"How to teach and enhance ball handling skills for youth
soccer players"

What are the basic ball handling skills that youth soccer players need to learn?

  • Basic dribbling
  • 1 on 1 dribbling moves
  • Ball control
  • Passing and receiving

We will cover all these skills and why they are so important to young players while they are building a foundation.

Basic dribbling

The coach should start with basic dribbling if he or she is working with young kids from U6 - U8 and even U9 and U10 if they have limited playing experience. This way, the kids develop a comfort with the soccer ball.

Basic dribbling: Teach the kids to use all the four parts of the foot the sole, inside, laces and outside of the foot.

How do we go about teaching these skills?

  • The sole of the foot can be taught by having the kids doing toe taps stationary and moving forward, backward and sideways.
  • The inside of the foot can be taught by having the kids do foundation touches.
  • The laces dribble can be taught by having the players use small speed dribbles to work on the touches.
  • The outside of the foot can be taught by having the players perform figure eights and quick turn with the outside of the foot.

How does the coach put all these skills together so the kids learn and use all these ball handling skills?

The kids need to have a chance to master all these skills. The coach can divide the skills up and work on them individually in training sessions, before bringing it all together.

The coach can use a combination of soccer fun games and basic dribbling to bring out the fun and teach soccer skills to the kids.

1 on 1 moves

Once the players have gotten some basic touches down the coach can introduce the kids to some basic moves. The better the basic dribbling foundation is the better the kids will be able to pick up the moves.

  • V-move: The move is a great move for getting out of tight spaces.
  • Step over: The step over can be used to beat players and get rid of defenders.
  • Basic cuts (inside and outside): The cuts can be used to change direction and beat players and get out of trouble.
  • Stop and go: The move can be used to create time and beat defenders.

How long does it take to learn these moves? The trick is to learn the moves and then be able to apply the move to an opponent. Learn more about 1 on 1 moves by clicking here!

In my experience, the coach's job is to introduce the moves, and it is the kids job to figure out the moves they like. The kids will practice the moves they feel most comfortable using - amazing how this works!

Passing and receiving

Once the players have some basic ball handling skills down the coach can add passing and receiving to the mix.

  • Passing with the inside of the foot: The basic push pass is a great way for kids to learn how to pass the soccer ball.
  • The kids need to learn how to lock the ankle, keep the toe up and heel down.
  • Receiving with the inside of the foot.

The first touch is very important? Need an explanation of a first touch? Click here...

Ball control

The next set of ball handling skills that the coach should introduce to the players is trapping bouncing or balls traveling out of the air.

What parts of the foot or surfaces can the kids use to trap the soccer ball?

  • Sole of the foot: This is a very useful skill because the players are able to get the soccer ball out of the air very quickly and get their heads up.
  • Laces or instep: A good skill for bringing a ball out of the air.
  • Inside of the foot: Great for either receiving a pass or bringing a ball out of the air.
  • Outside of the foot: Probably one of the least used touches but very effective...
  • Thigh trap: This trap is very useful because the players are using a bigger surface - the thigh to cushion the soccer ball.
  • Chest trap: A more difficult skill to master for the kids because the player has to cushion the soccer ball on the chest without the soccer ball bouncing away.

There a lot of surfaces (foot, thigh, chest and head) that a player will need to learn in the game of soccer. The younger kids can be introduced to these ball control skills in very basic ways to get the fundamental skill down.

The coach can then build on the skill so the players will be able to perform the soccer skill under pressure or without thinking about the soccer skill.

Return to Coaching Kids Soccer from Ball handling

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