One of the first skills youth soccer players learn is how to dribble a soccer ball. The unfortunate thing is, many player never get beyond very basic dribbling. When it comes to changing directions, or making a feint on an opposing player, they are at a loss. Your job as the youth soccer coach is to give them the tools to take their dribbling skills to the next level.
Here are 7 tips you can use to help your players develop this valuable skill.
1. Maintain Your Balance
As you dribble the soccer ball it is important that you maintain your balance. Keep your feet wide enough that you can quickly stop, start, and change direction. When you play off balance it is impossible to do anything except move forward in a straight line without losing possession of the ball.
2. Keep Your Head Up
When players first learn to dribble they have a tendency to watch their own feet. Unfortunately when they have their head down they cannot see anything that is going on in the field. They have no idea where their teammates are, and they don not see approaching defenders.
Make sure that you work with your players to keep their head up when they are dribbling. Watching their feet is a horrible habit to get into, and it will hamper your players development in other areas of the game.
3. Look Where You Are Going
While it is important to look around to see what is happening on the field, you should not lose focus on where you are going with the ball. When a player stops paying attention to where they are going they can quickly get into trouble. When they see what is in front of them they can make better decisions about what to do with the ball.
4. Study Your Opponents
As players begin to develop they will start to be able to spot the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents. Players have tendencies to play a certain way, and if you are aware of those tendencies you can use that knowledge to your advantage during the game.
For instance, if you see that a player has trouble defending attackers that move to the left, you can instruct your players to cut the ball to the left when they face that defender. While this may not be useful at lower levels, it can give you a nice advantage in older youth soccer games.
5. Use Both Feet
Players that can dribble with both feet are much more difficult to defend. Using both feet give the ball handler the ability to shield the ball better, and they are able to change directions with the ball much more quickly.
6. Don’t Be Predictable
As players start to learn more moves with the ball, some of them will have a favorite move that they use during the game. While this is understandable, it can lead to trouble if they rely onb a single move too much.
When you become predictable it makes it much easier for a defender to know what you are going to do with the ball. Once they know what you are going to do, it is very easy for them to take the ball from you.
7. Pass the Ball
One of the biggest mistakes a youth soccer player can make when dribbling is to miss the opportunity to pass the ball. They try to dribble through traffic, or they allow themselves to get hemmed in on the sideline or in the corner.
One of the fastest ways to move the soccer ball and to spread the defense is to pass the ball. Don’t allow your players to get so confident in their ball handling abilities that they miss open passes.
As a youth soccer coach you need to find ways to get your players plenty of touches on the ball during your practices. These 7 tips will help you to develop your players into talented ball handlers. That put you one step closer to victory.