Soccer is among the most loved sports in the world. Its massive global followership is a testament to this. Soccer is prized for its ability to spark emotions, help us stay fit, and entertain the masses.
In most parts of the world, people literally equate soccer to a religion. We are yet to see another sport that has the same number of fans as soccer.
Although there are numerous characteristics of soccer that attract people to the game, the dribbling skills displayed by soccer players remain the strongest appetizer. Some dribbling skills are so unique that only a few players ever attempt them.
There is an endless list of good dribblers in professional soccer but a few are exceptionally skilled which distinguishes them from the rest. Such players can confidently take on the entire defensive squad of opponent teams and still find a way through to score goals.
Soccer players like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Jay Jay Okocha, and others easily come to mind. Big clubs make lots of money from selling souvenirs and club jerseys bearing the names of such players on them.
This explains why soccer players should strive to become good dribblers. Today, we shall look at how you can master dribbling in soccer like most of the soccer stars you admire.
How To Master Dribbling in Soccer?
Mastering dribbling is an essential task that any soccer player aiming to elevate to a pro athlete level must take seriously. It is the best way to work yourself out of pressure encountered on the pitch.
Dribbling is to soccer what salt is to food; it makes the sport sweeter. When soccer players display rare skills on the pitch, it sends the crowd of supporters into a frenzy.
Also, when an attacker successfully dribbles a defender multiple times, the defender can become frustrated and lose focus on the game. Eventually, they may begin to commit reckless fouls that may work against the entire team and in favor of the opposition team.
Soccer players who master dribbling easily garner large followers and easily attract brand endorsements. If you hope to make more money from soccer, mastering dribbling should be one of your priorities.
Well, players that have mastered dribbling did not get there overnight. It takes dedication, time, effort, and constant practice.
Besides the fanfare, professional soccer players use dribbling to maintain control and possession of the ball, beat or humiliate defenders, and create goal-scoring opportunities.
Dribbling is not exclusive to attackers and strikers alone. If you are an ardent fan of soccer, you might have witnessed a few instances where goalkeepers chose to dribble past opponents when they are not allowed to use their hands.
By following the guide we will outline, you will become phenomenal at dribbling. With consistent practice, you should see your fame shoot up and big clubs queuing to get your signature.
Although some players are born talented, training plays a major role in mastering the act of dribbling. So, if you are not one of those born with a dribbling talent, you can build it up with constant practice.
Let’s look at some soccer drills that can improve your mastery of dribbling using gates and cones.
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Common gate drills for improving dribbling
Dribbling involves a lot of running and switching directions. Therefore, engaging in drills that can help you run faster and switch directions better is paramount.
Gate drills are highly effective. Below are some common soccer drills involving the use of gates to improve your dribbling skills.
- Shuttle Runs
Shuttle runs are effective when practiced daily by soccer players. They are good for improving speed and dribbling skills. While dribbling, a soccer player will make rapid movements in different directions and alternate between sprinting and dashing.
Drills that don’t capture those key elements aren’t suitable for mastering dribbling. This is why shutter runs are listed among the suitable dribbling drills for youth soccer teams.
To perform the shutter run drill, you need 4 gates arranged parallel to each other with about 3 meters between each gate. Start this drill by running with the ball on your feet from the first gate to the second gate.
Once you reach the second gate, make a quick 180-degree turn and run back to the first gate with the ball. From the first gate, run with the ball again to the third gate and back to gate one after making another 180-degree turn.
Continue the same pattern and make sure to increase your sprint speed a little bit after every rep. Try using your left and right foot to steer the ball while sprinting.
- Fast Lane Dribbling Drill
This drill is among the best drills for improving your dribble and overall speed while moving linearly. This drill requires you to set up 6 training cones in a straight line with 7 feet between each cone.
Create another parallel line of cones close to the first arrangement and arrange them 3 feet apart from the first line. This creates 6 gates that will help you execute this drill.
Start going through the gates as fast as possible with the ball on your feet. Don’t bother about how many times you touch the soccer ball while moving, just focus on maintaining control of the ball.
Make sure to use both of your feet in moving the ball while practicing this drill. In another variation, you are required to note the number of times you touch the ball with your dribbling foot after each step.
To maintain adequate control of the ball while moving, it is best to use the outside of your foot in steering it. Many professional soccer players have this drill as part of their training routine.
- Gated Turn
A gated turn drill is designed to improve your ball control, agility, and explosiveness when running linearly or switching directions.
