Knowing how to keep the ball in the air is one of the essential skills needed in freestyle soccer. Juggling the ball in different maneuvers that help keep the ball airborne is a skill that is achievable with dedication and persistent practice.
Most moves start with juggling the ball with the feet. With time and practice, there will be an increase in skill and precision which usually is followed by using other parts of the body. Using the knees, neck, shoulder, and back in executing these moves all help in the process of freestyling.
Several tricks come in handy when trying to pull this off. Combining these tricks will not only entertain a crowd but also keep the ball in the air for long periods. This article hopes to mention a few of these tricks, with a detailed explanation of how they can be achieved.
How to Keep Soccer Ball in Air?
To get started, use a pumped but not too hard soccer ball. This makes the ball lighter and easy to use. The speed of your precision and know-how depends on the amount of time you are willing to dedicate to practicing these skills daily.
Some of these skills are also useful in other versions of soccer as they can be converted to dribbling moves. Some also help in improving the ball control ability of players when up against opposition pressure.
Some of the tricks for keeping the soccer ball in the air include:
1. Leg skills/Keep ups
Majority of the techniques used in freestyling involve the use of the legs. From the basic juggling techniques to the more complex ones like the “around the world”, each skill shows your ability and mastery of the art.
For starters, the first step is to perfect your basic juggling skill. This is the first step in all juggling moves. It allows you to get a feel of the ball, helping you settle into a rhythm.
You can start by either dropping the ball and allowing it to bounce or you could throw the ball up and ensure that in both cases it lands on your feet.
Use your feet to kick the ball up slightly, ensuring that the ball doesn’t go above your hip. You can start by practicing with one leg and gradually as you get better, proceed to alternate between the left and the right leg.
Keep practicing daily setting a target of at least 100 keep-ups every day.
This will help you gain ball control and speed in both legs which is crucial in other moves. Practice this for at least an hour daily for a month till you become an expert. Don’t remain on one foot. Make sure you are alternating between both legs.
As you perfect the basic juggling skill you can move to more complex ones like:
- Thigh juggling
- Leg stall
- Around the world
- Hop the world
- Cross over
- Between knee catch
- Toe bounce
- Henry’s Flick etc.
- Leg skills are the foundation and usually the beginning of every move
- Easy to learn and can be mastered after a short while
- Easy to transition between moves as they all involve the use of the legs
- Help to improve a players ball control and dribbling skills
- The complex moves require a lot of practice and dedication.
2. Neck stall
Another useful trick to keep the ball in the air is the neck stall.
It is quite similar to the leg stall but only in this case do you balance the ball on your neck. It is advisable to perform this trick from a leg stall as the ball will be in a stationary east-to maneuver mode.
Execute it by flicking up the ball about half a meter high above your head and as the ball drops cushion on your neck, with your back at a 90-degree angle. Also, keep your elbows straight and your arms pointing backward.
Practice daily alongside other tricks till mastery is attained.
The major move in this maneuver is to balance the ball on your neck hence it is advisable to not apply too much power on the kick that precedes the neck stall, else the ball will bounce off.
When the right measure of power is applied to the kick the ball rises slightly and is easily balanced, as the neck can absorb the power of the coming ball.
- It is a good crowd-pleasing trick
- It can be used to transition to other moves
- Helps in building patience and control
- One of the more complex skills in freestyling
- Requires a lot of time and effort
3. Headstall and head juggle
The headstall much like other variations of the stall requires you to bring the ball to a stop, this time around using your head.
You can start from a more basic move, then hit the ball up to a height above your head and catch using your head as a cushion.
It is advisable to perform this trick with the ball initially in a stationary position. This makes it easier to receive the ball and bring it to a stop.
The leg stall or the neck stall are good stances to transition from. The headstall also opens you up to other moves as you can allow the ball to drop and transition.
In many cases instead of doing the head stall, you can do the head juggle. In this case, you can flick the ball up from any position, and as the ball descends tilt your head backward and hit your forehead.
Repeat this motion every time the ball descends and keep it up in the air till you transition to another move.
- It is a good trick for crossover to other moves
- It is not entirely difficult to pull off
- It is also of a good aesthetic quality
- Doesn’t take too long to master and can be done instinctively
- Can be used in real match situations in association soccer
- Pretty basic and not regarded as a complex skill
4. Shoulder stall
The shoulder stall involves using the groove on the shoulder between the neck muscles and the collar as a cushioning position where the ball can rest. This can be achieved as the ball is juggled from other tricks and positions.
