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Skills and Drills


Shoulder Feint

Dip the shoulder to one side and go in the opposite direction. Step into the direction you are faking with your shoulder and take off with the ball in the other direction.  Spinning in a way in the other direction.  It's a shoulder fake to the right then you dribble off or turn with the ball to the left - and the reverse to go the other way - fake to the left (lean) and dribble off by turning to the right.


This is done with your back towards the defender.  Before turning, and when you have a defender on your back, throw in feints as if you are going to go in one direction, when you really want to go the other way.  Feint to the side by dipping your shoulder.

However, as a midfielder, you might want to have your body half turned already, and open to the field.  This turn, the fake with your shoulder, is if you are marked tightly and coming back to the ball with a defender right on top of you and need to spin away.

Spinning with the Inside of the Foot

Use the inside of the foot to spin around with the ball. You are using the inside of your foot for control and pulling the ball around to open up into the new direction you want to go in. That way you are immediately open to the entire field and can make a pass with the inside of your foot on your next step.

The Dummy Turn

If the ball is played at the right pace and you think the defender is too close to you, then you can let the ball run through your legs and turn and beat your opponent to the ball.
Also, if you know your teammate is behind you and open, you can let the ball run through your legs and go through to your teammate, and they then can play the ball to back to you - much like a give and go.

This is very effective for forwards to learn. The ball can be played to the forward who's checking back, who lets it run through his or her legs or just lets the ball go by them and quickly turns to get the ball back from the other forward, the deeper forward who is posting up.

When the two forwards are lined up one should always be closer to the midfield. The forwards should try to work in tandem and stay ten or fifteen yards from one another. One stretching the defense the other closer to the midfield - of course the forwards can rotate and switch these positions through the course of the game but often the taller forward posts up high to win head balls for instance, while the other forward tries to win the knock downs or anticipate a flick, say off of a goal kick or punt for instance. Forwards can also clip the ball into the other forwards path and work a give and go. Meaning, instead of a dummy and letting the ball go past them completely, they can get a touch on the ball or flick the ball on to the forward – using the pace of the ball to spin the ball into the other forward, perhaps around a defender.


Listen to your teammates, if they say turn or time or man on – take their advice.  They can make things a lot easier for you.  It’s really important to communicate on the field and let your team mates know when they have time or when there is pressure coming.  It’s a good habit to get into, if you play the ball, pass along a message too – time, turn, man on, you’ve got time, go at them, and so forth.

More on Crossing: Get the Ball in the Box

As a winger or wide midfielder it is important to get the ball in the goal box. That means serving the ball across the goal mouth. Whip the ball in. Put the ball in with pace. This makes it easier for the targeted player to redirect the ball on goal and also helps avoid getting the ball cut out or blocked by a defender.

Get accustomed to crossing the ball when you have the opportunity. You don't have to beat always beat the defender. The defender, who is marking you, will begin to think you are going to cross it every time, that’s when you take the player on and go down the line to cut the ball back or take a shot yourself.

Plus, you don't need to reach the end line to cross the ball. You can and should cross the ball from any point over the half line really, as long as you are trying to pick out someone directly or if you are leading a player with a cross or long pass - as that player makes a run towards goal.

Stock Ball

With this play you’re trying to get to the end touchline and lay the ball back to a teammate. As a team you can try to seek this kind of situation out - get the ball wide to a midfielder who can take the defender on and cut the ball back across the goal mouth. You want to make it difficult for both the goal keeper and the defense to keep their eyes on the ball and the player they’re marking.

There are numerous options, but another could be playing the ball down the line to a forward, who has made a diagonal run, who can turn then turn and cut the ball back to a teammate across the goal mouth. This could be a quick early pass across the goal mouth too.
As a rule, if you can beat your defender down the line then go for it - but if you can bend the ball around the defender or feint and get enough space to get the cross in, go for it. 
Be aware of where your forwards are - so you can time the pass right and have the ball meet them at the right time and pace, as they move towards the goal. Try to pick someone out with your pass. A stock ball is an ideal play that often leads to an assured goal.


Often, when just starting out, it can appear to be impossible to keep the ball up in the air. As you've heard numerous times before, you need to practice and practice and practice. Soon enough things will start to click and you can build from one, to two, to ten, and on up to fifty touches and beyond, with the ball in the air.

At first try kicking the ball into your hands. Dropping the ball down to your feet and kicking the ball back up to your hands. Then two juggles and back up to the hands and then three and four. Next try alternating from your right foot to your left. As you go along it will become easier and you can gain control of the ball and make the ball do what you want it to do. Again, work on alternating from right to left - maybe twice with the right and then once with the left or four with the left and then two with the right.

The main goal should be to be able to juggle back and forth from your right foot to your left. You can then kick the ball higher into the air while your juggling and then lower and then higher. Have fun with the ball, getting used to using all the different surfaces of your feet and parts of your body to control the ball, incorporating more parts as you improve - foot to head to thigh back to foot to head again.

Make the Ball Do What You Want It To Do

You can go in a cycle. Left and then right foot, then right thigh and then left thigh, and then hitting the ball up to your head and back down to your right foot and then left and so on. You can make up various cycles that you have to go through, choosing where the ball goes, and not just keeping the ball up in the air, but manipulating the ball on your terms. It’s not about how many times you can juggle but making the ball go where you want it to – being in control.

Later you can try to manipulate the ball even more. Kicking the ball away from you to the right and then away from you to the left, at a slight angle in the air. Almost like your faking going to the right and then the left but in the air. You need to lean your body to the side in which you are kicking the ball. Kick the ball out to the right then back towards the inside with the right foot - and then try this with your left foot. All the while keeping the ball up in the higher.

Next try walking and juggling with the ball. See if you can juggle the ball to the other side of the field. Later try jogging and juggling the ball in the air at the same time. You will just need to find the right rhythm, alternating the ball with each step as you jog along. Slowly try to pick up speed as you improve.

Running without the Ball

If you make a run towards a team mate with the ball but don't receive it - break into space to drag the defender with you. Make an ambitious run towards goal for a through ball just to draw attention to your self and open up a play for someone else. The midfielder behind you can then sneak into the free space you just opened up.

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