Got Football World Cup fever? Decided it’s time to step up to the mark and improve your game? You need to learn to juggle a soccer ball.
Juggling a soccer ball is a training exercise that has a number of benefits that translate directly into improved performance on the field.
- Improved eye/limb coordination.
- Improved mental focus.
- Greater ball control.
- Reinforced muscle-memory benefiting first touch on the ball and your ability to receive the ball.
- Motor skill fine tuning.
- Better feel for ball response.
Learning the Technique
Learning to juggle a soccer ball is a matter of progressing through a series of stages, each more advanced than the one before. The secret is to take it a step at a time and to be patient. It can be a little frustrating at first when the ball goes flying out of your reach or you miss a kick, but a little regular practice will enable you to master the technique in a week or two.
Deflate your soccer ball just a little. This will slow its bounce and make it easier to control in the early stages of juggling. Once you’ve mastered the technique, though, you should practice with a fully inflated ball.
Practice your juggling on a hard, flat surface to keep bounce and direction consistent.
Take a moment to visualise your lower body. Are your knees slightly bent? Do your hips feel strong and aligned? Are you centred? Relax…
Juggling can look flashy and impressive, but its aim is control. Throughout your practice remember what it is you are really trying to achieve.
Your First Juggles
- Hold the ball straight out in front of you, level with the centre of your chest.
- Drop the ball and let it bounce once.
- As the ball begins to descend after this bounce kick it up into the air with your dominant foot so that it rises to chest height. Point your toes up slightly as you kick and aim to hit the ball with your boot laces.
- Catch the ball.
- Repeat this procedure until you can consistently get the ball back to chest height and catch it without having to lunge or lean for it.
- Do the same with your other foot.
Improving Your Juggling
When you’ve mastered the stage above, improve your juggling skills by dropping the ball, letting it bounce, kicking it up to chest height, letting it fall (but not bounce) and kicking it up again. You’re doing a two-kick juggle and by the time you’ve mastered this you’ll be feeling pretty good about your ball control skills.
Keep pushing yourself to greater skill levels by steadily increasing the number of kicks you make before catching the ball. When you can do two, move on to three. When you can do three, move on to four etc.
When you have a reasonable measure of control you can progress still further by kicking with alternate feet before catching. Drop the ball, let it bounce, kick it up with your right foot, let it fall, kick it up with your left foot, catch the ball. This technique really tests and improves your balance, eye tracking, coordination and peripheral awareness.
More than Feet?
You can involve more than your feet in soccer ball juggling. As the ball falls from one of your kicks knock it up with your thigh. Use the meaty, mid-part on the top of your thigh. If you use your knee the ball will bounce more violently and may move out of range of your next kick.
Discipline Brings Rewards
The whole idea of soccer ball juggling is to improve your ball skills. Practicing anything requires a measure of strictness and discipline – juggling is no different.
You should aim to juggle the ball without moving backwards or forwards, or side to side more than a metre or two. If you find you are chasing the ball along the length of the pitch, you haven’t mastered the technique. It’s better to do a few kicks in one spot than to do multiple kicks over a stretch of ground.
You’ll get a whole lot more out of your practice if you set yourself patterns of kicks, alternating feet combinations, thigh/foot combinations etc. before you start your practice. By doing this you’re giving yourself a sequence to follow and the demands on your mind and body will be correspondingly greater. But so will your progress. Happy soccer ball juggling!
To learn more about juggling a soccer ball check out this video.How to Juggle a Soccer Ball,