When is too much of a good thing too much? That is a question that can be applied to a lot of things. It certainly can be applied to dribbling in soccer.
Dribbling is a critical soccer skill, and should be part of player training from an early age. Players learn to keep position of the ball as they move, and learn to be deceptive when defended.
In time they learn to adjust the pace of the dribble depending on the amount of pressure, slow to quick, quick to slower. Young players must learn dribbling skills with their heads up. Afterall, you need to see where you want to go[show_disconnected][show_to accesslevel=’Subscriber’].
Too often dribbling is discouraged by inexperienced coaches, who want to get from point A to point B in the quickest way, too often a mindless long kick.
And yes, there is often a tendency for players to over-dribble, often dribbling from open space into defensive pressure. But this is where you, as the coach, come in.
Part of learning to dribble comes from watching and learning. Young players all over the world watch older and highly skilled players, often professionals, work their magic with their feet. Then those young players go out on their own and try those same moves.
Let’s consider a couple of things. The player on the ball takes on a defender and beats him/her to one side or another, then cuts the ball back into pressure and has to try to beat them again. The problem is lack of acceleration. Once you beat a defender on the dribble move away quickly into space. Job done, you don’t have to do that again.
Possession is often lost when a player beats one opponent and then a second, only to lose the ball to a third. It is likely that sequence has slowed the ball down, and by the time it is completed additional defensive pressure is coming. Time to realize that the job is done, and if the head is up, the player on the ball will find a teammate in open space to whom the ball should be delivered.
We also see a player dribbling in open space who dribbles into defensive pressure and then attempts to pass the ball. That often results in loss of possession. A player must understand that in open space he/she controls the situation, but by putting themselves under pressure they transfer the control to the defense.
The quick touches, feints, deceptive body movements, tricks, etc., must be practiced. Allow your players to be creative, and allow them to make mistakes. Praise and positive re-enforcement in training can come with one word…..Yes!

Author: ray@southernsoccerscene.com

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