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What Skills Do You Need to Play Soccer? 11 Basic Skills

What Skills Do You Need to Play Soccer? 11 Basic Skills

Soccer is unlike every other sport because the feet are the significant part of the body that is needed to perform most of the skills required for the game. There are various fundamental skills that a soccer player needs to be able to play the game of soccer.

The elite soccer players are called elites because they have mastered some fundamental skills and turned them into complex skills.

Some of these skills include shooting, passing, and dribbling. Of course, every soccer player has their own skill. For example, the skills of an attacker would be entirely different from that of the goalkeeper and the defender different from that of the midfielder. However, there are skills that are common to every soccer player.

You must have wondered how soccer elites like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo came to be great soccer players; well, it is through their skills.

The players mentioned above took a lot of time to get their level of skill mastery, but working hard and practicing your skills is a sure way to become a better soccer player.

A soccer game is taking

What skills do you need to play soccer?

Every soccer player has their own unique skill set, attributes, or playing style; however, there are various skills that are common to every soccer player that can be mastered.

There are various skills that soccer players need to play soccer and work on to improve the team. Some of these skills are on the collective and individual levels.

Though some skills are more important than some, getting the fundamental skills needed to play soccer is the key.

It is essential that every soccer player focuses on these skills as they would help you play the game better.

Take, for example; it is essential that every soccer player is able to pass the ball with precision and with power. No soccer player can be termed a good soccer player if he does not know how to pass the ball or learn how to play it.

It becomes essential that a soccer player masters various soccer skills for these reasons.

In the following sections, you will be shown some of the skills that every soccer player needs to play soccer, become an effective soccer player, and take their soccer game to the next level.

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Passing and Receiving Skill

As a soccer player, a fundamental skill you need in soccer is to be able to pass the ball efficiently and accurately. In addition, a soccer player has to be able to pass the ball to any player or desired location on the pitch.

It could either be sending a pass into space with the right weight, or sending the ball right into the feet of a teammate with precision and power, or even crossing the ball right in front of the opposition’s net.

For strikers, they have to be able to shoot the ball powerfully and accurately into the net. As a soccer player, you are not complete if you do not accurately pass the ball with both of your feet.

No player thrives if they cannot pass correctly. Though it is pretty hard to train to pass, it can be done with focus and commitment.

You might be able to pass the ball accurately while training, but it is usually a different thing to get the pass right with the intensity and pressure that accompanies a game.

Various factors can determine accurately passing the ball.

a pass has just been made

You have to consider various factors like the distance your teammates are running, the distance of the opposition players, and multiple essentials that usually affect or influence passing.

It takes a lot of skill to perform passes, and on various occasions, you might have opposition players coming hard on you, which would leave you to make split-second decisions.

You should work on both long-distance passing and short-distance passing because you would need to perform both types of passing in every game.

Passing is getting the ball to where you want it. To pass a ball accurately, you should kick it with the inside of your foot. Though it gives less power, you would be more accurate.

After mastering basic passing, you can attempt to slice and hook the ball to pass to any of your teammates.

Always ensure that you anticipate where the players are. For example, while your teammates are running, ensure that the ball is kicked ahead of them. It ensures that your teammates get to the ball in stride.

The ball can be hooked by using the inside of your foot, but your foot should be turned forward as you take a strike with the ball. Ensure that your foot is at a 45-degree angle towards your target instead of a 90-degree angle.

LEARN THE "PING" | Long pass football skills tutorial

For slicing, you have to strike the ball using the outside of your foot while you sweep your leg in a hooking motion.

Accompanied with adequately passing the ball is receiving the ball. You might receive the ball through the air or through the ground, but what is essential is that your shoulders are squared, facing the direction the ball is received.

If the ball is coming from the ground, your foot should be turned towards the outside like you are passing the ball while you bend your knees and cushion the ball, so it comes to a stop at your feet.

For balls that are coming through the air, the chest is the most likely part of the body to receive the ball. Therefore, you have to stand with your back slightly arched backward.

