HELPFUL CLEAT TIP
TO DRY OFF YOUR CLEATS AFTER A GAME IN THE RAIN, BALL UP A FEW OLD (NOT YOUR PARENTS NEW) NEWSPAPER PAGES AND STUFF INTO YOUR CLEATS. ALSO WRAP A FEW PAGES ON THE OUTSIDE. LET THEM SIT OVERNIGHT. IF THE CLEATS ARE VERY WET, YOU MAY NEED TO DO THIS AGAIN. THE PAPER WILL HELP DRAW OUT THE MOISTURE!
DRIBBLING WITH SPEED
To dribble at speed, use either your instep (which is your shoe laces) or the outside of the foot while pointing the toes down on the foot that is making contact with the ball. By using either of these two surfaces of the foot, you will be able to run faster than if you use the inside of the foot to dribble.
The key to speed dribbling is that you do NOT want to keep the ball real close to your body at all times. Instead, push the ball far out in front of you and then run after it. The reason for this is that you can run faster without the ball than with it so by pushing the ball far out in front you, you can take advantage of the open space and run as much without the ball as possible. This is one of the biggest mistakes that is made by players because they have been taught to keep the ball under control when dribbling and thus, don't dribble with much speed.
Players, who recognize when they have open space to dribble into, and are willing to push the ball out in front of them, are the ones who tend to create opportunities for themselves and their team.
Being Ready To Receive A Ball
When a tennis player is waiting to receive a serve they have their knees bent, their feet moving, their racquet in a position to hit the ball and their eyes are on the ball. When a baseball batter is awaiting a pitch, their knees are bent, they are on the balls of their feet, their bat is in a position to hit the ball and they are staring at the ball. When a basketball player is guarding her player, she has her knees bent, is on the balls of her feet and is concentrating on her player and the ball. Since they all have this in common, why do so many soccer players think they can stand flat footed, knees straight, semi paying attention and then think they will be prepared to receive the ball properly???
The first key to being prepared to receive the ball is to know where the ball is at all times. Too often supporting players on a field stand or make runs but don’t know where the ball is so when the ball is played to them, they are surprised as it gets to them. Seeing the ball at all times is vital to success in receiving.
The second key is to be on the balls of the feet with the knees bent. This will allow the player to react to a ball that is played whether it’s a perfect ball or played slightly off target.
The third key is to have the body positioned in a way that the body is opened up to receive the ball. It’s very difficult to receive a ball across the body so the more a body is opened up and facing the path the ball is going to take, the easier it is to receive the ball.
Lastly, the key is to expect and want the ball.
Being prepared to receive the ball will make you much better at actually receiving the ball and will make the game more enjoyable to be able to control the ball simply by preparing properly. Remember, proper prior planning prevents poor performance!
Stiffen or relax the receiving foot so the ball stops about one step away (so you can quickly take one step & strike it; it is this step that gives power to the pass).
Be sure the receiving foot is 4" - 5" off the ground (if too low the ball will pop up) & contact the ball on the back part of foot (under the anklebone), not near the toes. Pull the toes up so the foot is parallel with the ground (not pointing downward). (If a player can't remember to raise his foot, have him practice by raising his foot higher than the ball & then bringing the foot down in front of the ball to stop it. This will help him to remember).
If you want the ball to go to the left or right (instead of straight in front) you must angle your foot & contact the ball more in front or behind, depending on whether you want it to go left or right.
Generating Power when Shooting or Driving a ball
Watch top players right before they strike a hard shot and they always make their last step leading into the plant, a long one powerful one.
When you see a player stutter step prior to their plant it results in the shot frequently getting blocked (because it takes longer to take a few stutter steps than one big step) and if it’s not blocked, there will be a dramatic loss of power. Instead, take one big, long step prior to planting, get to the shot quicker and get more power from your shot.
Relaxing with the ball
When a ball is coming to you, there are a number of ways to stay in control and not feel pressured into doing something you don’t have to do.
First of all, try to have as much information as possible before receiving the ball. Look around as the ball is coming to you and know what your options are (in this case, knowing your options in advance will allow you more time once the ball gets to you). Know where you can pass to, whether you have time to receive the ball or whether you have to play one touch, whether you have space and time or not etc.
Secondly, right before the ball gets to you, take a deep breath and then exhale. This will help you to relax just before the ball arrives.
Thirdly, don’t worry about what happened before. If you mis-hit a pass earlier or had a bad touch earlier, don’t let that effect what you do next. Don’t keep worrying about the an earlier error to the point it causes you to make yet another mistake. You can learn from prior mistakes but don’t let an earlier error put so much pressure on you to the point it causes another one.
The long term solution to learning to relax with the ball is to simply get more comfortable with the ball. Whether it’s by doing skill drills, juggling, dribbling or playing more games, the more you have the ball at your feet, the more comfortable you will be and the easier it will be for you to relax with the ball.
The more you can relax with the ball the more successful you will be.
Finishing the play
Remember: Great shots, no matter how pretty, only count once the ball enters the goal. There are no style points in soccer. That toe poke “put back” from one yard away counts the same number of points as that beautiful 30 yard scorcher that hits the top corner of the net.
SHIELDING THE SOCCER BALL FROM YOUR OPPONENT
First, lets define what shielding actually entails. It's using your body to keep the ball away from the opponent. It can be misconstrued as obstruction however; the difference is that shielding is done within playing difference from the ball.
One of the keys to being an effective shielder is to position your body properly between the defender and the ball. Too many players think that standing with their back to the defender and between the ball and the defender is doing the job properly. However, this is not an effective way to shield. It is too easy for the defender to poke the ball away from the player from this post ion either by sticking their leg between the shielders leg or by poking around the shielder. Instead of this position, the player should assume a side on position. This means that instead of having the back to the defender, the shielder should have their width of the body between the defender and the ball. This means the shielders shoulder should be up against the defender and the only way for the defender to get to the ball, he must go through the shielders entire width of his body to get to the ball. This will make it much more difficult for the defender to get to the ball.
Once he has positioned himself properly by being side on to the defender, he must now start to use his arms properly to shield. The arm closest to the defender should be slightly bent and used to ward off the defender (note I am not saying to push the defender away with an outstretched arm as that would be against the rules and easily seen). By using this arm properly, the shielder can build even more space between the defender and the ball.
Next it is important to maintain a low base while shielding. This means getting a nice bend from the knees and a slight bend from the waist. By doing this, the shielder accomplishes two things. First, he makes himself even wider which puts even more space between the defender and the ball. Second, it lowers his center of gravity, which will make him harder to get knocked off of the ball.
Having assumed the proper position, started to use the arms properly and taken a low stance, you are now ready to start shielding properly. One of the mistakes made by players while shielding is to allow the ball to get between the legs, which make the ball vulnerable to a poke tackle. Keep possession of the ball with the outside of the foot furthest from the defender and be prepared to cut the ball in either direction. From here, shielding becomes a matter of footwork and desire. Keep your feet moving and make the decision to not lose
possession of the ball.
DO NOT KICK IT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD, ALWAYS KICK TOWARD THE SIDE LINES