Touches in soccer help, but being comfortable with the ball by taking steps between touches is equally important. One of the most important things in life is to do your own research. Don’t believe EVERYTHING you read, see or hear. If you search soccer training online, you’ll be led to believe the best way to improve is dribbling through cones and just getting “touches”. This is not how you want to be trained in soccer. It’s more important to learn the right way, not counting your touches. What if you’re doing things the wrong way. Read below what coaches and trainers online are not talking about.
How soccer coaches can tell the difference from a well trained player
There are 3 types of players in youth soccer. ‘Untrained’, ‘trained’ and ‘backpack status’. Similar to a dog. You either have the ‘untrained dog’ running away from the owner. A ‘trained dog’ on a leash who listens well. Third is the ‘bomb sniffing German Shepherd’ with a vest/backpack on, unleashed walking next to the owner. Right away you know it’s professionally trained.
This is the same for an experienced soccer coach. In just 5 seconds they can tell how good a player is on the ball.
Being coordinated and comfortable on the ball between touches is one way to tell.
Watch pro soccer and you will see players taking 1-3 touches most possessions. Even when dribbling, they often take only 3 touches while covering 15 yards of space.
Steps over touches in soccer
One thing I notice either in-person or online is kids nowadays take too many touches in soccer. Therefore they don’t know how to take steps between touches because they are trained to only get “thousands of touches”.
Taking more steps between touches will allow you to do so much more. Things like looking up for the pass, getting more power on passes/shots and allowing time for your teammates to make runs.
For more on how to get more power on your shot click here.
Taking steps between touches when dribbling
If you go online, say YouTube you be led to believe that getting 1,000 touches is the best thing for soccer players. This is just not true. This is clickbait.
Some of the best ways to improve as a soccer player is to learn proper form and get used to keeping the ball close without actually touching it.
As you get to the next levels your coaches will expect you to play faster by taking less touches. Many coaches don’t like when players dribble too much, especially with your head down.
Video below shows one way to get more steps between touches.
Most ‘trained’ players are not used to this because they are ‘trained’ to just touch the ball every step.
Watch these 2 college players work with me for the first time. You’ll see the taller player show big improvement in just minutes.
What the pros do when dribbling
A few things you’ll notice when watching pro footballers is they look up while dribbling and they don’t take tons of touches.
In a game if you get the ball and put your head down and dribble like many kids practice nowadays you’ll never see the open pass.
2 things to look for when dribbling. Your teammates and the defenders. If you are only looking for a open teammate you will lose out on better chances.
Other things to know is where there is good balance. If you look up and see 4-5 defenders in one small area, there’s a good chance that a different part of the field has more of your teammates.
Once your touches in soccer are clean
One players are clean (technically sound) with the ball it’s important to work on being free with the ball in space. I do believe we need to continue working on our craft and staying sharp with touches, but we can’t leave out freedom with the ball in space. Dribbling through gates with the purpose of taking more steps than touches.
Too many coaches/trainers are building robots instead of players with freedom/options to create how they want.
We as coaches need to allow players to play how they naturally would, not only how we think they should. This is one reason my online ball control courses only recommend 30 mins per week. The courses give players the time to become super smooth and then even more time to do what they want with the ball.
Less touches gets you more speed
To maximize your speed with the ball it’s important to take less touches, while keeping the ball within 2-4 yards.
You might be wondering why I chose 2-4 yards instead of 5 yards. While typing this, I literally stepped off 5 yards and believe that extra yard is too far. Of course there are times when you can get the ball 5+ yards out in front of you, but 1-4 yards is close enough where you can get speed and still be able to touch the ball to dribble, pass or shoot.
If the ball is too far out, sure you can build up good speed, but you’re only a threat in running.
It’s better to be able to run with the ball and also have the options to dribble, pass or shoot. Being able to have all these options makes it harder for the defenders to know what you’re doing.
Increase your vision when getting touches in soccer
Things you can do is practice dribbling in the backyard or on the pitch and get used to looking up and taking several steps between touches. Pretend you’re in the game. It’s important to learn how to adapt to your surroundings when practicing.
Example: If you are in the backyard work on looking up and see what you can find. Maybe a squirrel is on the fence or whatever you can find. If at the park, see if you can see people walking, cars driving by. Use your imagination and challenge yourself.
Getting more power with the steps between touches in soccer
One more thing steps between touches will help with is getting more power when kicking.
Whether it be passing or shooting, this will help give you more time to “load” your kicking leg.
Too often youth players get the ball and freak out and actually touch the ball too much. Instead players need to learn how to be comfortable on the ball.
Besides taking the steps between touches, check this link out on how to properly strike the ball with the laces.
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