Soccer dribbling games and how to dribble and shield a soccer ball. Dribbling is perhaps the most important soccer skill. The best way to teach soccer dribbling is to play SoccerHelp's "Dribble Across A Square" game 3 times to start each practice (it is also a good warm-up). This will let you monitor each player's dribbling progress. It is the single best game you can play. If you do this, every player's soccer dribbling will improve significantly and the more athletic players will develop outstanding dribbling skills and exceptional "field vision" and "field awareness". You will see dramatic improvement after 4 or 5 practices. Following are links to the SoccerHelp Basic versions of two of our 4 Star rated soccer practice games. The "Dribble Across A Square" and "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" games were invented by us and are copyrighted and exclusive to SoccerHelp.
Being able to dribble and shield the ball is perhaps the most important soccer skill. Your players will have a lot more confidence and will play with more enthusiasm if they know they can dribble and protect the ball. It is very difficult to play soccer if you can't dribble and shield the ball. For young players there is probably nothing more important to practice than dribbling. (See "Most Important Things To Teach, Revised").
The best way to teach dribbling is to play SoccerHelp's "Dribble Across A Square Practice Game" (Premium version) 3 times to start each practice and ask each player his or her score at the end of each game. This will let you monitor each player's progress. This is the single best game you can play. If you do this, every player's dribbling will significantly improve and the more athletic players will develop outstanding dribbling skills and exceptional "field vision" and "field awareness" (i.e., awareness of where other players are). We're not sure exactly why this happens, but believe it is due to practicing with so much activity around them.
It isn't the most fun game, and your players may complain a little, but it is worth it. As your players see that the game is causing them to improve, they won't complain about it. You will see dramatic improvement after 4 or 5 practices. One of the great things about the "Dribble Across A Square Game" is that it is "self-teaching" and playing the game teaches players how to "control dribble", "speed dribble", "shield the ball" and turn with the ball.
Benefits Of The "Dribble Across A Square Practice Game (Premium Version)":
It is the best way to teach dribbling.
It is 50 times better than dribbling through cones.
It is a good warm-up.
It is quick and easy for one coach to set up and manage the game.
It is a great way to evaluate dribbling skill.
Based on the results we have had, we believe playing this game helps children's brains learn to process a lot of activity, that it teaches them to use peripheral vision, and that it teaches them to make correct, instinctive decisions and maintain composure when under pressure and in heavy traffic. In addition to improved dribbling skill, we have noticed significant improvement in "field vision" and "field awareness".
You can monitor each player's progress by asking each player his or her score at the end of each game.
Playing the game teaches "Control Dribbling", "Speed Dribbling" ("Running With the Ball"), shielding the ball, to look up while dribbling and the Premium Version teaches 4 types of turns (how to do a "Pullback", aka a "Drag Back", a "Stop/Turn", a "Cutback" and a "Hook Turn"). It is a "self-teaching" game and playing the game teaches these skills.
The Premium Version of the game has a link to photos of how to perform the turns.
Monitoring Progress. A player gets one point each time he or she turns. Have the first player to reach the target score (e.g., 12 or 10) yell "Done". As soon as a player yells "Done", blow your whistle and have all the other players stop as soon as they get back to the closest side of the square. Then, ask each player his or her score so you can monitor each player's progress. What I would do is start with one player and ask: "John, what was your score?" and then quickly ask each of the others. It is also an opportunity to praise anyone who has improved or to give tips such as "It is very important to keep control of the ball on your turns. If you lose the ball it will cost you several points". This only takes 2 or 3 minutes.
Remember to praise each player's improvement. For Recreational teams, we suggest not comparing players to each other, but judging each player's progress based on his or her individual improvement (it really isn't fair to compare unathletic players to athletic players). In our experience, praise is more motivating than criticism.
The "Dribble Across A Square Game" is a copyrighted SoccerHelp exclusive. It was created by us and is available only on SoccerHelp and SoccerHelp Premium.