There are two major ways of performing the shoulder stall depending on your preference and the current location of the ball. From a normal juggling position with the ball in front of you, you can catch with the shoulder and crossover to another move.
You could also perform the shoulder stall when the ball is by your side and you kick the ball up and catch with the side of your head and your shoulder.
- The shoulder stall is an easy move to carry out
- Can be done instinctively and requires little proactiveness.
- Can be used to transition to other moves
- Not regarded as a major move
- Not usable in other versions of soccer.
5. Chest trap
Chest trapping does not occur too often in soccer. This is because most of the time, you use your leg to control the ball, kick, shoot, or dribble.
However, chest trapping the ball is one freestyling skill you should learn if you want to keep the ball in the air or control the soccer ball in the air. In this case, the ball is usually in motion, and someone has to kick it over.
On some occasions, when playing soccer, you would need to use your chest at some point, and mastering chest trapping for that purpose is important.
To chest trap a soccer ball in the air, you need to open up your body, your chest, to cushion the ball and hold it before releasing it to go.
For you to successfully do this, you need to be calm so you don’t send the soccer ball falling to the ground immediately it touches your chest. Therefore, when you open up your upper body to take the ball, you also need to lean your back a little when the ball is about to hit your chest.
When you do that, your chest holds the ball for a while rather than just tapping it and bouncing to the ground or your leg.
To be good at chest trapping, you need to practice a lot and play with passion, which is the same for learning other soccer ball techniques as well.
Getting the chest trapping technique is not hard. Once you have a routine, you just need to keep at it. When the soccer ball is in flight, you need to open up your body and position yourself as mentioned earlier.
You should bend your knees slightly, spread your elbows and arms at a 90° angle. This will enable you to guard the ball against your opposing team when you are playing the real game.
Therefore, before the ball lands on your chest, create your territory with your shoulders and elbows. And when the ball is about to make an impact, lean and exhale and hold the ball with your chest.
At first, you may not get it right, but with adequate practice, you can become a pro at it. Once you master chest trapping the soccer ball, then you can start practicing how to volley the ball to the direction you want it to go, or maybe score a goal.
- Ease of changing the ball’s direction.
- An effective way to trap the ball in possession.
- Good for maintaining control of the ball.
- Wrong moves can make the chest hurt.
6. Thigh control
Another technique to keep a soccer ball in the air is through thigh control. You would need to master this technique for when the ball gets to you but is too long for you to chest trap or control with the head.
You somehow need to master thigh control before getting into thigh juggling. You cannot afford to hit the ball too hard or high with your thing because you may lose possession or control of the ball if you do that.
This is why it is necessary that you know how to keep the ball in the air with your thighs. It will require that you practice a lot and your concentration for you to get it right and be able to direct the ball to the angle you want it to go without losing the ball’s possession.
First, you need to ensure that you are quick enough to hit the ball with your thigh. You need to hit the ball early so it doesn’t bounce off or hit some other place on your body.
You should not be slow or wait for the ball to hit your thigh before you raise it. This can send the ball too high in the air and make you lose control of it.
Then you need to cushion the soccer ball with your thighs. The goal of thigh control is not for you to send the ball high up in the air, but for you to control it to your advantage. You need to relax your body to make sure that the ball doesn’t bounce off your thigh.
For you to control the ball with your thigh, you should arch your thigh at a 45° angle position. That way, when the ball hits your thigh, it doesn’t go up but forward. When the ball hits you, it should settle in the middle of your thigh, and not on your knees.
When the ball hits the middle, it would be easier for you to control it without sending the ball up. However, you need to be confident that you can do it. If you are not sure, you may not get it right.
You have ample time to practice and be confident before you play the real thing on the field. Ensure you master both thighs properly, and from there you can move to juggle the ball with both thighs.
- Helps with ball control.
- Good for mastering thigh juggling.
- Can help with transitioning into other moves.
- Getting it right can take time and effort.
Keeping the ball in the air requires several freestyling tricks. Start with the more simpler and straightforward ones and as you gain confidence proceed to the other more complex ones.
The key to being outstanding is practice and even though it may seem quite difficult at first keep trying.
Slowly muscle memory will kick in and you will find yourself keeping the ball up for long periods as you alternate between complex moves you never thought you were capable of doing.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
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!