It ensures that when you receive the ball with your chest, you can perfectly control the ball so it will not go out of your control.

Genius Through & Long Passes

Dribbling Skills

Another critical skill that is needed to play soccer is dribbling skills. Lionel Messi is described as the best dribbler in the current soccer world. However, it is seen that when Messi plays, the ball is stuck to his feet like a magnet to a nail. Therefore, he is pretty hard to tackle.

Dribbling is an essential complex skill that most soccer players need to perform. For every good soccer dribbler, you have to be able to move at utmost speeds with the ball at your feet, trust in your abilities, avoid tackling by oppositions while the ball is nudging your feet.

Most soccer players are able to dribble by using the top of their foot to push the ball along the ground.

Using every part of your feet correctly ensures that you are able to dribble properly. The aim of dribbling is to be able to move the ball while ensuring that the ball is close to your body.

A soccer player is dribbling in the training session

It ensures that you are able to make quick and fast decisions, either changing directions, shooting, or passing when needed.

You have to practice dribbling around the pitch to get better at dribbling. Therefore, making use of cones and other means of training dribbling is advised.

Get a partner and practice some of the dribbling drills out there. You can also learn a lot from watching soccer games of good dribblers like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and others.

Another vital aspect of dribbling is to learn to avoid looking down while dribbling on the pitch. Instead, get comfortable with the ball on your feet while being able to look around the pitch.

After mastering the above, start running with the ball at your feet, try out changing directions while you run, and perform slalom drills.

The Art of Dribbling

Good Ball Control and First Touch 

Another skill that is needed to play soccer is ball control and first touch. The best and elite soccer players are capable of controlling the ball at a moment’s notice.

This skill is one of the skills that every soccer player needs to learn when they begin to play soccer.

Learning ball control is essential because if you have no proper ball control, it would be effortless for the opposition player to take possession of the ball from you after you gain possession.

Therefore, you must learn to improve your ball control and first touches with your thigh, chest, feet, etc.

Elite soccer players are capable of controlling the ball in the air and on the ground and can make use of every part of their body to do so.

Watching some videos of Ronaldinho practice, you would see how perfectly a soccer player needs to control the ball by working on his ball control and first touch.

Ball Control is a skill that every soccer player must have, irrespective of the position that you play in. From shooting to passing to tackling, you have to be able to control the ball properly if you wish to develop a plethora of game skills.

Player soccer is controlling the ball on the field

The first touch can be developed by practicing passing with a rebounder or a wall. There are also training drills that can help you to control the ball better.

Your first touch has to be skillfully performed to stop the ball at the right spot that you intend. It ensures that the ball is placed correctly for your next move, be it a shot or a pass.

If you are unable to control the ball perfectly, defenders can close in on you quickly and take away your chance for a shot or pass. You might sometimes even struggle to get the ball out from your feet when swarmed by defenders.

The method of receiving the ball is another essential part of ball control; therefore, you must be able to take the ball into the proper position with a single touch. It takes a significant amount of skill to do this.

Top players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Messi, and others make this skill look easy when they take balls from the air and run in a single movement.

MASTER THE CLOSE CONTROL | Improve your football skills

You should spend quality time training yourself to develop your first touch and ball control. There are a lot of drills that you can practice to hone these skills.

Another soccer skill needed for good ball control is quickness. Not to be confused with speed, quickness has to do with every player’s time to effectively think and make game decisions.

Speed, on the other hand, is the velocity of running. Therefore, every soccer skill needs quickness for them to be performed.

It would not be suitable if you can control the ball but are not quick enough to do it. Moreover, soccer skills cannot be executed after the defender has taken the ball.

For these reasons, a soccer player needs to be quick on his feet and develop a quick mind when playing soccer.

Shooting Skill

Another essential skill that is needed to play soccer is shooting Skills. The aim of every soccer game is to score goals, and therefore if you do not take shots at the goal post, there would be no goal Scored.

