Oregon Youth Soccer • June 2015
3 Simple Activities to Keep Your Game In Shape This Summer
In between trips to the pool and family vacations by the lake, summer offers the best time of the year for working on improving the basic individual skills that make a good soccer player great! Here are a few easy activities you can do by yourself this summer to help wow your friends and teammates with your skills when practice starts this fall:
1. Juggling (Courtesy Soccer-Training-Info.com)
Juggling helps you develop a good feel for the ball, improves your ability to strike the ball on the volley, and helps you become more accustomed to using all the different surfaces of your feet. A good juggler is more creative and can use all parts of their feet when playing in a real game.
Start by dropping the ball down to your feet and kicking the ball back up to your hands. Then do two juggles with your feet before sending it back up to the hands. Then do three, and then four. Then, try alternating from your right foot to your left. As you go along, it will become easier and easier and you'll gain control of the ball and make the ball do what you want it to do. The main goal is to be able to juggle back and forth from your right foot to your left. Have fun with the ball as you grow accustomed to using all the different surfaces of your feet as well as other parts of your body to control the ball (e.g. foot to head to thigh, back to foot to head again).
Make up various cycles that you have to go through, choosing where the ball goes, and not just keeping the ball up in the air in a desperate effort, but manipulating the ball on your terms. It’s not about how many times you can juggle, but making the ball go where you want it to. It's about being in control of the ball.
2. Wall Passing
In addition to ball control, the ability to pass and receive quickly and accurately is key to the success of any soccer player or team. To work on your passing and receiving skills on your own, find a wall with a flat surface in front of it (garage door, side of a building, inside a gymnasium, etc.).
Pass the ball against the wall using the inside of the foot, the outside and the instep. Set a goal for yourself either to complete a certain number of passes in a minute, or a certain number of consecutive touches without losing control.
As you improve, increase your goals. You can also challenge yourself by making a rule that you have to alternate feet, or by changing your distance and angle to the wall in order to work on receiving balls at various speeds and on the run.
Once you are comfortable passing and receiving with the various surfaces of your feet, try catching and turning 180 degrees, then shooting in the opposite direction; or, try one-touching the ball 90 degrees to the left or right, in order to work on the kinds of one-touch wall passes that will be useful in a game.
If you do the above drills and exercises regularly and often and challenge yourself to improve every time, you will be able to make and receive passes without having to think too hard about them and be able to concentrate on other aspects of the game.
Simply dribbling around cones can be a great way work on both your fitness and ball control. Set up four cones (or any other similar marker) in a square, with a fifth at the center. Dribble from one corner to the middle, around the center cone, and then to another corner. Repeat this pattern over and over, working on using both feet, as well as the inside and outside of your foot to go around the cones.
As you become more confident, increase your speed. You can also change the size or structure of the grid to increase touches on the ball, or work on taking the ball in different directions.
Working on these basic skills on your own can have a significant impact on your game this season!