becomes obstructed.

Avoiding Fancy Dribbling

By minimizing fancy dribbling you will greatly increase your ability to maintain possession. A fancy spin move may look great on a highlight, but the success rate of such move is significantly lower than a simple touch on the ball. Save fancy dribbling moves for desperate situations when you don’t see any other option.

Passing When You Can

Very often the best touch you can make on the ball is a pass. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dribbling the ball, but if one of your teammates in a better position to shoot or advance the ball up the field, send it their way. If you are generous with the ball your teammates will return the favor. Remember that soccer is a team sport, and no amount of dribbling skill will allow you to win on your own.

Being Aware of Opposing Players

The reason you must master the art of dribbling without looking at the ball is because you must constantly be aware of the defenders who are trying to dispossess you. If you find yourself in danger of losing the ball, you must decide whether you are going to attempt to beat the defender, wait for an open lane to present itself, or pass the ball to a teammate.

Dribbling Into Space

Given the choice of dribbling at or away from an opposing defender, you should almost always dribble into open space. Sometimes this may prove difficult if defenders collapse on your position, but once this happens you need to make the decision whether to attempt to “beat” your defender, or make a pass.

Deutsch: Dribbling beim Fußball.

Beating the Defender

In order to beat an opposing defender you must first look for weaknesses in their defense. These weaknesses may already be apparent, or you may need to create them by manipulating the defender. The first and most obvious weakness to look for is if the opposing player is slower than you are. If so you will likely be able to pass them with your speed alone. However, if you are not noticeably faster than your opponent, you should look to see if they are “off balance” or “flat footed.” If they are, you would ideally want to attack the side on which they are favoring their weight. This is because they will not be able to support their weight AND defend you with the same leg. If they are not already off balance, you can use feints to throw them off, and then attack the side on which they are supporting their weight.

Dribbling Technique

There are four basic ways with which you can touch the ball while dribbling, they are the inside, outside, instep, and sole of your foot. An expert dribbler will use all four of these subconsciously with grace while in midstride, but if you are new to dribbling you should try and familiarize yourself with touching the ball in all four of these areas. The better you are at mastering each touch on the ball, the more naturally dribbling will come to you.

Dribbling with Pace

Speed is a luxury that not all players can afford, and for this reason it is essential that you master the art of dictating the pace of your dribbles. Just because the opposing player is faster than you does not mean he is unbeatable. By changing the pace of your dribbling you can throw the defender off, and hopefully a dribbling lane will present itself. Even when you are faster than the defender, sometimes pacing yourself is necessary, either to wait for teammates to support you, or to conserve energy for a better scoring opportunity.

Changing Direction

One of the easiest ways to beat a defender is to quickly change direction when they least expect it. Defenders typically wait for attackers to make the first move, but they are often easily fooled. Use this to your advantage; your body, and its ability to deceive, is a weapon.

Using both Feet

You cannot be a complete player until you have mastered the use of both your feet. Your best opportunity to beat an opposing player may present itself on the side of your weaker foot, and if your dribbling skills are one dimensional you will likely fail. For this reason it is essential that you practice with both your left and right foot, regardless of which one you consider to be your dominant one.

You're Ready to Dribble!

Hopefully this guide has provided you with the necessary tools to perfect the basic elements dribbling. Once you have mastered these tactics, feel free to continue to the Advanced Dribbling Guide for further instruction.
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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

How to Train for Kicking a Goal in Soccer

Goal are typically hard to come by in soccer so its important for players to learn the proper techniques for kicking the ball at the net, known as finishing a play. In game situations, soccer players will sometimes kick a stationary ball -- during a free kick, for example. At other times they will kick a smoothly rolling ball courtesy of  a teammate's pass or a bouncing ball that's rebounded of the goalkeeper or a defender. Practicing all of these kicks and doing so from different points on the field helps you put the ball in the net during actual play

Lionel Messi shoots from just outside the Manc...