Everybody loves to score a volley or a screamer. This is why you see the applause from the fans whenever a beautiful shot lands in the back of the net.

It is crucial that you learn to strike the ball with precision and power. It improves your soccer potential and helps in getting your name out and pushing your team to victory.

Shooting is a skill that every midfielder and striker must-have. You have to work on being able to shoot since you might have the chance to score and help your team clinch the victory. Taking advantage of such opportunities is very important.

To shoot when you are close to the goal, you can make use of the inside of your foot, similar to passing, to shoot. However, since you are going to be farther away from the goal, you would need to add power and accuracy to your shot.

The soccer player in yellow is shooting while running

Hit the ball with the left part of your shoe middle lace while ensuring that your foot is pointed to the ground. While your foot is pinned down to the ground, your hips should be used to swing the ball through.

Your foot should be brought across your body to generate more power, causing both feet to lift off the ground.

While training, you should spend some time training your shooting skill since scoring is the only way to win matches.

Ways to shoot the ball include screamers, shooting while moving, volleys, free kicks, etc. But, unfortunately, these methods make the skill difficult. That is why good goal scorers are highly sought after by scouts and coaches in the world.

Train your shooting skills through drills. Practice shooting with both of your feet so you can eliminate any weakness.

A soccer player is shooting

Precision and accuracy are essential skills needed to convert shots. When shooting to the goal, you have to be precise and have accuracy since you do not want to pull down a bird from the air.

As a striker, there is little room for mistakes; therefore, you have to time your accuracy and precision. Whenever the opportunity to score presents itself, you have to be precise and take the shot.

For counter-attacks, you have to be able to make quick decisions and execute your passes precisely, or you might lose the ball or the opportunity to score.

Precision is needed for everything in soccer, from scoring, to passing, to timing your runs or even defending. For example, if a striker is unable to run at the right time or sprints too late, he might be caught offside. Therefore it is crucial that you are precise in every decision and aspect of the game.


Heading skill

Another skill that a soccer player needs is heading skill. This skill is especially required for beginners since most beginners see heading as unnatural and alien to use.

The usual reaction of a person when an object comes towards him is to duck or dodge. The same happens when an aerial ball comes your way.

Irrespective of the position you play in soccer, you need to head the ball that comes your way. Having the ability to head might be a deciding factor that might enable your team to either win or lose a game.

Having an excellent heading ability gives you an edge over your opponents. Whenever the ball gets above the head of everyone on the pitch, you should always try to contest for control of the ball.

Leaving the ball to hit the ground might result in you conceding a goal or losing the ball to your opposition. Therefore, every soccer player needs to acquire heading skills since they can be used in various ways.

The soccer player is taking a header

It could be for saving goals, scoring goals, or even clearing the ball.

There are some basic techniques that you need to have to be able to head the ball. First, ensure that your feet are firmly planted to head the ball on the ground.

Then time your jump. Ensure that your knees are bent. It would enable you to propel your body forward to make contact with the ball.

Ensure that you do not wait for the ball to meet you. You have to initiate contact with the ball. Move your head towards the ball before the ball makes contact with you. Ensure that your head is moved in the direction that you want the ball to go.

Most soccer players make use of one foot to jump; however, Cristiano Ronaldo is famous for making two-footed jumps, which gives him a compelling and strong option when in the air.

HOW TO HEAD LIKE CR7 | Header tutorial - learn football skills

Speeding and Sprinting skill

Another vital skill that a soccer player needs is sprinting and speeding skills. Some soccer players are genetically blessed with a natural speed, but if you do not work on improving your sprinting process, you might not get to your full potential.

Speed and sprinting can be taught to every soccer player and athlete in general. Therefore, every soccer player has the possibility of increasing their speed and Sprinting.

As a soccer player, it is vital that you master proper sprinting. Sprinting not only allows you to run fast but also helps reduce your risk of injuries usually caused by poor mechanics.

