The Laws of the game clearly state that a professional soccer ball must be between 68cm to 70cm in circumference. Also, it should weigh between 410 to 450 grams and have a pressure of 8.5psi to 15.6psi.
The combination of all these parameters and the material used in making the soccer ball means that it will bounce. In fact, the bounce test is one of the ways to determine if a soccer ball is properly inflated.
As a soccer player, you will often come in contact with a bouncing soccer ball. The bouncing nature of the soccer ball makes it harder to control.
Outfield players are not the only ones that dread bouncing soccer balls. Goalkeepers hate them too because in most situations when the ball bounces, it changes direction.
This change in direction makes it harder for the goalkeeper to predict and time their dive. Even world-class goalies can easily concede a goal due to a bouncing ball—and it is always embarrassing to watch.
If you are reading this, it is probably because you have been embarrassed by a bouncing ball before or you dread it. With the right skills, you should easily control the bouncing ball.
How to control a bouncing ball?
Learning how to control a bouncing ball is not rocket science. It requires patience, commitment, and lots of training time. In other words, it is not something that will happen overnight.
When you receive a bouncing ball, the first thing that you have to quickly decide is the part of the body that you will use to make contact with the ball. This will usually depend on the height of the bounce.
For example, when the bounce of the ball is at a height equal to or higher than your chest level, it makes no sense to try to make contact with your leg. Inasmuch as it is doable, you may end up hurting yourself or another player.
As a soccer player, you always want the ball to roll and not bounce. This makes it easier for you to plan your next action.
There are many ways of controlling a bouncing ball and we are going to tell you all about them and the kind of practice you should be doing to perfect them.
Controlling off a bounce
The first technique that we are going to be talking about is controlling the ball off a bounce. As the name suggests, you will let the ball bounce once and catch it as it is about to bounce off the floor.
To accomplish this, you need to get into the proper position. For example, if you want to control the ball to the left, your body should bend slightly to the left. Your planting foot should point in the direction you want the ball to go.
Raise your kicking foot about knee high and have the inside of your foot facing the direction you want the ball to go. When at the right height, your kicking foot should be parallel to the ground.
Bend your planting foot slightly and lock the ankle of your kicking foot with your toe facing up. If you don’t lock your ankle, the ball may strike your foot at a different angle and you will lose control of the ball.
Start bringing your leg down as the ball is about knee height. Let the ball bounce. During the rebound, it will hit your perfectly placed kicking foot and move in the direction you want it to go.
Remember to give the ball a small push if you are close to a defender so that the ball will not run beyond your control. If there are no defenders nearby, you can give it a big push.
Regardless of whether you gave the ball a small or big push, you have to accelerate immediately after your touch. That means you also have to know how to control a soccer ball while running.
To practice this drill, stand in a stationary position and throw an imaginary ball position, and hit the imaginary ball after a bounce. As you get more comfortable, introduce a ball to your drill.
Once you perfect it, challenge yourself by throwing the ball higher to give it more speed, or tell a friend to toss the ball towards you and try controlling it after a bounce.
Once you perfect how to control a bouncing soccer ball thrown at you by your friend, you should be able to handle every bouncing ball in the game with ease.
Run into the ball
Another way to control a bouncing soccer ball is to run into the ball. If you have watched soccer games for over a decade, you should have seen one or more soccer players use this trick, especially in a counterattack situation.
For example, when an attacker gets a long pass from a defender in a counterattack situation, rather than trap the ball, they will allow the ball to bounce ahead of them and chase after the ball.
When they get close to the ball, depending on the height of the bounce, they can either hit the ball with their knee, thigh, chest, or head. This impact breaks the bounce and forces the ball to move forward with smaller or no bounce at all.
If the ball continues to bounce after the first hit, the soccer player can use two or more further steps to get it rolling on the floor. This technique is useful for sustaining the tempo of the ball, especially during a counterattack or when defenders are behind you.
Stop the ball
In soccer, you can get passes from awkward angles—and you need to control them to make your next move. If the ball is bouncing, it may be a good idea to suck out the motion of the ball and bring it to a standstill.
To do this effectively, you must have perfected your first touch. The first touch refers to where the ball first came into contact with your body.
The first touch can be with the foot, thigh, chest, or head. Regardless of which part of your body that you use, the goal is always to take the motion out of the ball which will also stop it from bouncing.
This technique can be used for a soccer ball bouncing vertically or at an angle. The part of the body you will use to stop the bouncing ball will depend on the angle and height of the bounce.
For a vertically bouncing ball, you can either use the top of your foot or your thigh to stop the ball. The secret here is to pull the part of the body you are using backward to suck the motion out of the ball.
For example, if you want to use your foot to control the soccer ball, position it in such a way that the top of your foot will be at the spot where the ball should take its next bounce.
Make sure that the foot is slightly lifted from the ground. As soon as the ball hits the top of your foot, pull your foot backward with your toes pointing to the ground.
The backward movement will suck the motion out of the ball while the arch of your foot will allow the ball to roll to the ground.
Step on it
Stepping on the ball is another popular technique that soccer players use to stop balls from bouncing. When done accurately, it can help the soccer player control a bouncing ball.
For this trick, you have to meet the ball just when it hits the ground. Place your foot over the ball with your toes pointing upward.
The ball will hit the studs of your soccer cleat as it wants to rebound. Rather than rebound, the soccer ball would roll away from your feet. Follow this with a sprint.
Don’t let it bounce
Most coaches will always yell at players, especially the 11-year-olds, not to let the ball bounce. That is what every soccer player should be doing.
Whenever it is possible, pluck the ball out of the air so that it doesn’t bounce. This is because a bouncing ball gives the opponent a chance to contest for the ball—and you may lose the ball in the process.
However, when that is not possible, use one of the other steps mentioned above to control the ball after the first bounce.
Before you leave
There are times when it is OK to let the ball bounce. For example, during a UEFA Champions League 2022 game between Real Madrid and Manchester City, Vinicius junior got a pass from his half.
Since he was facing his half of the field Fernandinho who was close behind him expected him to trap the ball. Instead, he shifted away and let the ball bounce through the legs of Fernandinho. He eventually ran with the ball and scored a beautiful goal.
We have also seen players allow the ball to bounce in front of them to set up a clinical volley. Nevertheless, these are really few exceptional cases.
For most parts of the game, you would want to control a bouncing soccer ball to perfectly execute your next move. Interestingly, you can do it with any part of the body allowed in soccer.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!