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How To Dribble a Soccer Ball

Youth Soccer Player Dribbling A Soccer Ball past a sliding defender

How to Dribble a Soccer Ball

I spent hundred of hours training ball control on the field – here’s a deep dive analysis!

Knowing how to dribble a soccer ball is crucial to quickly shift around opponents while maintaining ball control. Dribbling speed showcases a player’s technical ability, aiding ball possession and creating scoring opportunities. It improves a player’s field awareness as they simultaneously control the ball and scan for passing options.

Unsettling defenses and dictating game-play with confident dribbling has evolved significantly.

I believe the best way to learn how to dribble a soccer ball is to update your training tactics using practical training tips.

That’s why in this post, you will learn how to beat soccer pressure in 10 easy steps:

Table of Contents

If you’re ready then let’s dive into this comprehensive playbook to uncover the strategies top soccer players use to beat pressure on the pitch.

1. What Are The Key Skills For How To Dribble a Soccer Ball?

Dribbling is pivotal in soccer, allowing players to maneuver past opponents with ball control. Key skills include:

  1. Ball Control: Keeping the ball close using various foot parts ensures adaptability in play.

  2. Footwork: Quick changes in pace and foot placement can deceive opponents.

  3. Directional Changes: Ability to shift fast. Changing direction quickly creates space and opportunities.

  4. Vision: Scanning the field allows anticipation of both teammates’ and opponents’ moves.

  5. Confidence: Confident dribbling means daring to take on defenders and experimenting with unpredictable moves.

Dribbling a soccer ball demands dedicated practice to refine these skills. Daily discipline is essential for a player’s on-field excellence in their pursuit to master how to dribble a soccer ball.

Ball Control

Ball control is crucial in soccer, enabling players to keep the soccer ball near their feet and direct it purposefully.

Observing professionals can offer insights into advanced techniques. These are the three most important:

  1. Maintaining and athletic posture for agility.
  2. Using different foot parts—inside, outside, and sole—for precision dribbling.
  3. Proper body alignment with the ball and the intended direction change enhances maneuverability.

Awareness of surrounding players and potential obstacles or openings is essential. Also referred to as ‘knowing how much space you have’.

Players must anticipate opponents’ moves and adjust their dribble accordingly.

Mastering ball control requires consistent practice and an understanding of how body position and foot usage influence the ball’s movement. Let’s be honest, having the best soccer cleats will make this practice way more fun!


Soccer Player Dribbling a soccer ball on a sunny day

In soccer, footwork is pivotal for effective dribbling, enabling players to control the ball and swiftly change directions.

Achieving proficient footwork involves balanced and coordinated movements, ensuring the ball remains close to the feet.

Versatility in using both feet can confuse opponents, especially if they’re trying to predict moves based on a player’s dominant foot.

Regular practice, focusing on precise foot placements and varying speeds, instills muscle memory, making intricate maneuvers second nature during games.

Mastering footwork allows players to dribble adeptly, maintain ball control, and navigate challenges fluidly on the pitch.

Directional Changes

Youth Soccer Using Directional Changes with the Soccer Ball To Beat Defenders

In soccer, vision is paramount for adept dribbling. It lets players:

  1. See the entire field.
  2. Anticipate defender movements.
  3. Make quick decisions.

Players can spot openings and adjust to threats by constantly scanning the field.

This foresight allows them to exploit spaces by dribbling or finding optimal passing routes.

Recognizing defender positions helps players adapt their dribble or pass to bypass challenges.

Additionally, defensive players use vision to mark and intercept opponent plays effectively.

Essentially, heightened visual awareness aids in rapid decision-making, facilitating better individual and team performances on the field.


Coach teaching youth soccer players how to dribble effectively by building their vision of the field.

In soccer, vision is paramount for adept dribbling.

It lets players see the entire field, anticipate defender movements, and make quick decisions.

  • Attacking players can spot openings and adjust to threats by constantly scanning the field. This foresight allows them to exploit spaces by dribbling or finding optimal passing routes. Recognizing defender positions helps players adapt their dribble or pass to bypass challenges.
  • Defensive players use vision to mark and intercept opponent plays effectively.

Essentially, heightened visual awareness aids in rapid decision-making, facilitating better individual and team performances on the field.


The belief in your ability to dribble past defenders!

Confidence is vital for being able to dribble a soccer ball. It represents a player’s steadfast belief in their skills to bypass defenders.

By understanding your ability to dribble a soccer ball you’ll encourage yourself to take more risks and try more bold maneuvers.

This self-assurance, reflected in body language and assertive decisions, can intimidate defenders, causing them to rethink their approach.

