The Fundamental Skills of Soccer (With Videos)

Soccer is a fun sport for people of all ages. It allows you to develop excellent teamwork skills, burn energy running around the field, and enjoy fun competition with your friends and teammates. Knowing the necessary skills needed for soccer will improve your performance on the field and help you find success.

What are the basic skills of soccer? The list below goes over the necessary skills needed to play soccer:

  1. Passing the ball
  2. Receiving a pass
  3. Shooting
  4. Dribbling
  5. Trapping
  6. Protecting

To become a great soccer player, you should start by developing these essential skills. Having these skills will make you a valuable player on your team and set you up for a great soccer career. Continue reading to learn more about each skill and what you need to do to master it.

Skill 1: Passing the Ball

Soccer is not a one-person sport; you are on a team that works together and passes the ball back and forth. Because you will have ten other teammates on the field with you, you must know how to pass the soccer ball correctly.

Passing the soccer ball is the most important skill of them all. It will be used the most on the field by all of the players, even the goalkeeper at times. Each player needs to be able to pass the ball directly and smoothly to another teammate without the opposing team intercepting. The speed and precision that is required for this skill take lots of practice and time. 

How to Pass the Soccer Ball 

When passing a soccer ball, your foot and body position is critical. Use the steps below to develop your passing skills further:

  1. To begin passing a soccer ball, make sure that your ankle is locked tight. Trying to pass the ball with a loose ankle would be like trying to hit a baseball bat with a loose grip on the bat. The tighter your ankle, the firmer your pass will be. 
  2. When your passing foot comes in contact with the soccer ball, you will turn your foot so that the inside of the foot is hitting the ball, not your toe. Passing with the inside of your foot rather than your toe will give you more control over your pass. 
  3. When passing a soccer ball, make sure that your toe is not only pointed outward but also is pointed up. This will keep the ball from rising in the air more than you would like it to, and it allows you to hit more surface area on the ball with your foot. This will make your pass more direct and efficient. 
  4. The foot that you are not passing with, also known as your plant foot, needs to be facing the player you are passing to. This will help you guide the ball in the proper direction. 
  5. Along with your plant foot, your shoulders also need to face the player you are passing to. If your shoulders rotate away from your target, then it is likely that your plant foot will as well, guiding your pass in another direction than the one you intended. 
  6. When approaching the ball before the pass, make sure you pull your passing foot backward to build power and momentum to help carry your pass further. This will make your pass stronger and give it enough power to reach its target. 
  7. Make sure that when you bring your leg back, you also bring your thigh back, not just your calf. There is more power in your thigh than in your calf. To do this properly, try not to bend your knee but instead bring it backward as well, forcing your thigh to come back.

When practicing your passing skill, it can help to pause yourself in mid-motion to make sure that each part of your body is in the right position. Pausing right before and right after hitting the ball can help you determine what you are doing correctly and what you aren’t. 

Often after practicing, you find that the passes still aren’t doing what you want them to do. Here are a few things to reconsider if something is wrong: 

  • If you find that the passes are still going in other directions, check your shoulder position and the direction of your plant foot. 
  • If the ball doesn’t seem to have enough power behind it, then it is likely that you are only kicking with your calf and not your entire leg. 
  • The planted leg should not be in line with the thigh when you go to kick the ball. This means that you haven’t brought the thigh backward to build power and momentum before the kick. 

Skill 2: Receiving a Pass

The importance of being able to receive a pass in soccer goes hand in hand with being able to pass the soccer ball. Players that are unable to correctly receive a pass and keep the ball in their position will have teammates who no longer want to pass them the ball. 

You must know how to take possession of the ball quickly once it is passed to you without an opponent stealing it away. You also need to know what to do with the ball once you have received it. Being able to interpret the movements of your teammates and opponents is vital when receiving and sending off the soccer ball. 

How to Receive a Pass

When receiving a pass, the soccer ball won’t always come at you on the ground; sometimes you’ll need to receive it in the air, at chest or waist height. Other times, it may be bouncing toward you, and you’ll need to figure out how to get it under control. When receiving a pass from the ground, some of the foot positioning is very similar to sending a pass. 

Follow these guidelines below to receive a pass on the ground: 

  1. Keep your ankle locked tight. Having your ankle locked will give you more control over the ball.
  2. Have your toe pointed downward. Having your toe pointed outward and downward will allow your foot to come in contact with more surface area of the ball and keep it under control better. 
  3. Raise your foot slightly off the ground. Having your foot slightly raised will prevent the ball from bouncing over it when they come in contact. 
  4. Rotate the inside of your foot, so it is facing the incoming ball. This will give you more control than if you were to try to receive it with just your toes.  
  5. Absorb the speed of the ball if it is coming in fast. Bringing your foot back with the ball as you receive it will help you take control of its speed and stop it without too much bounce back. 
  6. If the ball is coming in slow, push the ball forward slightly to set it up for your next move. 

When receiving a pass, remember that the way you catch and touch the ball with your foot should prepare you for your next move. For example, if you have no opponents around you, then you’ll want the ball to be positioned slightly in front of you after you have received it. This will give you room to take a few steps to pass or shoot the ball. 

If you have opponents surrounding you, then keep the ball close after receiving it and prepare to dribble it away to safety. Knowing how to receive the ball and what to do with it once you’ve got it takes much practice. When practicing, go through different scenarios of what positions you and your opponents might be in as well as where you are in relationship to the goal.   

