Being adequately skilled in ball control plays a huge role in the game of soccer. Ball control is so important in soccer that during a match, the team with a higher level of ball control always has greater chances of winning.
To be called a good soccer player, you must possess numerous skills that will enable you to stand out from the crowd, overcome obstacles, and win matches.
Every professional soccer player constantly makes an intentional effort at learning new skills and improving on themselves. They continually train to be better at dribbling, defending, shooting, attacking, first touch, and passing balls.
Since balls usually approach players at different speeds and sometimes from awkward angles, a good first touch allows them to bring the ball to your control. Having a great first touch in soccer helps players to better strategize their next move and also gain more space and time over their opponents.
A player’s ability to properly execute the first touch, gain space, play effectively, and retain possession of the ball even after a tackle, boosts their overall confidence and performance on the pitch.
The first touch skill is not just learned or improved in a day. It takes constant practice to be good at it. If you wish to improve on your first touch skill, you have arrived at the right source.
In this article, we will explain in detail what a first touch is and how to effectively have a good first touch.
What is a positive first touch in soccer?
What happens when you kick a ball to the wall? It bounces off the wall in a direction depending on the angle of impact, right?
The human body is like that wall. Without positioning your body properly for the ball’s impact, it will bounce off your body—and most probably, out of your control.
In soccer, the first touch refers to the moment the ball makes its first contact with a player after traveling freely on the pitch.
There is a popular saying that first impression matters—and it does too with your first touch. The quality of your first touch influences and determines the event that will follow.
There is no certainty as to how the ball will fall in place when being received by a player. It might make contact with the player and bounce off their body, leading to the player losing the ball or it might settle in perfectly in their path.
A positive first touch mostly creates an opportunity for teammates to score or make it harder for their opponents to retrieve the ball. It all boils down to how skillful a soccer player is on the pitch.
The positive first touch will either kill the ball instantly or change the direction of the ball, thereby enabling players to properly navigate it in the desired direction.
It also helps you in maintaining possession of the ball for a longer period, score more stunning goals, and give better passes to teammates. A player can at any point have a good first touch with the ball using either the shoulder, head, chest, or foot.
The ball can make contact with any of the above-mentioned body parts of a player and still be controlled. However, the most convenient and comfortable first touches are usually made using the player’s feet.
Players are always put under pressure when they get hold of the ball as they are compelled to make very fast decisions. This situation is where the importance of the first touch is most viable.
In soccer, the first touch determines the following;
- The direction a player can pass the ball to
- How long the ball stays with the player
- The direction of the ball after the touch
- The quickness of the player with the ball while moving away from opponents
As you can see, the first touch always affects the next course of action on the soccer pitch.
How to have a good first touch in soccer?
Having understood the importance and significance of the first touch in soccer, you must learn and train on being better at it. There are many things you can do to improve and get better at your first touch skill.
Some drills have been put in place to help players improve their first touch skills, these drills have been incorporated into players’ training routines. Having these drills incorporated into their training sessions makes learning and furnishing this skill easier.
This drill enables players to develop an improved touch while playing, it also enables them to learn to run towards a pass rather than waiting for the ball to come to them.
Set up for this drill
- A ball and two players
- A marker such as cones or stones
- Durable and flexible.
- Our long-lasting soccer cones will bounce back after getting stepped on, kicked, and run over season...
- Bright, easy-to-see colors with UV protection to clearly mark anything.
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Pass drill instructions
- To execute this drill, you need to have 4 cones or any other suitable marker
- Place the 4 cones or any marker 1 yard apart from each other to form a square
- The two players that will be participating in the drill should stand 5 yards behind the cones opposite each other
- The player with the ball should make a pass through the center of the square to the other player
- The player at the receiving end will pass it back, making sure it goes through the center of the cones
- Each time any of the players kicks the ball, he/she is expected to move 2 steps backward and wait for the next pass
- With the consistency of the passes, there will be more distance created between both players as they backpedal after each pass while trying to maintain the pass through the cones
- If at any instance the ball fails to pass through the center of the cones, both players will start the drill over again
- You can make the drill harder and train soccer players on how to make precision passes by narrowing the space between the cones
This drill is common amongst soccer players and it is very easy to set up and practice. It can be done by soccer players in numerous age categories.
