This section of SoccerHelp is written as if speaking to the player.
- While waiting to receive a pass, keep your knees slightly bent and stay on the "balls" of your feet so you are ready to quickly move to either side. (If you raise your heels off the ground about 1/2", you are on the "balls" of your feet). You may want to "bounce" from one foot to the other. Be ready to move in any direction. When the ball is kicked, quickly notice its direction (is it going to your left or right or straight at you?) and move toward the ball. Stop the ball in front of you or to the left or right depending on where your imaginary opponent is. If an opponent isn't close by, stop the ball so it comes to rest one step away from you (and in the direction you want to go) so you can quickly step up to the ball and pass or shoot it. But, if an opponent is close, you may want to stop the ball at your feet or you may want to block the ball so it rolls away from your opponent into an open area so you can have "time and space" to dribble or pass.
- For consistency, get used to stopping the ball with the inside of your foot. (This is the safest and easiest way to stop it). Start by putting the inside of the foot receiving the ball even with the toes of your "plant" foot (i.e., your non-receiving foot) and about 5" off the ground. (Do not put your receiving foot flat on the ground or the ball will hit it and bounce away.) Pull your toes up so your toes and the heel of your receiving foot are about the same distance off the ground and let the ball hit your arch or toward the back of your foot, not your toes. (It's easier for a bad bounce to hop over your toes.) Estimate how hard the pass is and relax or tense your foot so the ball stops where you want it to. (If it's a hard pass, pretend the ball is an egg that you don't want to break and pull your foot back on contact to absorb the impact). If you want to stop the ball to your left or right, you must angle your foot & contact the ball more in front of you or behind, depending on whether you want it to go left or right.
- Anticipate the direction of the ball and start moving as soon as you can tell whether it is going left or right or straight at you. Do not just stand still and stretch your leg out to the side to stop the ball. Depending on where your opponents are, you may want to move toward the passer to intercept the ball early or you may want to let the ball roll by you while you run beside it or behind it and shield it from your opponent. Remember: You must stop the ball & then control it.
- Practice the following with both your right foot and your left foot: (a) Practice 2-touch (which means you stop the ball and then pass it so that you have touched it 2 or more times) and 1-touch (which means you pass the ball back without stopping it so that you have only touched it once). Pass quickly & accurately. (b) See how hard a pass you can receive and still control the ball. (c) Angle your left foot so that when you receive the ball with your left foot the ball bounces to your right foot and then pass the ball with your right foot (try for one continuous motion). (d) Block the ball so it stops 2 or 3 steps to your right or left & then pass it.
- Note: If you are closely marked, it may be better for you to be "sideways" to receive the ball & to receive it with the outside of your foot so you can better shield the ball and keep it farthest from the defender; also, if a defender is nearby you should move toward the ball to receive it.
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