Speed training usually takes a long time before you can see any improvement, but when you’re attentive and focused on sprinting, you can see improvement generally within a few hours.

Speed is vital for most sports today but is more in soccer since the sport is fast-paced, and every person on the pitch is running around the field for more than 90 minutes.

Speed is not just about running alone. It also entails running at full pace for the entire duration of a soccer game. It is what matters most.

In soccer, every player should pay attention to; the speed with the ball and speed without the ball.

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Speeding with the Ball

Strikers or forwards, full backs, and midfielders must develop speed with the ball at their feet to play to their maximum potential in their position.

It does not mean that they have to be very fast on the pitch, but they have to be able to run at full speed whenever they are with the ball or are dribbling.

Though it is pretty tough to learn the skill of speed with the ball, it is a very vital skill since it always keeps the opposition defenders out on their toes.

Looking at some of the clubs in the world of soccer, they might not be the best team out there, but they sure know how to leverage the speed of their players.

Such teams don’t wait around for the ball. Instead, the players move around the pitch to throw off the defense with the ball.

Also, such teams are usually good on counter offense since they have players that are ready to run without the ball or with the ball.

two soccer players are racing at speed

Speeding without the Ball

When your team is on the offense, you need to learn to be able to remove yourself from the opposition defenders around you. Take, for example, as a winger. You have to be able to run past the fullback and the center back on their side.

If you do not have speed, the opponent’s defenders would not be worried about you getting past them.

For defenders, you need speed to be able to stop strikers or attackers from getting past you

Mo Salah - Top 10 Sprint Speeds for Liverpool

Defending Skill

Another skill that soccer players need is defending skill. To some, defending might be one of the most challenging skills to master.

Defenders are the players who are closely scrutinized in every game on the pitch. So it is because if a defender makes a mistake or has a lapse in concentration on the pitch, or even loses a man, the game could be titled towards the opposition.

For every soccer player, being a defender involves a lot of techniques and skills; this is why people often refer to defending as a difficult skill to master. A good defender has to properly position himself, have reasonable ball control, be skillful and be well rounded.

You should perform most of the fundamental skills right. Therefore, such skills as ten yards out from the penalty box or stepovers should be left out. Instead, the focus should be on passing properly, relieving pressure for your teammates, and clearing the ball high enough in the pitch.

As a defender, your primary responsibility is to always be on your feet and stick to attackers thinking of getting past you.

In defending, being able to tackle, shield and trap the ball is also a very essential skill.

2 players in blue are tackling

Tackling is another defensive skill that players use to keep the opponent from getting the ball when shielding, trapping, or receiving the ball.

To perform this skill, you have to know the rules of player to opponent contact and how you can make use of your body and feet to prevent your opponent from accessing the ball.

You can practice tracking and shielding by playing one-on-one soccer.

On the other hand, shielding is to prevent the ball from your opponents while you shoot or pass it. For example, when you watch professional soccer, you see pro soccer players using their bodies as a shield placed between the ball and the opponent.

Learning to trap the ball when you receive it is another skill that is important in soccer.

You can use your head, foot, chest, or thighs to trap a ball; this is why you need reasonable ball control, as it would allow you to trap any ball received perfectly.

The parts mentioned above can be used to touch the ball without incurring a foul, and they can be used to slow down the ball and get it under your control.

Trapping can be practiced by having your partner kick or throw the ball to you through the air.

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Positioning Skill

Another skill that you need to play in soccer is proper positioning. So much of soccer is about positional play. For example, you might be a defender, midfielder, or striker. You have to ensure that you know the right time to break forward or track your man for your team to win.

Most people think positioning is not a skill, but it is crucial that every player is positioned correctly; that is why there are various places that soccer players are set when making team formations.

Every good soccer player has to be able to move up and down the pitch. A striker, for example, has to be able to position himself for scoring opportunities or breaking forward to get into goal-scoring positions.

Every soccer player should keep their eyes on the ball and adequately position themselves on the pitch. 