- Make a square box on the ground using 4 cones, each cone should be 2 feet apart
- Two players should be positioned at both sides of the box
- The first player passes the ball to the other player through the side of the box
- Using the first touch, the receiving player passes the ball across to the opposite side of the box back to the first player
- The first player receives the ball and repeats the same routine for about 5-10 minutes
Quick thinking drill
This drill helps develop the players’ logical reasoning. The player has to think quickly about where they wish to pass the ball and where to move to after passing.
Quick thinking drill instructions
- 4 cones with 1 yard between them should be set in a straight line
- Two players are to stand 10 yards from the cones on each side
- The first player starts the drill by making a pass to the other player through one pair of the cone
- The player at the receiving end takes the first touch by controlling the ball by either using the left or right foot
- Pass the ball back to the first player but not through the same pair of cones
- Both players should repeat these steps for about 5-10 minutes
- Then, add more cones to create more channels for passing
- Reduce the distance between each cone to create a smaller sized passing channel making the drill more difficult
Players are advised to constantly practice with both feet and also use the correct technique by putting their toes up and their ankles locked while making a firm pass. They should also make use of the inside and outside of both feet while controlling the ball.
Wall pass involves just one player playing the ball against a wall. It helps players to learn how to deal with a ball when there is a rebound during play.
Wall passes instructions
- Strike the ball against the wall
- With one touch, try to control the rebound and kick it again
- Ensure to vary the height, power, and distance of every strike and also take the ball to either of your sides while trying to control it
Player pair drills
As the name suggests, the player pair drills work with two players facing each other. The distance between the players will depend on whether they will be throwing the ball or kicking the ball.
If one throws the ball, he/she can stand 10 feet apart. However, the distance should be doubled if he/she kicks the ball.
The most important feature of this drill is that it allows the players to learn how to execute a good first touch using different parts of their bodies.
Player pair drill instruction
- One of the players should throw or kick the ball to the second player
- The height of the ball should be alternated depending on whether the player is supposed to use their head, shoulder, chest, thigh, or feet to cushion the ball
- Repeat the practice for each part of the body 10 times
- The players should swap places after each rep with the receiving player becoming the serving player
Coaches usually rely on this technique because it achieves two goals at the same time. The kicking player improves their pass accuracy while the receiving player improves their first touch.
What other factors can lead to a good first touch in soccer?
Having a good first touch in soccer doesn’t just end with drills alone, some tips are also helpful when it comes to improving your first touch skills and general ball control.
Below are some important tips you need to know and apply while playing or training.
One attribute soccer players possess is thinking ahead. They are always conscious of their next move with the ball, their next pass, and whether they are to shield the ball or not.
The best players around the world always strategize what they intend to do next even before making their first touch on the ball. This enables them to make the best decisions most times while making their first touch.
It is wrong to stand and think of what to do with the ball as it creates an opportunity for your opponents to tackle and retrieve the ball from you. Players are often advised to know what to do with the ball before its arrival so that they will not be taken unawares.
Play the ball into an open space
After your first touch, pass the ball into an open space. This is because moving closer to an opponent or allowing the ball to stop will limit the space and time you need and create an avenue for your opponent to tackle and retrieve the ball from you.
To avoid this, look over your shoulder and identify where your opponent is. Find an open space away from your opponent and push the ball with your first touch into the area out of the opponent’s reach.
Focus on the ball
Every player on the field needs to be focused especially when it comes to the first touch. Soccer balls can swerve mid-flight and it is only when your eyes are on the ball that you can detect this change in flight and readjust your body for an effective first touch.
By keeping your focus on the ball, you will be able to time your movement so that the ball lands on the part of your body where you want it to. Timing and the ability to predict the movement of the ball are key to making a good first touch in soccer.
Modern soccer is mostly played with immense speed which is why players are often under pressure to make accurate decisions during matches. Players are expected at every point to make use of any available opportunity with the ball.
Having a good first touch helps players perform excellently well and also increases the chance of a team winning a game. This is because the quality of a first touch determines what happens next.
Good first touches and adequate ball control most times lead to a goal while a bad first touch often leads to loss of possession of the ball to opponents.
Players should work on improving their first touch as it helps them maintain a good possession of the ball. If a team has more ball possessions during a match, they are more likely to win.
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!