The bouncing ball in soccer is something that happens a lot and most aren’t great at it. You typically don’t want to let it bounce, but sometimes it has to. Most of you reading this have watched several soccer games and have seen that the ball bounces so many different ways. Below I have a great homework assignment for you to work on that will elevate your skills. So with all there is to learn, make sure you spend a little time on your own training solo. Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Start it off right with proper body mechanics in soccer
When receiving a bouncing ball that comes up at your chest, your arms need to be out and away from the body. This helps you avoid 3 main things. Accidental handball, keeps defenders away from you and gives you better balance. Also you need to bend your knees and lean back so that the ball doesn’t go far away but up. Both of these are vital in terms of improving mechanics, which allow you to control the ball better. You can see this position in the picture below.
Running through the soccer ball
To run through the ball means that when there is a bouncing ball, and you don’t have time to trap it in the space you are at. You instead run through the ball where your thigh, stomach, chest or head gets a touch out in front of you. Then you can dribble, pass or shoot. This is a skill that every position needs to be good at; the main position doing this is the forward.
The reason the forward comes to mind is because if they are chasing a ball that is hit over their head. Forwards usually have a defender behind them. Instead of making it look pretty, you just need to get a touch ASAP out in front of you. This way the defender doesn’t get the ball. This is a skill that I see most players are not used to, especially ages 7-11.
The most difficult bouncing ball in soccer
For any level, there are certain balls that usually give players trouble. The ball that comes fast, low and skips just before it gets to you. There are just times where the ball is going to bounce. Yes, you want to trap the ball before it bounces but you can’t get to every ball before it bounces. As coaches & trainers we have to do a better job explaining this to the kids because kids take things so literal. If they think they have to trap every ball before it bounces they won’t understand that it’s okay to let the ball bounce!
The ‘No Bounce’ rule in soccer
If you have played soccer up to age 11 or so, you have heard the words, “Don’t let it bounce!!” Why do coaches yell this? Because if a player lets the ball bounce, when they could have trapped it before the bounce. If you let the ball bounce back up when you could have trapped it, you are letting the defenders get another 5-15 yards closer to you. Does this mean that you don’t ever want the ball to bounce? No, of course not. There are times when you want or should let it bounce, it just depends on the situation.
Imagine you are a winger who is waiting for the ball to be switched to you. You have the choice to go to the ball and get it before it bounces or, back pedal and let it bounce.
You have to know which is the best choice in the situation. If you have someone open right away, you want to go to it, so that you can make the pass right away. But if there is nobody open, you want to open up the field. Why? To allow time for windows to open up, so you want to back pedal and allow the ball to bounce. This will also make the opponent have to run further to apply pressure which takes energy out of them.
A defender, most of the time you don’t want to let the ball bounce. The reason is because this would allow the opponent to get close to you while the ball is in the air. The only time a defender wants to let the ball bounce is if they have time to control it and keep possession. Another time to let it bounce is to then head it to your goalie. (Remember, goalies can’t use their hands if their teammates pass the ball back with their feet. Passing to your own goalie can be done using the chest or head.
What if there is only 1 forward applying pressure or the pressure is light & the defender has guaranteed support? They can let it bounce to spread the field & start the attack from the back. Sometime you want to play games with the opponent and make them run more than they need or want.
5 different ways to control a bouncing ball in soccer
- The one above that skips in just before you can get a touch. These are difficult because the player can’t tell if it is going to bounce up below or above the knees. You will see untrained players use their shins to trap the ball as they jump up and that right there is a no no. They need to get used to using the inside of the foot for any ball coming at their knees or below.
- A high bounce that comes from a player clearing the ball, which is usually going to be a ball that a defender has to deal with
- Bouncing ball going away from the player
- Ball that bounces up in front of your body that should be the time you ‘Run through the ball’
- Bouncing ball over the head which we went over in the last blog post “1st-Touch Overhead”
Homework assignment: Ball on the wall
Using a wall, throw or kick the ball at different areas and heights of the wall. This allows the ball to rebound at different and unexpected angles back at you. Practice receiving the ball with different parts of your body, except shins or knees. With a bouncing ball in soccer, you want to be good using different parts of the body, so click this link to learn more thigh, stomach, chest, inside, top & sole of foot to play clean.
One objective would be to settle the ball down to the ground, trying to do this with 1 touch, but knowing 2 and 3 touches is going to happen and is okay. One touch would be ideal because if the ball is bouncing in the air, defenders will continue to apply pressure. Once the ball is settled, the player has room to be more creative, looking up & around for where to play. Being able to control the ball quickly and many different ways will allow you to play simple. You will also have less pressure allowing you freedom to play quick or hold the ball.