Some of the best goal scorers in the world of soccer, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Diego Costa, and Luis Suarez, are players that gambled for every rebound coming their way.

Never Forget the Brilliance of Fernando Torres...

Spatial Awareness

Another skill that is needed to play soccer is spatial intelligence or awareness. Spatial awareness is the ability of a player to see every part of the pitch clearly and make use of it to his advantage.

As a soccer player, you have to be aware of your immediate space, based on where the ball is positioned, the opponent’s positions, and your teammates’ position.

You should be aware of how your teammates will receive your pass and how you can draw the defender away from your teammate with the ball to proceed.

Having spatial intelligence ensures that you are always aware of the position of your teammates and where they ought to be, based on the positioning of your opponents.

You need to know where your teammates ought to be or are to tell them to better position themselves, anticipate the position of your teammates, and make fast and instinctive passes almost without looking at the ball.

Soccer Drill: Spatial Awareness (U11)

This is one of the skills that most scouts search for in every player.

Spatial intelligence or awareness also ensures that you are aware of the game’s geometry.

It would allow you to position yourself correctly and your teammates to make passing opportunities easier and create wide angles for yourself and your teammates while on the offense.

On the other hand, having a good spatial awareness allows you to create complex passing opportunities and narrow angles for your opponents while defending.

Though spatial awareness is a complex skill encompassing various skills, it is essential for every soccer player.

How to improve your awareness and vision - read the game

Goalkeeping Skill

Another skill needed to play soccer is goalkeeping skill. Any team with a good goalkeeper is assured of conceding fewer goals. Teams with good goalkeepers are always on the offense and have little worry for their defense.

You need fast reactions, good hands, and courage as a goalkeeper. Some of the best goalkeepers in the world of soccer, such as Peter Cech, Manuel Neuer, and Gianluigi Buffon, are not afraid to put their bodies in line to prevent a shot.

Courage is essential and perhaps has saved a lot of goals in the past than technical skills. However, this does not mean that technical skills should be discredited.

To improve your goalkeeping skill, you have to work on your reaction as much as you can. It would enable you to dive, duck, and save the ball at a fast pace.

The goalkeeper saves a difficult shot


Teamwork is another skill that you need to have to play soccer. Soccer is a team game. No single player can play any position by himself.

To be a better forward, you have to understand that you are not the priority, but your team is. If you are unable to score goals, your teammate can, so you have to help them.

In soccer, you have to work as a harmonized and collective unit. Working this way ensures that the team performs better. It is then necessary that every player works to improve the team’s cohesiveness.

Though there are times that a single player can carry his whole team, such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, they also need their teammates’ help to do so.

Teamwork comes in various forms, and it could range from great tackles, excellent assists, great goals, and using soccer skills to destabilize the opponents. Putting in effort usually rubs on your teammates, and this would ensure that your team performs at their utmost.


Soccer is a technical game, though some might say it is an easy sport. Soccer skills are essential in the game of soccer because to be among the best or elite, you need to have a plethora of well-rounded skills.

Irrespective of your position on the pitch, whether a defender, striker, or midfielder, you need to at least understand each skill.

A lot of training sessions and time are needed to master these skills. When you master them, you will be among the best soccer players on your team. Furthermore, when you continue to work on your skills, there is no way that you cannot become among the top players in the world of soccer.

It is important to note that soccer is about enjoying the game and playing it beautifully irrespective of how you work on your skills or train.

It is possible to train too hard or too much and lose sight of focus; that is why there should be a balance in your training workload to ensure that you do not lose focus.

All the skills listed above are very crucial, and if you can master them, your game will definitely take the next step.

There are various soccer skills and tricks that can be learned in soccer. You can set yourself apart when you master the skills above since mastering these skills would ensure that you become formidable on the pitch.

Like everything in life, you have to be disciplined and work hard if you wish to see improvements. Putting time and effort would ensure that your goals are achieved.