Before you can learn the fancy tricks, stepovers, spins and turns, there is one thing that all good and skilled soccer players have in common: the ball is attached to their foot. Obviously I do not mean this literally, but to a certain extent, I do.
Why is it that some players rarely lose the ball, while other always lose the ball, irrelevant of skill level? The answer is simple, the closer the ball is to your foot at all times, the less likely it is you will lose it.
Let’s begin to understand why.
When you are dribbling, whether sprinting with the ball, or maneuvering in a small space with players around you, the closer the ball is to your foot, the more control you have over it and the choices you want to make.
When players are in the open field and making a dashing run to the net with no one around them, these tips will not necessarily apply. The reason for that is that any player running without the ball is faster than any player running with the ball. Thus, when you push it 10 feet ahead of you at a time and chase it, you gain more ground faster. As mentioned however, this method is only effective in the open field with no one around.
This has shown to be a big problem. When players begin picking up speed, the ball gets further and further away from their foot because they are trying to cover more ground. When a player is around you or in the vicinity, a ball pushed too far away from you will result in the defender winning the ball from you in a tackle.
Begin to think about these tips and ask yourself if you are presently doing any of them:
Even when a full stride, learn to dribble with the ball very close to your foot. This requires a soft touch every time you touch the ball. Instead of taking long and powerful steps, take short and frequent steps. Touch the ball as often as possible while running. Use your instep or the outside of your foot in doing this. Try to simulate a touching of the ball where it almost falls in sink with your running stride.
The reason you want touch the ball as often as possible with short strides is that defenders often wait for the opportunity to attack the ball when it is furthest from your foot. If you touch it every so often, and quickly, the defender will never find the right time to pounce. While touching the ball, it is important to move it slightly left and slightly right to keep the defender on their heels. When the defender does indeed pounce, the ball will be so close to your foot that you will be able to recognize the pounce and push the ball away.
Watch this video of Lionel Messi and notice how frequently he touches the ball while running. Read the above tips and watch how both Messi takes quick short strides, keeps the ball close to his feet at all times, and touches the ball every chance they get.
The best way to learn this is to practice this every chance you get. Grab a ball and just dribble straight up a field while touching the ball as often as you can; slightly left, slightly right. Begin slowly picking up speed after getting the hang of it, but make sure the ball stays close to your feet and the touches remain just as frequent. Initially it will be very hard to keep the ball close to your feet at top speed, but with practice you will get ir right.
What will this yield? You will begin noticing that the more often you touch the ball, the more often players are caught on their heels or caught off guard. As a result, you will see openings to make a move. Furthermore, the more often you touch the ball, the more often you will notice you can begin doing tricks, stepovers, spins and turns because you are attached to the ball. Instead of having to chase the ball down, it is at your feet and you may do what you like.
After having tried this technique, let me know if you begin to notice visible results. I am going to suggest that after a few tries, the results will be incredible.