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If you want to succeed as a soccer player, you need to do drills to improve your soccer dribbling until it becomes second nature. It’s a skill that many players try to skip past, but the truth is, is that the best soccer training equipment or any of the available training products for this game will mean much of nothing if you don't hone in your skills of the basics first. Any attempt to jump ahead to the “fun stuff” will end up hurting you in a major way in the long run.
The good news is that there are plenty of drills you can do to improve your dribbling skills, and prepare you for your next big game. These diverse drills will keep things interesting as you perfect your technique and learn to dribble like a pro.
We’ll start our list off with the most fundamental of all soccer dribbling drills. All you need to do is set up a line of cones with about three feet between each cone. You then want to run down the line, kicking the ball in between each set of cones.
While it’s tempting to focus solely on going as quickly as possible, you should actually be trying to improve your control of the ball. Try and see how many times you can touch the ball while getting down the line without hitting the cones.
Wide Cone Dribbling
This is a variation on your basic line dribbling. You start by setting the cones up like you would for line dribbling and then move every other cone a few feet to the left or right to create a second, parallel line of cones. You then have to run back and forth along the cones.
This variation forces you to quickly and accurately change directions while covering a longer distance overall. It really teaches you how to zig and zag up a field with a combination of speed and precision.
Learn to maneuver the ball in tight areas by setting up three cones in a line or triangular formation, with two feet or less between each cone. Once the cones are set up, you simply need to kick the ball between the different cones, without hitting them, using each and every part of your foot. Try picking one or two surfaces and practice with them until you feel confident, and then move on to different surfaces.
This dribbling exercise is all about learning to move the ball with precision and develop close control under the most difficult circumstances. Imagine that the cones are the legs of your opponents, and if you allow the ball to touch one of them, you’ll lose it.
If you want to focus on your speed, this is the drill for you. You set up two lines of parallel cones, with each pair of cones placed quite a distance from the last. This creates a series of “gates” set up in a straight line. Your goal is to go through each pair of cones dribbling as quickly as possible without accidentally bumping into a cone.
This drill might seem a little simplistic, but that doesn’t mean it has to be easy. Place the cones closer together to increase the difficulty. It requires a great deal of precision to kick the ball cleanly between closely placed gates at high speeds.
Gate Obstacle Course
In this dribbling exercise, you set up at four or more pairs of cones up on the field in an irregular pattern, where you can’t run directly from one to the next. You then run from one gate to the next, kicking with one foot at a time and switching between feet as you move between each gate.
You can increase the difficulty of this training session by moving the gates around or changing up your pattern so that it’s harder to move from one gate to the next. The name of the game is learning how to change directions quickly without losing too much momentum, forcing you to improve your ball control.
Simulate going one-on-one during a game by setting up two cones at least 10 feet away from one another and putting a tightly packed line of cones in the middle. You want to start by dribbling like you’re going straight from one cone to the next, through the line in the middle, but then quickly cutting to the left or right at the last second to avoid the obstacle cones.
This is a fun and deceptively challenging drill that will help you prepare to beat a defender in a one-on-one situation, hence the name.
Catch Me If You Can
This drill requires a partner, but it’s well worth the effort required to find someone to train with. All you need is two balls and four cones that are set in a square formation. The players stand kitty-corner, by opposing cones, with their balls, and then start dribbling as fast as they can around the cones, trying to catch one another.
If you have a third person to act as a coach, you can take this drill to the next level by having the coach shout orders for the players to stop and switch directions, which will help to develop even greater control over the ball. You can also set up a device to play music and switch directions with every song.
Set up two circles of cones and then try and dribble in a figure eight pattern around the cones as quickly as possible. You can either dribble around the outside of the cones as quickly as possible if you’re focused on speed, or weave in and out of the cones to put more of an emphasis on control.
You can also do a variation of this drill where you only use your left foot when turning towards the left and only use the right when turning towards the right. You’ll find that you switch directions when you move from one circle to the other. This approach makes sure that the player dribbles with both feet equally over the course of the drill.
This partner drill is also one of the most creative training techniques out there to improve your game. One partner tries to dribble forward while the other places cones down in front of them as they go along. This means that the person dribbling doesn’t know what formation the cones will end up in and will have to make split-second choices to get through the course without tripping up. It’s also fun to be the one dropping the cones and trying to catch your partner off guard.
This is another partner drill that can be a fun way to practice how to beat a defender on the offense, and steal the ball as a defender. You want to create a box of cones with each cone standing 10-15 feet away from the other. One player stands with the ball in the center of the box and starts dribbling while the other player tries to take the ball from them. Once the ball is stolen, the player who took the ball needs to try and control it themselves, while the first player tries to steal the ball back.
This keep-away variation is one of the most fun drills to improve your soccer dribbling because it feels very similar to the moment-to-moment action of actually playing a soccer game.