First touch drills to improve your game

by Pablo M04th Jul 2019

A good first touch helps you and your team to keep control of the ball. There is nothing more frustrating for a team than a player that constantly loses the ball because it bounces a metre or more away from them. You don’t want to be that player, regardless of the position your play. In this post we will go over five first touch drills to include in your training sessions. All you need is a set of cones, a ball and a partner.

One x One box

Create a one by one metre box by placing four cones on the ground with a partner about five meters away from you. Your partner will kick a decently weighted pass on the ground and you will attempt to control the ball inside of the square using only one touch. Once you do so, pass the ball back to your partner and repeat. To make the drill harder or easier have your partner adjust the weight of their pass

This is a great drill for working on basic fundamentals on controlling a pass perfectly each time. It might look very easy and mundane but this drill is consistently done by professional football players. The difference is that professionals focus on making the perfectly weighted touch every single time and challenge themselves to strive for absolute perfection.

The Octagon

Place eight cones on the ground to create an octagon of about five metres in diameter. Have your partner about five to ten metres in front of you with a ball. Your partner will kick a pass on the ground and you will take a touch through the front two cones and pass the ball back. Immediately after the pass return to the centre of the octagon and have your partner pass the ball again. This time you will take a touch through the next set of cones and pass the ball back. Repeat this pattern either clockwise or counterclockwise until you’ve gone through each set of cones around the octagon.

This drill is realistic and sharp. This drills works on taking your first touch through small spaces. If you can consistently have a great first touch, you will free up time and space for yourself in an actual game.

The Three Cone High Step

There are many variations of this drill. We will focus on a one touch pass on the ground, two touches pass on the ground, a one touch pass in the air, and two touches pass in the air. Feel free to do any variations that you like. Add one or two touches in the air with your laces, thighs, chest, head, etc. Get creative in this drill.

Place three cones in a line with about one foot of space in between them. Have two partners about three to five meters away from you on either side of the line of cones. This drill can also be done with a single partner if they move side to side along with you.

You will laterally high step through the cones until both feet are outside of the last cone. Your partner will then pass the ball on the ground or in the air and you will either hit a pass first time back to them or take two touches. Use your right foot on the right side and your left foot on the left side. Focus on hitting a perfect pass back to your partner’s foot or back to your partner’s hands every single time.

This drill is great for working on fast feet while also working to fine-tune your touch and control when your legs start to get tired and heavy. This is another staple drill done by professionals.

Man-on drill

This drill is best done with a defender on your back and a partner to pass you the ball. However, if you’re alone you can pretend that there is a defender on your back and feed a pass to yourself by using a wall. You can do the same with many of these first touch drills.

Stand about 15 to 20 metres away from your partner with a defender behind you. On go, step into your defender, push off slightly and move towards the ball. The defender follows you tightly rushing to your left or your right side as you move towards the ball. Your teammate will feed you the pass on the ground and yell instructions like man-on, turn left, right or some other agreed-upon terminology. You will listen for the command and react accordingly. The defender should apply high pressure on you without tackling the ball.

This is a great drill that replicates game realistic first touches turns and control under pressure.

Long ball trap

Create a five by ten metres rectangle at about 18 to 25 metres away from goal. Have a partner standing wide on the end line with balls at their feet. Have your partner kick a long pass into the box. You will then try to control the ball with as few touches as possible and shoot to goal. Alternate between left and right foot to trap and shoot the ball.

This drill aims to work control of long range and difficult passes. It also focuses on quickly transitioning to a shot or a pass after the first touch. Challenge yourself to make it more game realistic. Pretend you only have a very short amount of time to get a shot before you’re closed down by imaginary defenders.

For more clarity on how these first touch drills work, have a look at Matt’s demonstration below.

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