Knowing how to run through the ball in soccer is important because you’ll need to do it often. So today you’ll learn what it is and how to practice and improve. When the ball is in the air there are times you need to settle it or turn and then there are times you need to run through it. Every player position needs to be good at this, especially forwards because you don’t have time to stop or slow down to control the ball.
Explaining what running through the ball is
Most of the times you’ll run through the ball is after it bounces up or deflects off you or another player.
An example for a forward is the ball bouncing while you’re running towards the goal. Imagine the defender is behind or besides you and as you are moving towards the ball you run through it with your chest, head, thigh, foot and sometimes stomach.
It all depends on your momentum and how high the ball is.
Timing has a lot to do with this… Good news is it doesn’t need to be pretty and oftentimes it’s not planned, instead more reaction.
Comparison of Novice U10 boys vs Advanced U13 girl
The first video below is the U-10 boys who have all moved from rec to club in the last season.
In this exercise the boys are just learning how to run through the ball. They are being brave to connect with the chest, but you can see they’re inconsistent with the timing.
At the beginning they would chest the ball and stop. After more reps they started to move forward after connection.
Novice U-10 boys [small group]
U-13 girl below shows better timing and consistency compared to the younger players.
One thing that sticks out is her ability to jump while using the chest and continue to run through the ball after contact.
The next challenging this is being able to settle the ball down after the initial touch… Notice how she uses her feet to take a few touches to get the ball under control.
Advanced U-13 girl [private]
Practice tips to improve faster
Start with the ball in your hands and toss it straight up in the air about 12-15 feet high.
I recommend first letting the ball bounce high and then after it reaches its highest point and starts to come back down, change your speed and run through it.
Try to use your chest. If you don’t time it right, you’ll need to use your head, thigh or foot.
Letting the ball come down vs coming up:
Ball coming down after bounce…
Let the ball bounce and come back at the highest point. As the ball starts to come back down, attack it with your chest.
Notice your form: Have your arms out wide [hands furthest out] so you have balance, protect yourself from opponents and so you don’t have an accidental handball.
Sometimes the ball will bounce weird [low or to the side] so you’ll have to adjust and use your thigh or feet at times.
Ball going up immediately after the bounce…
There will be other times you don’t have times to let it bounce at a high point and just need to run through the ball quickly. This often results in foot first, followed by thigh, stomach, chest or head.
Again, it all depends on the situation. As you know there are many times you can’t plan, instead have to react.
How to run through the ball with your chest
Running through the ball with your chest is the first thing I teach to kids when on this topic. The head and thigh are more backup plans for if the ball is too high or low.
When using your chest have your arms out [hands and forearms widest].
3 reasons to have your arms out wide:
- So you don’t get called for a handball
- To protect yourself from the opponent
When learning most players [even top HS] kids have bad form, keeping their arms in.
When to use your head vs chest
If you don’t time it right, you might have to use your head. Or if the ball is simply too high as your running/jumping.
The better way is to use the chest in most situations.
If you want the ball to go out further from you use your head. Sometimes this is a better option.
To keep the ball closer and getting it down to your feet faster use your chest instead of the head.
Most kids when learning this head the ball because they might not feel comfortable using their chest. Plus with the training technique to throw the ball up and let it bounce, kids like to head it. Off the bounce takes away some impact, so it doesn’t hurt when heading.
Using your thigh to run through the ball
The thigh or even the top of your knee is something you’ll sometimes need.
When running after a bouncing ball you won’t always be able to wait for the ball to drop to your feet.
Depending on the situation, there will be times you need to pop the ball up high. Other times you’ll need to keep it low and get to your feet or out in front to run on to.
Using your foot when the ball is bouncing low
For the times when the ball is lower than your knee, you’ll have to use your foot.
Again, depending on the situation, you could use the top, inside or bottom of the foot.
How hard/big you take a touch all depends on your surroundings. If you’re in a tight or open space and if you’re faster than your opponents.
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