Items you will need
  • Soccer balls
  • Flags or similar markers
  • 4 cones
Step : 1
Set 10 to 12 balls on the ground at a variety of distances and angles relative to the net. Have a player move from ball to ball, kicking each into the net. The player should take time to set himself before each shot, as he would with a free kick. Observe the player’s shooting form and make corrections as necessary.

Step : 2
Place six balls about evenly spaced around the outside of the penalty area. Set three cones in a line, evenly spaced about 12 to 18 yards past the top of the box, with the two outermost cones lined up with the sides of the penalty area. Position a player behind each cone, then have a player or coach hold each ball. The player on the far left cone begins the drill by running toward the top of the box while a ball is rolled at the penalty mark. The player kicks the rolling ball into the next, using the foot closest to the ball. The player then moves behind the second cone as the next player in line takes his shot. Players continue changing cones after each shot. Alternatively, simply have one player dribble toward the net with a second player running to the right or left. The first player passes to the second, who kicks the rolling ball into the net.

Step : 3
Position four cones in a rectangle outside the top boundary of the penalty area. Place two cones near the boundary and toward the sides. Set the second cones straight back from the first two, leaving enough space for a player to dribble through the cones on the same side of the penalty area. Place a ball just to the left of the cone on the left side that’s farthest from the box. Have a player dribble between the cones and bend the ball into the far side of the net, using the inside of his right instep to strike the outside of the ball. The second player dribbles through the two cones on the right and uses the outside part of his right instep to kick the outer portion of the ball and bend it into the net. Players should kick from both sides and with both feet during the drill.

Step : 4
Position one player by the top of the penalty area and a second player several yards farther toward midfield. The second player tosses the ball toward the penalty area, over the first player’s head. After the ball bounces, the first player kicks it into the net.

Step : 5
Position two flags or other markers eight yards apart. Set two players about 50 yards apart in a line that’s perpendicular to the line between the flags. Have one player dribble the ball forward about five yards, then shift left or right before shooting the ball between the flags. The second player retrieves the ball and repeats the drill, shooting from approximately 20 yards from the flags. Have the players shoot below crossbar-level, which is 8 feet from the ground.

  • Encourage players to use the correct kicking form, taking a long stride with the non-kicking leg, then planting the foot next to the ball with the knee slightly flexed. Players should bend their kicking leg sharply at the knee so the shin is close to parallel with the ground, then strike the ball with the instep while their toe is pointed down.

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Monday, 4 February 2013

How to Kick a Soccer Ball

Have you ever wanted to kick a soccer ball without embarrassing yourself? Do you want it to get in the air? Here's how you may improve through following these steps.

1. Practice your kick sitting down.
  • Take off your shoes and socks and sit down on the floor with your knees pointed to the sky.
  • Hold the ball in your hands over your feet, so that your arms are wrapped around your knees.
  • Kick the ball out of your hands with the top of your feet. Your ankles should be locked. When your foot connects with the ball, the ball should connect with the "laces" part of your foot, or where the laces would be if you were wearing cleats.
  • Kick it lightly. The ball should only go up a couple feet, with little or no spin.
2. Practice your kick standing up.
  • Stand up and do the same thing. Drop the ball over your foot and kick up gently.
  • Again, look for no spin in the ball when you kick it up.
3. Set the ball in the middle of the field and back up a few steps.

4. Take a few steps forward and plant your foot next to the ball.

5. Point your planted foot in the direction you want the ball to go. This is really helpful when you are trying to shoot the ball towards the goal.

6. Bring your leg back and swing it forward with your toe pointed toward the ground. Hit the ball in the middle of it. You should strike the ball with the top of your foot, where the laces are on your shoes.

7. Follow through like a ballerina landing from a leap. If you lean your body in so that your body weight is pushed forward, then it will allow your follow through to be stronger, and thus your shot will become more powerful.

8. Don't lean back when you are done with the kick. This will help keep your balance, and ensure that the ball goes higher in the air than intended (if intended at all).
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