5 football dribbling moves all players should know

by Pablo M15th Mar 2019

You only need to master a few simple skills to protect the ball and open opportunities for your team. This post discusses 5 popular football dribbling moves that you should master. We ordered this list from easiest to hardest to execute.

The inside cut

This move is also often called the chop. It is a simple technique, you simply move the ball in front of your standing foot to the other side. The key is in your timing. This is the progression:

  • Push the ball a little bit ahead of you as if you’re going to shoot the ball. Sell the move.
  • Touch the ball with the inside of your foot towards your standing foot.
  • Turn your body in the direction of the ball.
  • Accelerate away.

This football dribbling move is especially effective when a defender is running by your side. As you fake the shot, the defender will move ahead of you to block the shot, then you push the ball to your side behind the defenders back. The trick is to not hit the ball too far ahead or too short. If you push it too far away, the defender will claim the ball. If you push it too short, it will be difficult to cut the ball across your side and the defender will be standing in your way.

Have a look at this video for step by step instructions.

The outside cut

As its name implies, it is similar to the inside cut but using the outside of your foot. It is also a great move to turn directions quickly. Make it look like you’re going forward in one direction and quickly chop the ball out into another direction. The mechanics of this technique are simple:

  • Run forward with the ball.
  • Touch the ball with the outside of your foot to move sideways or backwards. If you are carrying the ball in your right foot, you will move sideways to the right and vice versa.
  • Turn your body in the direction of the ball.
  • Accelerate away.

At speed this move is magic. If you have a defender running beside you on the opposite side you are carrying the ball, you can cut it out and move away from the defender. Because you have the defender on the opposite side, you’re shielding the ball as you move. The only way they can take it from you is if they foul you.

The video below illustrates this football dribbling move. Note how in the drill this move is practised with both feet.

The drag back

This football dribbling move requires practice but it is very simple. Run at speed in one direction towards a defender, step on the ball, drag it back and turn into the opposite direction. The steps for this football move are:

  • Run with the ball in one direction.
  • Stop and drag the ball with the sole of your foot.
  • Turn around in the opposite direction you were running.
  • Shield the ball with your body
  • Push the ball away with the outside of your foot.
  • Accelerate away

The drag back is to be used at speed. If you’re just standing and drag the ball, the defender will read the move and challenge the ball. But at full speed, you will be able to fool defenders many times by using the defender momentum against them.

A variation of the drag back is the 3 touches drag back. The steps are the same, but soon after you drag the ball with the sole of your foot, you push the ball behind your standing foot with the inside of your foot. Then you push the ball away with the outside of your standing foot. This skill requires better coordination and plenty of practice. Yet, it provides additional protection to the ball since your standing leg is shielding it. You can also run away into a side instead of straight back. Have a look at the video below to get the picture.

La croqueta

This football move looks like two little kicks with the inside of your feet. You’re just exchanging the ball from one side of the body to the other to get around your opponent. The first sideways move should be done as an inside scoop with the flat part of the instep. The second touch is to move forward past the defender. This move is not as simple as it looks and requires good timing. This is the breakdown:

  • Drag the ball from one foot to the other using the inside of your foot.
  • Do a small jump or stretch in the direction the ball moves.
  • Make sure the opposite foot is past the ball to stop it.
  • With the instep give a quick tap to the ball to move it forward.
  • Accelerate away.

Although this football move looks simple, it’s not that easy to pull it off in a match. You want to make this skill second nature. So, start on your own by dragging the ball from foot to foot using the inside of your feet until the move is wired in your brain. Do a little jump from side to side as you move the ball. Once you feel good about it, find an obstacle to simulate passing a defender.

Michael Laudrup and Andres Iniesta are said to be the kings of this technique, have a look at the first video below. The second video is a great tutorial on how to learn this move.

The Cruyff

As its name implies, this move was the trademark of Johan Cruyff. The Cruyff turn is a fake pass or shot combined with a push behind the leg. It is a similar move to the 3 touches drag back:

  • Approach the ball as if you are going to pass or shoot
  • Place your standing foot slightly in front of the ball allowing space for you to push the ball behind your leg.
  • Fake a shot or cross.
  • Use the inside of your dominant foot to quickly push the ball behind your standing leg.
  • Turn your body around.

The Cruyff turn is especially useful in situations where the defender is marking you closely. For example, when defenders move to block your shot or pass, they leave space for you to move in the other direction. Bringing the ball behind your leg protects it from defenders allowing you to safely move the other way.

The first video below shows actual footage of Johan Cruyff. The second video illustrates this football dribbling technique step by step.