Confident players use their knowledge of ball control, footwork, and vision to act decisively rather than hesitating.

Acquiring this confidence demands consistent practice and real-game experience. In essence, confidence boosts ball control and affects on-the-spot decisions against defenders.

Continuous skill refinement and understanding of personal strengths can elevate a player’s dribbling speed prowess.

2. The Basics of How To Dribble a Soccer Ball

How To Dribble a Soccer Ball The Basics of How to Dribble A Soccer Ball

Dribbling in soccer hinges on mastering a few foundational skills. Central to these is ball control. 

Proper body positioning, with a slight lean forward and your foot atop the ball, ensures optimal control while moving.

This posture, coupled with your non-dribbling foot poised for direction changes, is essential.

Introducing feints, such as the stepover move, can confuse defenders, granting you an upper hand.

This move involves a foot stepping over the ball while the other pushes it sideways.

These foundational skills pave the way for advanced dribbling.

Soccer players should practice regularly, engage in game scenarios, and learn from instructional videos to excel.

Mastery of these basics equips players to outmaneuver opponents seamlessly.


Keep the ball close to your feet

Dribbling effectively in soccer hinges on maintaining proximity to the ball. This core technique ensures superior control and agility during play. 

  1. A gentle touch is critical, as heavy contact risks losing possession.
  2. Balanced weight distribution between both feet enhances stability, with the dominant foot pushing the ball and the other guiding it.precision dribbling.
  3. Leaning forward, bent knees and outstretched arms offer better balance and control.
  4. Proper foot placement atop the ball ensures directional precision.

To master this technique, consistent practice through drills and game scenarios is crucial.

Ultimately, keeping the ball close and agile movements and feints provides a distinct edge in matches.

Use Your Body to Shield the Ball From Defenders

Shielding the soccer ball from defenders is crucial for retaining possession while creating a barrier against the opposition. The key to this skill is good balance and positioning. 

As you dribble, position your body between the ball and the defender, leaning forward and using your arms, hips, and shoulders as protection.

This fundamental skill offers better control and impedes defenders from accessing the ball.

Swift directional changes while maintaining this shield regularly surprise and outmaneuver opponents.

Mastery of this tactic, including the comfortable use of both feet, significantly enhances dribbling prowess and overall game control.

Change Directions Quickly

Changing directions swiftly is vital for effective soccer dribbling.

Direction changes while running with speed allows players to dodge defenders and create strategic plays.

When shifting directions, players must prioritize the following:

  1. Keep the soccer ball close and maintain control.
  2. Gauge the defender’s position.
  3. Lower their center of gravity.
  4. Utilize a strong push-off to burst into the new direction.

Ambidextrous dribbling, or using both feet, adds an element of unpredictability, leaving defenders uncertain.

 Equally important is reading the game: scanning the field, anticipating opponents’ moves, and deciding the nature of the direction change, be it explosive or subtle.

Mastering this skill through practice will enhance adaptability in actual game situations.

Use Feint and Tricks to Deceive Defenders

In soccer, mastering feints and tricks is pivotal for dribbling past defenders.

These deceptive moves, like the fake shot or body feint, leave opponents baffled, creating opportunities for advancement.

 A fake shot lures defenders by mimicking a shot setup, while a body feint involves deceptive movements to mislead opponents.

Such techniques demand exceptional ball control, quick direction changes, and an understanding of the game’s dynamics.

With regular practice, these moves enhance a player’s dribbling prowess and add flair to their gameplay.

Effectively employing these tricks gives players a significant edge, increasing possession and goal-scoring chances.


3. Advanced Dribbling Techniques

Youth Soccer Player utilizing advanced soccer dribbling skills dodging a slide tackle

In soccer, advanced dribbling techniques allow players to demonstrate their creativity and control.

Techniques such as the two-footed dribble, which emphasizes using both feet, aid in swift direction changes.

In soccer, advanced dribbling techniques allow players to demonstrate their creativity and control.

Techniques such as the two-footed dribble, which emphasizes using both feet, aid in swift direction changes.

Another notable technique is the scissors move, where players rapidly cross their legs over the ball to mislead opponents.

Perfecting these skills demands regular practice, both individually and in match scenarios.

As players master these techniques, they bring excitement to the game, captivating opponents and spectators with their prowess.

The Two-Footed Dribbling

Using both feet in dribbling offers soccer players enhanced ball control and unpredictability. The two-footed dribble involves alternating between feet, confounding defenders and preventing them from predicting the player’s moves

  1. Effective execution requires agility and a grounded stance, allowing players to shift directions or accelerate swiftly.
  2. Keeping defenders off balance is vital by seamlessly switching between feet, adjusting pace, or swiftly changing direction.

