10 drills to improve ball control
by Pablo M22nd Mar 2019
Ball control is the most important skill in football, even if you play a defensive role. This post goes over a variety of drills to develop your ball control and get comfortable using all surface areas of your foot.
All you will do in this exercise is move that ball between your feet using the inside of your feet. Keep your hips over the ball and move the ball from side to side between your feet.
Once you have done this 50 times, move around still passing the ball between your feet. Then, add a little bit of movement: move forwards, move backwards, move side to side and even spin.
This exercise may not feel like much, but it is the basis of more complex moves. For example, look at this video of Michael Laudrup and Andres Iniesta executing “la croqueta” at a professional level.
Inside-outside ball control
In this drill, we will combine the outside of your foot with the inside of your foot. This exercise is very effective to manipulate that ball from side to side and makes your dribbling more unpredictable.
Use one foot at a time and then incorporate both feet. Start like in the previous exercise, moving the ball with the inside of one foot towards the other foot, but instead of bringing it back with the other foot, use the outside of the same foot you started. Again, use very small touches from side to side, manipulating that ball backwards and forth.
Once you get more confident, move around a little bit. When you are happy with your ball control with one foot, repeat with the other foot.
As you get comfortable using both feet, mix it up, go from side to side using the inside and outside of your feet.
Another surface area that is often used in the game is the sole. It is used for dribbling and for controlling and holding the ball. The sole is used more than you think. So you want to get comfortable using it as well.
Put one foot on top of the ball and roll it to your other foot. Do the same thing back to the other foot. When you get comfortable doing this, you want to get in a rhythm to almost hop in between. You are rolling it back and forth. Try to look up when you’re doing it. You don’t want to be looking at the ball. When you feel ready, move forwards and backwards.
Rollover with tick tock
For this exercise, we combine the two previous moves. First, roll with one foot to one side, and then do two quick inside touches between your feet. Then roll in the other direction and again two quick touches. Keep repeating until you get a rhythm: roll, tap-tap, roll, tap-tap.
This is an excellent exercise for working foot coordination.
We can start incorporating some stepovers into our moves. The stepover is one of the most used skill moves in a game. You throw your foot around the ball, faking like you’re going to push the ball around one direction, drop your shoulder the same direction but then go the other way.
For this exercise, all you will do is a quick touch with the outside of your foot, step around the ball, get low with your standing leg and then push away with the opposite foot in the opposite direction.
Use a light touch with the outside of your foot before stepping over. You don’t want the ball to go too far. When you do the step around the ball, make sure your foot comes around the front of the ball to protect it. You also want to drop your shoulder a little bit because you want to trick the defender into thinking you go into one side but then go in the opposite direction.
Rollover with stepover
We can combine the rollover with a stepover. First, roll the ball with one foot at an angle in front of you, and then step over the ball with your opposite foot. Then, with that same foot that you stepped over, roll the ball and start the progression again but in the opposite direction. Keep repeating until you get in a nice rhythm.
This exercise may take a little bit of practice, but it is another good drill for foot coordination.
The video below shows the move, but instead of starting over, the player pushes the ball out with the foot they completed the stepover. Instead of pushing out, roll back in the opposite direction.
Put a foot on the ball and drag it back towards yourself at an angle. When the ball is close to your body, push it out with the inside of the same foot. Then you stop and drag the ball back with your other foot.
It is a great exercise to get comfortable on the ball. This is a simple but effective skill used when pressured from the side to cut back and change direction.
Drag back behind standing leg
It is very like the V-cut, but instead of pushing the ball to the same side, we do it to the opposite side behind your standing leg. So first, drag the ball back behind your leg and, with the same foot, knock it in front of your opposite foot. Then drag it with the opposite foot and repeat in the other direction.
Like the V-cut, you can use this move in a match. If a defender is coming from a side, drag it behind you and push it away past them. Both V-cut movements should be done at speed to create an element of surprise.
Drag back behind the leg from the opposite side
This drill requires more coordination. Have the ball beside your standing/weaker foot and put your dominant foot on top of the ball. Your dominant leg should be crossed in front of your standing leg. Drag the ball behind your standing leg on the outside of your body. Then collect the ball with your dominant foot by crossing the leg behind your standing leg. With the same foot, give it a knock in front of you. Then repeat the exercise but from the opposite side with the opposite foot.
Minute 7:42 of the video below shows how to execute this drill.
Combining three moves
Make sure you work through the previous drills before attempting this last exercise. Master number one before you master number two and so on. If you master all these moves, you will improve your ball control with a little bit of practice. It will help you improve your dribbling and make you more confident when the ball is at your feet.
So, the final exercise is the most complicated of the set. Combine three moves in this order: a drag back, a sole roll back and tick-tock and repeat. Minute 8:57 of the video below shows how combining these moves looks.