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Everyone of us probably wishes we could dribble and be as effective as Cristiano Ronaldo is with the ball.  We try his moves in training and sometimes in games.  Sometimes we succeed, other times we look rather silly.  Follow these steps and you’ll surely become a better dribbler.

1)      Head up – All too often we dribble with the ball and don’t look up.  You need to know what is going on around you.  Defenders will be guarding you and your teammates will be making runs and opening up space for you.  Having your head up will only give you more options and help with making decisions

2)      Constantly moving – in soccer we must always move.  Think about it…trying to stop a moving target is much harder than trying to stop one that isn’t moving.  Now add a ball to the mix and if you’re constantly moving with it defenders will have a hard time slowing you down.  This goes for all players on the field.

3)      Touch, touch, touch the ball – dribbling a ball is not so much about kicking it and running but constantly touching the ball as you run.  From a defenders perspective this makes defending extremely difficult for him/her because they do not know when you will officially attack, take a shot, cut in or cut out.  By making small but fast touches on the ball as you move you now have the upper hand in the offensive attack.  Think of it as touching the ball as many times as you can while running at a defender.  In fifteen feet you could touch the ball once or you could touch the ball upwards of seven times.  If you do the later then you will be a much feared opponent and difficult to predict.  A great example of a player who constantly touches the ball while he dribbles is Argentine Lionel Messi.

4) Left, right, left again (and right) – All too often players will dribble in a straight line.  This becomes very predictable for defenders, especially a defender that can match you pace with the ball.  A great way shake-up a defender while dribbling is by cutting in zigzag movements.  It is must faster to go left right than having to defending and shift your feet left right.  Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs is very skilled in this area of dribbling.  Take a look at his wonder goal during extra time against Arsenal in the replay of the 1999 FA Cup semi-final. 

5) Deciding what to do – All too often players will dribble without a purpose or in the wrong parts of the field.  The best place to dribble the ball is in the attacking third of the field.  This way if you are successful in beating your defender you are either in a position to shoot, cross the ball or create a dangerous situation for the opposing team.  You must be aware of your options and know before hand what you plan on doing.  If you are continually dribbling on the sideline you likely may have missed your forwards and midfielders running towards the goal and criss-crossing making guarding them a problem for defenders.  Decide what you plan on doing.  Dribble once or twice, beat your defender then either pass, shoot or swing that dangerous cross in.  David Beckham wastes no time getting his crosses swung in from the sidelines and they are almost always dangerous curving balls.  Nothing is more frustrating than a player who dribbles without a purpose so be sure to know your options and then decide what you’re going to do next!  

6) Speed – some of us are naturally faster than others but you can greatly improve your quickness with the ball by specific speed drills.  Practice slow at first with the ball and little by little increase the speed at which you dribble.  It is important to incorporate speed into your dribbling.  You can be fast on the straight run with the ball or through body movements in tighter dribbling areas.  It is much easier from the defensive standpoint to stop a still or slow moving opponent.  With that being said you must be constantly moving with the ball and the more speed you can incorporate into your dribble the harder it will be for defenders to stop you.

These are just some of the many tips to becoming the best possible dribbler.  What other tips have you found worked for you?  As always, leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

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