Whether you want to get behind defenders or entertain the spectators, dribbling is one skill that you must learn. One of the popular dribbling skills is dropping the shoulder which is also popularly called shoulder feint or mathais turn.
The shoulder drop is a relatively simple trick to master, and it can fool even the best defenders in the world. Superstars like Robin Van Persie, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi have used this trick at one point or another during their soccer careers.
While the use of the arms is not allowed in soccer, the shoulder is allowed. However, there are strict rules regarding the use of the shoulder which you must follow so that the referee doesn’t see it as a foul.
For example, you can push your opponent with the shoulder without drawing a foul. Interestingly, with shoulder drops, the likelihood of drawing the referee’s whistle is very slim since there won’t be any contact between you and your opponent.
In a tense game, being able to execute a shoulder feint may be all you need to create space for that great shot. Already wondering how soccer players pull off the drop shoulder trick? We will reveal everything you need to know about the trick and how to pull it off below.
- How to drop your shoulder in soccer?
- Variations of dropping your shoulder in soccer
How to drop your shoulder in soccer?
The success of the drop shoulder trick relies a lot on your speed. In other words, for you to be able to pull it off, you need to be fast. What this dribbling trick is all about is misdirection.
You make your opponent think that you are going in one direction while you move the ball in the opposite direction. While a defender and a goalie may not need this skill, it is crucial for players in the midfield, forward, and wings who always come head-on with the defender.
The drop shoulder technique in soccer has a similarity with checking your shoulder in that both tricks require you to keep your eyes up to see where your opponents are. With this move, never again will you show signs of fear when you are approaching a defender.
Inasmuch as we said shoulder drop is easy, it may take you some time to master. In fact, you may trip once or twice or tumble on the ball during the learning phase. However, never be discouraged because the benefits of having this skill are worth it.
For example, Lionel Messi is one of the players that has mastered how to drop his shoulder to trick his opponent. Even when it seems as if he is surrounded and has nowhere to go, he will use his upper body to fake his movements until he finds a way out of the trap.
If you have read this far, we believe it is because you want to know how to drop your shoulder. Without further chit-chat, here we go.
Keep your eyes up
For you to be able to effectively achieve the drop your shoulder skill, you must keep your eyes up. It will be hard for you to time your ball and keep the ball at the right distance with the closest defender if you are not looking.
Another reason why you need to keep your eyes up is that you want to quickly scan the field to see if there is an open space to the left or the right of the oncoming defender.
For example, as a right-footed player, a perfectly executed drop shoulder should take you to the left of the defender. Therefore, if you scan the left of the defender and discover that there is no space, you might want to reconsider your move.
The distance of the ball
The difference between getting a shoulder drop right and fumbling on the ball is getting the distance on the ball right. Take it too far and you risk losing it to the defender and leave it too close to your body and you risk climbing on the ball and falling to the ground.
It is important to mention that the right distance that the player should be from the ball will depend on the motion of the player. If a player is running at top speed or near top speed, the ball should be a full step ahead of him or her.
On the other hand, if the player is at a jogging pace or almost walking, the ball should be about a foot or two in front of them. Once the ball is at the right distance, it invites the defender to make a tackle with the anticipation that they will get the ball which makes it easy for you to make your next move.
Move your shoulder to the side of your dominant foot
When moving with the ball, it would most likely be on the side of your dominant foot. For example, a right-footed player will have the ball mostly on their right foot when in motion.
So, let’s use a right-footed player to demonstrate this next step. If you are a left-footed player, just do the opposite of what we will describe here.
For a right-footed player, once you are close to the defender in such a way that the defender can reach the ball with a full leg stretch, drop your shoulder to the right to give the impression that you want to move to the right.
Instincts should make the defender follow your shoulder movement. Quickly use the outside of the left foot to move the ball to the open space on the defender’s left, completely fooling the defender.
It is also possible to move your shoulder to your non-dominant foot and use the outside of your dominant foot to take the ball away to the open side of the defender. However, to successfully accomplish this, your stamina has to be top-notch.
You can easily lose your balance when you move your shoulder to your non-dominant foot. Also, it is easier to get behind a player using your non-dominant foot, especially if the player knows your dominant foot.
Speed away with the ball
Once you push the ball to the opposite side of the defender’s movement, the next step is to give the ball a nice forward push and speed away. Changing direction quickly can cause soccer players to lose their balance.
The shoulder drop relies heavily on the player’s fluidity and speed. This is a move that has to be completed quickly so that the defender won’t have enough time to recover. You have to be able to move from throttle to full speed in seconds.
It is even harder for the defender to cope if you perform this move at top speed. However, if there are more than two or three defenders to beat, you should slow down your speed to almost a throttle to give you adequate control of the ball.
Trying to beat more than one defender within a close distance is difficult and you would most likely lose the ball to the next close defender if you try to execute the shoulder drop at top speed.
Variations of dropping your shoulder in soccer
As you must have already noticed, the whole essence of the body feint is to force the defender to follow your false body movements so that when you make the right move it would be too late for them to recover.
Backing the defender’s shoulder drop
One popular variation of dropping your shoulder happens when a player is closely trailing you from behind. Make little movements with your body by dropping your shoulder to make the defender think you want to move in different directions making it harder for them to follow your movement.
Keep looking over your shoulder to make sure the defender is following your bait. Once you feel the defender is off-balance, move the ball in the opposite direction and speed away.
- Makes it harder for the defender to keep up
- Constantly watching your back may make it harder to focus on what is ahead
Standstill shoulder drop
For you to effectively pull off this variation of shoulder drop, you must have some nerves. It all starts with killing the motion of the ball and standing still.
Allow the defender to run towards you—or invite them. Do a couple of quick shoulder drops while waiting for the right moment when the defender throws in their leg to retrieve the ball from you.
In that split second, move the ball away through the defender’s advancing foot side and zoom off. For example, if the defender tried to reach for the ball with the right foot, move the ball away through their right side.
Doing so makes it harder for the defender to recover and chase after you. If the defender tries too hard, he or she risks falling to the ground.
- Harder for the defender to follow you if well executed
- Since you are standing, you can move in any direction without losing your balance
- Easy to lose the ball if the defender has a faster reflex
Deceptive reception shoulder drop
This is a trick you will see most often among defenders when they receive a back pass and have an attacker running up to them. However, attackers also use it when they receive a pass with a defender close by to intercept.
Once the pass is approaching, run towards the ball as if you want to receive the pass with one foot and run across the defender. Drop your shoulder to look convincing.
In a sudden twist, allow the ball to run to the other foot which is farther away from the defender, and zoom off. For you to effectively complete this trick, you should perfect your first touch.
- Hard for the defender or attacker to follow if you perfect your first touch
- You have to first build your stamina and balance
As you have noticed, dropping your shoulder is one of the skills you can pull off regardless of your speed. To be able to pull off the drop your shoulder skill, it is paramount that you build your stamina. Once you drop your shoulder to one side, the bodyweight moves to that side.
Without having good stamina, you may lose your balance if you want to quickly move in the opposite direction. Therefore, when making the shoulder drop move, only tilt the shoulder as much as you can recover.
Nevertheless, your shoulder drop should always be exaggerated to convince the defender. If you are not convincing enough, the defender will immediately read that it is a ruse and refuse to follow your body movements.
For stubborn defenders like that, combining the shoulder drop with double or triple leg overs or playing a quick one-two with a teammate may be all you need to have them chasing after your shadow.
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!