There are not many people in the world of soccer that are more likable than Brazilian legend Ronaldinho Gaucho. Anyone who loves soccer knows that he was one of the best dribblers and jugglers of the ball.
It takes some work before one can complete 10-20 successful juggles. In 2010, Ronaldinho was able to juggle the ball a whopping 44 times in a blindfold challenge.
Many up-and-coming players aspire to develop their soccer skills to an elite level. Sometimes, it could take years for an amateur player to hone these sets of skills. For others, it comes naturally to them and they get it right without much effort on their part.
Juggling a soccer ball represents a skill that shows a soccer player has mastered the art of patience, technique, and ball control all wrapped up in one.
There is little surprise that it is one of the displays used by soccer clubs when unveiling new signings. We have seen professional players like Martin Braithwaite (Barcelona) and Theo Bernard Hernandez (Real Madrid) fumble the ball when being presented to the club.
What this shows us is that the problem with juggling the ball is not limited to amateur soccer players and those with little experience in playing the sport. Let us focus on why a soccer player may find difficulty in juggling a soccer ball.
What does juggling mean in soccer?
Juggling in soccer is a skill that requires a player to keep the ball in the air by simultaneous control. Juggling involves the use of all body relevant body parts that are accepted when playing soccer. They include; head, shoulder, front thighs, feet, chest, and elbow.
The advanced soccer jugglers are able to modify the art and use their backs as part of the drill. Other highly gifted jugglers are able to shift from standing to sitting position while still being able to control the ball in the air.
Ball juggling is more often than not done during team practice sessions or when a player has some spare time to improve different areas of the game.
The art of juggling the ball properly improves the confidence of a player. Picture this, week one a player successfully does five juggles, the next week ten, then 30 by the third month of practicing. This is an indicator of progress in terms of individual skills.
Why can’t I juggle a soccer ball?
There are instances where you just can’t keep the ball up in the air when juggling. As stated earlier, even professional soccer players sometimes struggle with this predicament.
There are several reasons that may contribute to this issue.
Playing soccer or even practicing in soccer requires high concentration levels. The best strikers are trained to shoot with eyes on the goalkeepers and not on the ball. Similarly, juggling the ball for even 20-30 seconds requires a high level of concentration.
The juggler’s eyes should synchronize with their body and ball to ensure that they knock the ball with the correct force so that it still remains close to the body and anticipate where it will go. A dip in concentration even for a second could result in the form being lost.
Having the wrong shoes while playing or practicing in soccer can affect performance or skills success. It is the reason why we do not use indoor soccer shoes in a grass field or use soccer boots with cleats in an indoor arena.
Of course, there are those who have mastered the skill of ball juggling without the need for shoes altogether but as someone aspiring to develop the skill, they need to put themselves in the best possible situation to succeed.
Wear the proper soccer boots and equipment to prepare yourself for training on juggling the ball. Remember, it takes skill and patience to be able to juggle a ball over a period of time.
Sometimes, when you are nervous, you may not be able to do something as good as when you were confident and composed. Juggling a soccer ball requires concentration. It is pretty difficult to concentrate on timing, the force of knocking the ball, and movement when one is nervous.
This may be the reason why form in juggling is off. How you can go about this is to look for an isolated space where you can try juggling by yourself.
Here, you can make all the mistakes, fumble the ball and even lose balance without the fear of being judged or having eyes on you. But, you will be able to learn and progress.
It is common knowledge that soccer players, even professional players, have to ‘prepare’ their body to play. Even before they start on their drills and routine, they do some stretches just to prevent some stiffness in the body.
When the body is a bit stiff, a soccer player may find it a bit difficult to juggle as their coordination will be off. Get those stretches in to make your feet and entire body ready to do some juggling.
5. Lack of warm up
Warm up is necessary before any type of physical activity. Professional players may have trained intensively for the whole week but still warm up before the start of the match.
Juggling the ball is no different. There is no session where a coach starts with ball juggling. His or her soccer players first have to prepare their bodies and muscles with a warm up. It could be a light jog around the field followed by some sprints just to get the feet ready.
6. Different skill set
Soccer players who cannot juggle the ball should not be discouraged. Maybe their skill set lies elsewhere. Juggling is just one aspect of skills in soccer. There is heading, stamina drills, shooting, defending among others.
Even professional players have different strengths and weaknesses. Lionel Messi is a prolific scorer and playmaker but terrible at defending.
Juggling may not be a skill that one is good at despite trying very hard. It is okay because there are so many other skills that may be more suited to your style of play.
What is the trick to juggling a soccer ball?
Well, juggling a soccer ball is an art that can be developed with the right attitude and a few pointers. Over time, soccer players can improve their game as a result. What are some simple tips that a player could use to improve their ball juggling skills?
There is no simpler way of putting this. It is said that practice makes perfect. In this case, practice makes a better player. The end product we see from players in a match is a result of putting in the work during practice sessions. Feel the ball, prepare your feet. Do it again and again until you get it right.
- Setting goals.
Maybe you only juggle the ball once or twice before it falls to the ground. Set realistic goals for your path to improvement. Each day when you practice, put a higher target on ball juggles that you can successfully do. Avoid trying to do too much all at once.
- Aim for the laces
In order to put the proper force to the ball, you have to aim for the laces section of the soccer shoe when gently knocking the ball into the air. This will create a consistent flight of the ball and help you anticipate where the ball will go next.
- Start with a stronger foot
By the time you get to juggling a ball, you may have already known which of your feet is the stronger foot. Take the time to first start juggling with your stronger foot. Once you have done a few successful ones, stop and start again.
When you are more confident, then you can start alternating the juggles between your two feet. Remember, try to complete only a few juggles as you build your technique and confidence.
Is it OK to play soccer and not know how to juggle?
The short answer to this is yes it is okay. There is not a single complete player. That is why there are different positions in soccer. A goalkeeper may be very good between the posts but cannot control the ball as a striker or midfielder would do.
You can develop other areas of your game and be the best at doing so even when skills in ball juggling may not be good. Coaches are designed to capitalize on a player’s strengths wherever they lie.
Having more skills of course is a valuable resource for any soccer player. However, lacking a particular skill such as juggling the ball should not dissuade you from thinking that you cannot contribute in a team setting.
Being able to juggle a soccer ball may come easy to others but requires patience and dedication by those trying to develop the skill.
Professional players have sometimes also struggled with showcasing the skill. With time, anyone can start mastering the skill of juggling a soccer ball.
Setting goals and realistic targets is imperative for soccer players who are trying to improve their ball juggling skills. Look for space and time where you can practice on your own and improve at your pace.
Ultimately, soccer is a team sport and you can contribute massively in other aspects of the game even without a proper skill in ball juggling. Keep your head high and focus on your strengths as there are several positions you could fill on the pitch.
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!