Consistent practice, starting with straightforward drills and progressing to more complex ones, is key.

Your footwork needs to be precise and coordinated to avoid tripping or losing possession of the ball.

The Rainbow Flick

A trick move where you flick the ball over an opponent’s head.

The rainbow flick, also known as the “flip-flap” or “elastico,” is a dazzling trick move that can leave opponents stunned and create space for a successful dribble.

  1. To execute this move, start by positioning yourself in an athletic stance, with your knees slightly bent and your body balanced.
  2. As you approach an opponent, use the inside of your non-dribbling foot to tap the ball gently into the air, just enough to create space for the move.
  3. Next, swiftly bring your dribbling foot around the front of the ball and use the inside of that foot to flick it over your opponent’s head.

Pro Tip: The key here is to generate enough power and elevation with a quick snap of your ankle.

Timing is crucial for successfully beating an opponent with this move. Make sure to practice it repeatedly until you have mastered both the timing and execution.

As you flick the ball over your opponent’s head, keep your eyes focused on their movement so that you can anticipate their reaction once they realize what you’ve done.

It’s important to stay agile throughout this move by keeping your balance and being prepared to change direction immediately after completing it.

The Roullette

A trick move where you spin around the ball. The roulette is a mesmerizing trick move in soccer that allows players to swiftly change direction while maintaining control of the ball.

  1. To execute the roulette, a player starts by approaching the ball at a moderate pace with their dominant foot.
  2. As they near the ball, they plant their non-dominant foot firmly beside it and use it as an anchor.
  3. With a quick burst of agility, the player spins their body around in one swift motion, using their dominant foot to push the ball with the outside edge in a circular path around their anchored foot.
  4. As they spin, the player keeps their arms close to maintain balance and uses their head to keep track of nearby opponents or open spaces on the field.

The success of this move relies heavily on precise timing and coordination between various body parts.

The leg controlling the ball must brush past players attempting to intercept it while staying agile enough to react quickly if necessary.

The push from the dominant foot propels the ball away from opposing players and allows for an immediate change in direction once completed.

It is important for players to maintain control throughout this maneuver by keeping close proximity between themselves and the ball, ensuring that it stays within reach even as they spin around it.

The roulette can be used strategically in different directions depending on how opponents are positioned on the field.

It adds flair and unpredictability to one’s dribbling style, making it harder for defenders to anticipate movement and successfully tackle.

The Stepover

A trick move where you step over the ball to deceive an opponent. The stepover is a highly effective trick move that can leave opponents bewildered and create precious space for the dribbler.

  1. To execute the stepover, start by positioning yourself in an athletic stance, knees slightly bent, with the ball at your feet.
  2. As you approach an opponent, identify the ideal moment to execute this move based on their positioning and reaction.
  3. With one foot planted firmly next to the ball, quickly swing your other leg over it in a smooth motion, creating the illusion that you are about to change direction.
  4. This sudden shift of focus from you to the movement of your leg can often cause defenders to react by moving in the wrong direction or hesitating momentarily.
  5. To add further deception and confusion, lean forward slightly during this move as if you are about to accelerate in one direction.
  6. However, instead of following through with that movement, quickly place your foot back down beside the ball and continue dribbling in the original direction or switch to another direction entirely. The key here is to maintain control over your body while making it seem like an intentional feint.

This technique is particularly effective when performed at a moderate pace because it allows for more precision and control over each aspect of the stepover.

The stepover can be executed using either foot depending on which side presents a better opportunity for deception or escape from opponents.

If executed with your right foot stepping over towards your left side (across the front of your body), it can create space for a dribble into that area or potentially open up passing lanes behind defenders who have been momentarily pulled out of position.

Conversely, performing a stepover with your left foot stepping across towards your right side can have similar effects on opponents who may be anticipating a different angle from which you will dribble or pass.

The Scissors

A trick move where you cross your legs over the ball to deceive an opponent. The scissors move is a deceptive and effective trick that can leave opposing defenders puzzled and struggling to keep up.

  1. To execute this move, begin by approaching the defender with the soccer ball at a moderate pace using your dominant foot.
  2. As you get closer, quickly step over the ball with your non-dominant foot, crossing your legs over each other in a scissor-like motion.
  3. This sudden change in direction can catch defenders off-guard and create space for you to continue your dribble forward. When performing the scissors move, it is crucial to maintain balance and control over the soccer ball.

Keep your eyes focused on the ball while swiftly crossing your legs over it.

Your footwork needs to be precise and coordinated to avoid tripping or losing possession of the ball.

