Monday, 14 September 2015

Goalsquad’s Guide To Better Ball Control

Every good move, play, or goal, starts off with a flawless first touch. Here’s how you can up your game!

A good, confident, and assured first touch can make all the difference in a player’s ability to create space and worry defenders. Whether it is a trap or cheekily turning into space, your first touch will determine if your intended move will come off or not. While this holds true for any form of the game, it is most vital in five-a-side football, where time and space is not as much of a luxury as it is in the full-format.

So how do you improve your first touch? As with any sport and any talent, the only way to make improvements is to practice incessantly. While playing a lot of games does result in a confidence boost and improvements, the pressure and intensity often takes away from the focus on your first touch. Spend just 10 minutes with the ball everyday and you could make vast improvements to your football skills!

Here are a few pointers to take your game to the next level:

1)     Keep your eyes on the ball: When receiving the ball, the most common error most players make is to look up for a pass or space to run into, even before they’ve controlled the ball. The minute you take your eyes off the ball, your chances of stopping or diverting the ball into your intended position are vastly diminished. It is imperative that you follow the ball all the way to your body before your look to make your next move.

2)     Present a large surface area: When you’re going to make your first touch, you want to give the ball a wide surface area to make contact with. When controlling it with your leg, use the side of your foot to make sure you can take as much power out of the ball and stop it right in front of you. The lesser the surface area, the more you have to cushion the ball, making it harder to keep your balance and control on the ball.

3)     Cushion the ball: Whether it’s your legs, chest, or head, the key to controlling the ball well and keeping it within your reach is to cushion it. When receiving it with your legs, you should start moving your foot in the same direction as the ball is moving a second before you make contact with it. This will help take the pace and power out of the ball and make it stop right in front of you. If you try to control the ball without cushioning it, it will bounce right off your body and away from you. This video shows how important cushioning is when controlling a ball at pace:

4)     Keep your knees bent and ankle locked: When you cushion the ball, you need to take the pace and power out of it. To do this, keep your knees bent so that you are moving only the lower part of your leg. This will ensure that the ball stops in front of you and you can vary the amount of cushioning as per the pace of the ball. Keep your ankle locked so that you can control the ball with the base of your heel and knock it into your intended direction. With a loose ankle, the ball can bounce into any direction and you also stand the risk of suffering a sprain. This video shows how you practice controlling grounded and aerial passes:

5)     Once you’ve improved your simple first touch, it’s time to start turning into space to make a pass or have a shot. To do this, you need to be sure of the direction you want to turn in, and use your ankles to redirect the ball. Receive it with a wide surface area and knock it into your intended direction to leave your marker flat footed. This video explains the importance of a turning first touch and how you can practice to improve yours:

6)     Practice makes perfect. Some football coaches suggest that players looking to improve their skills should practice on a daily basis. Even if you practice for as little as 10-15 minutes, every touch of the ball helps improve your skill and confidence. To see a marked difference in your play, try and make a hundred touches every day.

With training, it’s only a matter of time before your friends notice an improvement in your game. Keep the above tips in mind and in as less as one week, you could find yourself playing at higher level!

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