Other SoccerHelp and Premium Practice Games That Teach Dribbling and Footwork Include:
For All Ages on SoccerHelp and Premium: "Tick Tock"
For All Ages on Premium: "Across & Back Ball Tag", "Attack & Defend Ball Tag", "Double Dare Attack/Defend", "Dribble & Tag/Reverse", "Dribble Around A Cone & Back Relay Race", "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race", "Dribble Past Defender", "Dribble, Turn & Shoot Race", "Follow The Leader", "Race Around The Track" and "Sharks and Minnows"
For U-6 on Premium: "Animal Soccer", "Hit The Coach", "Monster Invasion", "Pick Up The Cones Race", "Red Rover Game", "Soccer Bees" and "Treasure Hunt"
For U-6 to U-10 on SoccerHelp and Premium: "Driving School"
For U-6 to U-10 on Premium: "Dribble Through Goals Race" and "Tag Pairs"
For U-8 & up on SoccerHelp and Premium: "Circle & Outside-Of-Foot Push" and "2 Team Keep Away"
For U-8 & up on Premium: "Ball Thieves & Ball Protectors Game", "Dribble Past Defenders No. 2", "Outside & Bottom of Foot Game", "Outside-of-Foot Reverse", "Pullbacks/Backward Race", "Push & Blast Off", "Relay Race On 3-Cone Course", "Side Roll Race" and "Tap-On-Top Race"
For U-9 & up on SoccerHelp & Premium: "Steparounds"
A New Practice Game For U-8 and Older. Following is a new SoccerHelp Practice Game that teaches dribbling and footwork.
Summary: Players simultaneously race around 2 cones in a "Figure 8" pattern using only the inside and outside of one foot (so they turn around one cone using the outside of the foot and around the other cone using the inside of the same foot). The first to complete 5 trips around the cones and back to the start is the winner. Allow them to use the bottom of the foot to stop the ball. Then, play again with everyone using only the other foot. Play 4 games (2 with each foot). Play this Game occasionally to teach this skill, not every practice.
Why play this Practice Game? If you watch a lot of soccer, as we do, you will notice that good players can control the ball using the inside and outside of the same foot. Being able to do so is very useful in dribbling and shielding the ball. In fact, George Best, one of the greatest dribblers to ever play soccer, used only his right foot to dribble a great deal of the time (even when playing on the left side of the field), and on one of his most famous goals (for San Jose in 1980) he dribbled thru 5 defenders using only the inside and outside of his right foot to control the ball (we have it on tape). We believe the best way to teach dribbling is to play Practice Games that require players to try using various dribbling styles at young ages so each player can develop the style that works the best for him or her. This Game forces players to use both the inside and outside of the same foot to control the ball. We believe this is an important skill to teach and to occasionally practice.
Teaches: Using the inside and outside of the same foot to dribble and turn.
Set-up: You will need 2 disk cones (or cloth markers) per player, or if you don't have enough cones split your players into 2 groups and let one group play while the other watches. Use disk cones to make 2 rows (like shown below), putting the cones opposite each other 3 or 4 steps apart (depending on age) and place the cones in each row also 3 or 4 steps apart so players will have enough room to turn around the cones without running into each other. Players will all start behind a cone and dribble around the opposite cone in a "Figure 8" pattern. The set-up is shown below:
Each player has a ball.
The players all start by standing behind a cone in the same row (as shown in the diagram above).
Players must only use one foot to dribble the ball. Show them how they can use the inside and outside of their foot to control the ball and make turns. (Go to Premium, to "Soccer Moves, Dribbling and Footwork", number 1 "Cuts" and "Cutbacks/Hook Turns" for a description of how to make "Cuts" and "Hook Turns"). Show them how they can use a "Hook Turn" to turn around the cone. Demonstrate how to dribble around the cones in a Figure 8 pattern (so they turn around one cone using the outside of the foot and around the other cone using the inside of the same foot). Allow players to use the bottom of their foot to help control the ball if they need to.
Let the players all practice for a minute while you watch to be sure they understand what to do.
Tell them to use their preferred foot to dribble in the first game. This is so they are all competing using their strongest foot in the first game and their weaker foot in the second game. (Otherwise, it won't be as competitive).
On "Go" the players dribble in a "Figure 8" pattern around the other cone and back, until they have done it 5 times. Each time across and back is one trip. Tell players to yell "Done" when they have made 5 trips across and back. The first to make 5 trips across and back is the winner.
Then, play another game requiring each player to use the opposite foot.
Play 4 games (2 with each foot).
Comments: Whether children continue to play soccer will have a lot to do with whether it is fun at early ages. SoccerHelp Practice Games are designed to be fun, to teach important skills and concepts, and to keep players active. We don't use "knock-out" or elimination games which leave kids standing on the sideline and we don't use games such as "Crab Soccer" which are fun but have many kids crawling on the ground instead of learning to play soccer. There are thousands of drills on the Internet, but most are not well thought out, efficient, effective or fun. Most drills and games do not provide enough touches on the ball or the activity level is too low (i.e., there is too much standing around) to meet SoccerHelp standards. SoccerHelp Practice Games are selected from hundreds we have tried and less than 5% of the games we evaluate are selected for SoccerHelp Premium. We believe in positive motivation and don't believe in punishing a child who has tried their best but lost a Practice Game. Thus, we do not recommend punishing the losers or making the losers leave the game.
See Also "Soccer Moves, Dribbling & Footwork" in Premium