Improving your first touch in soccer is crucial to becoming a better player. A first touch allows you to control the ball, create more space, and set yourself up for the next play.
A good first touch is so subtle but can be a big difference-maker among youth soccer players. A consistent first touch gives you the edge to get by defenders in a split second.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, there are several things you can do to improve your first touch.
In this article, you’ll learn how to improve your first touch in soccer.
To improve your first touch in soccer, it’s essential to focus on the fundamentals. Proper foot placement and body positioning are two critical elements to master.
Proper Foot Placement
When receiving the ball, you want to use the inside of your foot to control it. Place your foot slightly behind the ball and keep your ankle locked. This will help you cushion the ball and keep it close to your body.
It’s also important to pay attention to the direction of your touch. If you want to move the ball to your left, use your right foot to control it and vice versa. This will help you maintain possession and avoid losing the ball to the opposing team.
Body Positioning in Soccer
Your body positioning is just as important as your foot placement. When receiving the ball, you want to face the direction you want to play. Keep your knees bent and your weight forward to help you control the ball and maintain balance.
It’s also important to stay aware of your surroundings. Scan the field before receiving the ball, so you know where your teammates and opponents are. This will help you make quick decisions and avoid losing possession.
Soccer Drills to Improve First Touch
Improving your first touch in soccer requires consistent practice and dedication.
Incorporating drills into your training routine can help you develop better control and accuracy with the ball. Here are two drills that can help you improve your first touch.
Wall passes are a great way to practice receiving and controlling the ball with your first touch. To perform this drill, stand about 5-10 feet away from a wall and pass the ball against it using the inside of your foot.
As the ball rebounds back towards you, use your first touch to control it and pass it back against the wall with your other foot.
Repeat this drill for several minutes, alternating feet and increasing the speed and power of your passes as you become more comfortable.
Juggling a Soccer Ball
Juggling is another effective drill for improving your first touch.
Start by juggling the ball with your feet, thighs, and head, using only your first touch to keep the ball in the air. As you become more advanced, try incorporating different types of touches, such as controlling the ball with the outside of your foot or trapping it with your chest.
Set a goal for yourself and try to beat your personal best each time you practice.
Using a Soccer Rebounder
Similarly to the wall passes, you can use a rebounder for your backyard to pass and receive the ball in one motion.
Kick the ball at the rebounder and use your first touch to control it then pass it back against the rebounder.
As you get more advanced, use a first touch to control the ball then juggle it a couple more times before you kick it back.
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In game scenarios, you will be faced with different challenges that will help you improve your ball control and decision-making skills.
Here are two game situations that can help you improve your first touch:
One-on-one situations are great for improving your first touch because they force you to quickly control the ball and make a decision.
In this scenario, you are facing an opponent who is trying to take the ball away from you. Your objective is to control the ball and get past your opponent.
To improve your first touch in one-on-one situations, try the following:
- Use your body to shield the ball from your opponent
- Take a touch away from your opponent to create space
- Use body feints and fakes to confuse your opponent
- Practice with both feet to improve your weaker foot
Small-sided games (or Rondos) are great for improving your first touch because they simulate real game scenarios.
In these games, you will be playing with a small group of players, which means you will have more touches on the ball and more opportunities to practice your first touch.
To improve your first touch in small-sided games, try the following:
- Focus on controlling the ball quickly and accurately
- Use your first touch to create space and get away from defenders
- Communicate with your teammates to create passing opportunities
- Practice different types of passes, such as short passes, long passes, and through balls
- Always go to the ball then take your touch
By practicing in these game situations, you will improve your first touch and become a better soccer player. Remember to stay focused and practice regularly to see results.
Advanced Soccer Techniques
Flicks (Not Movies) & Chips (Not Potato)
To take your first touch to the next level, you can learn advanced techniques like flicks and chips.
These techniques require a lot of practice and skill, but they can help you surprise defenders and create scoring opportunities.
Flicks are quick touches that redirect the ball in a different direction. You can use flicks to get past defenders or to set up a shot. Here are some tips for practicing flicks:
- Start with simple flicks, like the outside-of-the-foot flick or the heel flick.
- Practice flicks with both feet.
- Use cones or other objects to create obstacles and practice flicking the ball around them.
- Try to flick the ball with different amounts of power and spin.
Chips are lofted touches that lift the ball over defenders or the goalkeeper. You can use chips to score from a distance or to set up a teammate. Here are some tips for practicing chips:
- Start with simple chips, like the inside-of-the-foot chip.
- Practice chips with both feet.
- Use small-sided games to practice lofting the ball over the defenders.
- Anticipate where your teammate is going or where the goalie is trying to get to.
- Try to chip the ball with different amounts of power and trajectory.
Trapping with Different Surfaces of the Foot & Body
As a soccer player, you should feel comfortable using various parts of your body to trap the ball and take that oh-so-important first touch.
Inside of the Foot
The inside of your foot is the most common surface used to trap the ball.
To trap the ball with the inside of your foot, place your foot next to the ball and let it roll onto your foot. Keep your foot firm and cushion the ball to stop it from bouncing away.
Outside of the Foot
The outside of your foot can be used to trap the ball when it’s coming from an angle.
To trap the ball with the outside of your foot, turn your foot slightly and let the ball roll onto the outside of your foot. Keep your foot firm and cushion the ball to stop it from bouncing away.
Your thigh can be used to trap the ball when it’s coming from the air.
To trap the ball with your thigh, lift your leg and let the ball hit your thigh. Cushion the ball with your thigh to stop it from bouncing away.
Your chest can be used to trap the ball when it’s coming from the air.
To trap the ball with your chest, position yourself under the ball and lean back slightly. Let the ball hit your chest and cushion it to stop it from bouncing away.
Your head can be used to trap the ball when it’s coming from the air.
To trap the ball with your head, position yourself under the ball and jump slightly. Let the ball hit your forehead and cushion it to stop it from bouncing away.
Improving your first touch in soccer is an essential skill that can help you become a better player. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you can develop a better first touch and improve your overall game.
It’s important to remember that improving your first touch takes time and practice. You won’t see results overnight, but with consistent effort, you can make significant progress over a season.
Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind:
- Practice with purpose: When you’re working on your first touch, make sure you’re doing it with intention. Focus on the specific areas you want to improve and use drills that will help you achieve those goals.
- Use both feet: Developing a strong first touch with both feet is crucial for success in soccer. Make sure you’re practicing with your weaker foot as well as your dominant foot.
- Keep it simple: Don’t try to be too fancy with your first touch. In most situations, a simple, controlled touch is all you need to maintain possession and create opportunities.
- Always be scanning: When receiving the ball, always be aware of your surroundings. Know where your teammates and opponents are, and be prepared to make quick decisions based on that information.
Remember, improving your first touch is just one aspect of becoming a better soccer player.
Keep working hard, stay focused, and you’ll see improvement in all areas of your game. Time to grind!