4. How to Practice Dribbling

How To Dribble a Soccer Ball How To Practice

Practicing how to dribble a soccer ball is crucial to enhance your skills on the soccer field. It sharpens your ball control, decision-making abilities, and agility.

There are various effective methods to practice dribbling that can help you become a more skillful player.

Dribbling Drills

Dribbling Against A Wall

Dribbling against a wall is an excellent method to improve your dribbling skills and enhance your ball control.

Find a suitable space to set up a wall, such as a concrete wall or sturdy fence.

Begin by standing just a few feet from the wall, ensuring enough room to kick the ball forward.

Controlling the ball like this in tight spaces requires maneuvering and controlling the soccer ball comfortably.

  • Start with gentle taps using various foot parts: inside, outside, and sole.
  • As comfort grows, increase tap speed while maintaining control on rebounds.
  • Ensure precise foot placement for accurate touches.
  • Maintain proper body positioning: knees slightly bent for balance and quick direction changes.
  • Body should face forward with feet directed at intended movement.
  • Prioritize good posture: head up and eyes forward, simulating game scenarios.
  • Integrate diverse dribbling techniques as proficiency increases.
  • Alternate between slow and fast taps to enhance precision and agility.
  • Watch instructional videos for a deeper grasp of wall dribbling techniques.

Dribble with cones or ladders

Youth Soccer Player Learning How To Dribble a Soccer Ball with Cones

Dribbling with cones or ladders is an excellent way to enhance your dribbling skills and improve your control over the soccer ball.

It provides a structured and controlled environment to practice various techniques while challenging yourself to maneuver around obstacles.

  • Set up cones/ladders in varied patterns to simulate match movements.

  • Enhance ball control, agility, and decision-making abilities.

  • Maintain an athletic stance for balance and agility.

  • Initially, use the dominant foot for precision.

  • Progress to using both feet to strengthen the weaker foot.

  • Vary dribbling speeds to mimic game situations.

  • Emphasize keeping eyes up and scanning ahead, not just on the ball.


Dribble with a partner

Two players practicing dribbling a soccer ball with a partner on a soccer field

Dribbling with a partner is an excellent way to enhance your dribbling skills, as it simulates game-like scenarios where you need to navigate past opponents.

To start, find a suitable space with enough room for you and your partner to maneuver comfortably.

  • Partnered dribbling drills simulate game scenarios, enhancing dribbling skills.

  • Begin in a spacious area, standing 10-15 feet apart in an athletic stance.

  • Assign roles: one as “defender,” the other as “attacker.”

  • Employ varied dribbling techniques, using both dominant and weaker foot.

  • Anticipate the defender’s movements and utilize feints or tricks for deception.

  • Maintain open communication for feedback and direction indication.

  • Incorporate sprints and sudden direction changes for realism.

  • Keep a low center of gravity for better balance and agility.

  • Engage the entire body for effective ball control.

Dribble in a game situation

How To Dribble a Soccer Ball Dribble In a Game Situation

When dribbling in a soccer game, it is essential to understand the various dribbling styles you can employ depending on the situation.

Pro Tip: Dribbling in a game situation requires technical ability, tactical awareness, and the ability to handle pressure.

When trying to beat an opponent one-on-one, players often opt for quick changes of direction and explosive bursts of speed.

How To Dribble A Soccer Ball: Summary

Obviously mastering how to dribble a soccer ball is vital.

Retaining possession and out playing defenders is the tricky part.

Ultimately your success comes down to how fast you can master your quick footwork, vision, and balance.

Because that is how you master the beautiful game of soccer and eventually become a pro soccer player.

 To recap the top skills are:

  • Ball Control
  • Quick Footwork
  • Vision
  • Confidence
  • Ball under your frame
  • Two footed dribbling
  • Roullete
  • Scissors
  • Rainbow Flicks
  • Adaptability
  • Body positioning
  • Practice with walls
  • Practice with partners

Now it’s your turn. Why not start making soccer history today?

Here’s a few more articles we’ve designed that you might find helpful.

And if you’re just starting out Nike asked soccer coaches what to do if you’re just starting out. Check out what they said!

Connor Callahan is a Youth Soccer Coach and Entrepreneur, best known for founding the highly successful Primal Keeper Academy and the soccer training program, Better Ball Control. He coaches at South Orlando Soccer Club and Boone High School. With over a decade of experience, Connor has a proven track record of leading hundreds of youth soccer players across competitive South Eastern Soccer Seasons and Tournaments like Nona Cup, Space Coast Clash, SOSC Labor Day Cup, and many more. His expert advise has been been viewed by hundreds of thousands of viewers on YouTube. Additionally, Connor’s soccer coaching strategies shared via social media platforms reach thousands of viewers annually.

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