Skill 3: Shooting

To win a soccer game, players must be able to shoot the soccer ball into the goal. When shooting a soccer ball, a player needs to hit the ball with enough power for it to reach its target, and they need to direct the ball precisely where it needs to go to get it past the goalkeeper and into the goal. 

This makes shooting a critical skill that all players, even defenders and the goalkeeper should have. You never know when the opportunity to shoot on goal may arise. 

How to Shoot a Soccer Ball

When shooting a soccer ball, you need lots of power from your foot and leg to propel the ball forward. To build up this strength and perfect your kick, follow the guidelines below:

  1. Keep your ankle locked tight. A weak, loose ankle will not provide you with the force you need to launch the soccer ball forward.
  2. Keep your toes pointed downward. By having your toes down, you can hit the ball with more force from the top of your foot.
  3. Hit the ball with your shoelaces. By hitting the ball with your laces rather than your toes, you will cover more surface area of the ball. This will allow you to hit the ball with more force, and you will have more control over the direction the ball goes. 
  4. Point your other foot at the target. Your planted foot needs to be pointed in the direction you want the ball to go. Having your shoulders face the target will also guide the ball towards its target.  
  5. Follow through and land on your kicking foot. When you move forward to hit the ball, you will want to swing your kicking leg all the way through to create more power. This will also help keep the ball lower to the ground.  

To perfect this skill, take time to practice kicking the ball at a goal or target while focusing on each step of the shooting process. It is also important to remember not to bend your knee so that you can kick with the power coming from your thigh, rather than your calf. Another thing that helps when kicking at the goal is keeping your head down while following through with each motion. This will build your momentum, giving you enough power to kick your ball.

Skill 4: Dribbling

Dribbling is how you will move the ball around the field when you have it, and passing or shooting isn’t an option. Having excellent dribbling skills is critical to keep your opponents for stealing possession of the ball. Once you have your dribbling skills mastered, you can begin to add in other tricks that will help you keep the ball away from your opponents. 

How to Dribble a Soccer Ball

There are several different ways that you can dribble a ball. The guidelines below will go over how to dribble a ball with the front of your foot or your laces. This dribbling method allows you to get the most speed when dribbling because you are keeping both of your feet facing forward while moving the ball. 

Follow these steps below to improve your dribbling skills:

  1. When dribbling in this position, you will want to have strength in your ankle as you lift your foot to move the ball forward. By locking your ankle, you can kick the ball with more force and get it to move forwards fast enough to keep up with your running pace. 
  2. You also want to keep your toes pointed down at the ground, so you are hitting the ball with your laces and not the tips of your toes. 
  3. The last thing you want to do is make sure your other foot remains behind the ball when you are dribbling rather than in front of or next to it. This will help you maintain control and direction of the ball. 

When practicing your dribbling skills, begin by first walking with the ball and performing the correct movements with your feet. As you become more comfortable with the movements, you can increase your speed to a jog and then eventually a run. If you find the ball moves too far away from you while you are dribbling, then you are probably kicking the ball with your toes rather than pushing it with your laces. 

Skill 5: Trapping

Trapping the ball is different from receiving the ball. When you trap the ball, you are often already standing still and must get the ball stopped before proceeding with your next move. Trapping the ball requires practice and technique to keep control over the ball and not let it bounce too far away from you.

How to Trap a Soccer Ball

When trapping a soccer ball, focus on your footwork and body positioning. Follow these guidelines below to perfect your skills:

  1. Line your body up with the incoming ball. By having your body in line, you will be in the right position to use your foot to trap the ball.
  2. Raise your foot; toes pointed outward. As the ball comes towards you, you will need to turn your toes outward and raise your foot off the ground. You want to trap the ball with the inside of your foot between your foot and the ground. 
  3. Keep your feet soft. The softer your feet, the more you can absorb the impact of the ball and keep it from bouncing too far away from you. 
  4. Another option is to catch the ball with your laces and cushion the ball as it comes down towards the ground. This same method can be done, if needed, with the outside of your foot. 

Skill 6: Protecting the Ball 

All players on the field need to be able to protect the ball from their opponents. Protecting the soccer ball requires that you focus on your body positioning. To protect the ball, you need to place your body between the ball and your opponent. If they can’t get close to the ball, it will be much harder for them to steal it away. 

Here are some techniques for using your body to protect the ball: 

  • Lower your center of gravity. The lower you are to the ground, the harder it is going to be for opponents to push you away from the ball.
  • Widen your legs, and keep your knees bent. Keeping your legs wide and knees bent gives you more stability and control.
  • Move the ball to your outside foot. This will make it so the other player is even further away from the ball. 
  • Put your arm up to protect you from opponents. Make sure when doing this that your elbows are in and your palms are facing outward, so you are less likely to be called for a foul. 
  • Pay attention under pressure. Keep checking where the opponents are and use your body to protect the ball as you move down the field consistently. 
  • Stay light on your feet. The quicker you are on your feet, the easier it will be to adjust yourself and need to protect the ball.
  • Stay sideways to your opponent. If you turn your back to the defender, you are at more risk for losing the ball because you can keep track of where the opponent is. 

In Conclusion

Soccer is a sport that requires many basic skills. Once you understand and master the basics, you can further develop your soccer skills and learn some tricks to become an even better player. When developing your skills, take time to focus on each step of the process until you have perfected it. 

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