You only need one gate and one extra cone to perform this drill. The gate should be 3 feet wide and the extra cone must be kept 10 feet away from the gate. With the ball on your feet, accelerate through the gate and run to the cone 10 feet away and go around it with the ball.
To achieve a quick turn, steer the ball with the outside of your foot while turning. Run back to the gate with the ball still at your feet and halt the ball once you reach the gate.
Repeat this action 10 times with your right foot and do the same with your left foot after 2 to 5 minutes of rest. This gate drill will improve your dribbling skills if you keep practicing.
Common cone drills for improving dribbling
The importance of cone drills is often underestimated. Cone drills can be used in improving ball control, dribbling, and changing direction.
Although cones are static and look nothing like real soccer opponents, they can help you prepare for an encounter with real opponents. Below are some cone drills that can improve your dribbling skills.
- Square/Box Dribble Drill
This is an easy cone drill designed to improve your dribble and ball control while maintaining a square space. Four cones placed 8 to 10 feet apart to form a square would be needed for this drill.
While in the square, you have to control the soccer ball with the outside of your foot around the edges of the square created by the four cones. Use your inside foot to make turns.
Keep repeating this movement in the square until you get tired. Switch between your right and left foot for maximum efficiency. Don’t accelerate immediately after reaching the edge of a cone and always pay attention to your turns.
- Diagonal Speed Dribble Drill
This drill combines speed with agility and is a lot of fun to do aside from improving your dribbling skills. It is an advanced soccer drill because it mimics the process of moving past real soccer opponents on the pitch.
You need just four cones to perform this drill. After placing the first cone, the second cone should be placed 6 to 8 feet away from the first. The third cone should be placed 12 to 16 feet away from the second and the fourth cone should be 6 to 8 feet from the third.
After a proper setup of the four cones, they should look like a trapezoid when their sides are closed. The setup aims to combine both short and long-distance dribbling in soccer. The distance between cones one and two is shorter than that of two to three.
Start by quickly moving the ball with your dribbling foot diagonally from cone one until you reach cone four. At cone four, make a sharp turn and retrace your path back to cone one.
The longer path between cones two and three allows you to increase your speed while still in control of the ball. Try as much as possible to resist looking at the soccer ball while moving from one cone to another.
You can complete two reps with each foot for maximum effect. The faster you cover the distance from the first cone to the fourth and back, the better. However, the priority should be maintaining excellent ball control.
- Figure Eight Drill
This drill requires you to set up two cones 3 to 5 feet apart. Start by dribbling the ball in and around both cones as if you are forming the letter 8. Take only short steps with the soccer ball to avoid missing the pattern.
To succeed in this soccer drill, you must position your body correctly and your feet shouldn’t find it difficult to change direction regularly. Always lean over the ball with your knee slightly bent. This gives you a lower center of gravity and better balance and ball control.
Learn to switch feet for a better effect. Likewise, combine both your outside and inside foot while pushing the ball.
- Cone weave Drill
The cone weave drill is a popular drill used by soccer players to enhance their dribbling skills. It is effective and teaches players to apply all the parts of their feet while steering the soccer ball.
Aside from improving your body positioning, this drill also enhances your game-specific agility. You need as many as 10 to 15 cones to perform this drill. Arrange the cones in a straight line, two feet or a foot and half apart from each other.
Start by steering the soccer ball with one foot between the cones in a zigzag pattern. Try making as many slight touches as possible while steering the ball without obstructing the zigzag pattern or chasing after the ball.
Both the inside and outside of your foot are needed while steering the ball. If you started the drill with your right leg, push the ball with the outside of your foot around the first cone.
At the second cone, push the ball left using the inside of your foot. Repeat that exact pattern from there onwards until you reach the last cone then do a reversal of that exact pattern.
The first few tries might be a bit rough and messy but don’t stop practicing because you will eventually get better. Do 5 reps for each leg to help your dribbling skills improve.
After mastering the basic cone weave soccer drill, you can transition into other difficult versions such as the left or right roll inside touch, left or right inside-outside, and left or right crossover.
Before you can master dribbling in soccer, you must endeavor to remain committed to training. Proper training differentiates exceptional soccer players from average players.
It is important to start learning how to dribble from a very young age and also from experienced coaches. Dribbling brings out the resilience, confidence, and competitiveness of soccer players.
Soccer is often too serious and any player that makes an effort to lighten the mood is always applauded. In addition to that, a good dribbling skill can help you to get out of sticky situations in the game.
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!