Improve soccer performance, confidence on the ball and increase overall skill

Small Ball Training

Mad Soccer Skills

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Skills Development; Soccer – small ball training

Juggling Sessions. Juggling to develop touch.

Three players are required.

Two players set themselves 20 to 30 yards apart with the third players positioned between them.

The ball starts with one of the outside players (A) and is played into the middle player (X) who plays it back to (A). (A) plays the ball to the other outside player (B) who plays it to (X). (X) plays it back to (B) and (B) plays the ball to (A). A to X to A – to B to X – to B to A etc etc.

This is a great drill to work on short passes and long passes, short-short-long, to work on first touch and to work on one touch passing. Players can start with two-touch, a trap and a pass. The player in the middle will always be playing short balls and trying to set up the outside players with easily playable passes; correct side of the body, into space, well paced etc.  The outside players will play both short and long balls, short to the player in the middle and long to the other outside player. For long passes players can work on driven balls, chips (with perfect backspin) and bending balls. The player in the middle will work hard so should switched out often.

Turn this into a semi juggling exercise where the players attempt to play the ball in the air and trap/receive the ball. Use one to three touches to control the ball and execute a good pass. Allow a bounce or two to create success.  It takes time to acquire the skill to execute this without the ball touching the ground, but eventually it can be done. To start, play balls off the bounce or bounces and work on receiving (trapping) the ball with a good first touch and making an accurate well paced pass back to the target (either X or A/B). Start with smaller distances and gradually increase and/or decrease into tight spaces

Work on fundamentals and proper technique using the inside of the foot to make well weighted passes to the target. Passes should have a reasonable trajectory, meaning don’t just kick the ball in the air and hope it gets there.

Eventually players will be able to execute this drill using just 1 touch, two touches when necessary and should be able to play most balls out of the air allowing for a bounce or two now and then.

Then change it up. A plays to X, X turns the ball (with 1 to 3 touches) and plays to B. B plays to X, X turns the ball and plays to A.

Excellent for touch; developing passing and receiving skills and well as communication amongst players. Really focuses on the first touch as players must control the ball in their space and use the first touch to set up the second touch which could be/should be a pass.

If there are 4 players build a triangle around the player in the middle. A to X to A to B to X to B to C to X to C to A etc…or A to X to B to X to C to X to A etc.

Individual Training

Becoming a proficient juggler with a soccer ball can help improve soccer performance. Juggling with a soccer ball using feet, thighs and all parts legal in the game of soccer is a fun way to practice and hone skills through repetition. Juggling consistently and with the intent to master the ball will improve focus, concentration, balance, agility and ultimately eye/foot coordination and touch.

Using a practice ball like the brasilian futebol a tennis ball helps accelerate thhe improvement and will refine all the qualities mentioned above developing a higher level of skill.

Check out the juggling program at

It has some good ideas for beginners as well as top level players.

The Brasilian Futebol - Soccer Training ToolJuggling Excellence With the Brasilian FutebolJuggl;ing Practice With the Brasilian Futebol

Team training and skill development

Advanced Team Warm-up

Players should be

Build a grid with cones that has 9 squares or boxes (3 boxes x 3 boxes). Each square should be 5 yds x 5 yds or up to 8 yds x 8 yds.
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As a warm-up give each player a brasilian futebol and ask them to juggle in the grid.
Restrict them to 2 touches and one bounce in each square. Or 3 touches or 4 or no bounces, whatever fits your team’s skill level. Remember we are trying to make this success oriented while testing the envelope.
Once they find the rhythm include the added restriction that they cannot go back to the square they just came from. Then see if they can move through all nine squares in an allotted time. What ever it takes to accomplish movement with the ball.
The goal is to move with the ball, and/or make the ball do what it is they want or need the ball to do. At the same time players will need to avoid other players in the box while moving from grid to grid, keeping the ball alive  hopefully while juggling under control.


This is a very difficult exercise and may take several sessions to accomplish some sense of success.
Ask for some artistry and creativity.
Execute a “sombrero” to change directions. A sombrero can be flipping, kicking or knocking a ball over your own head to reverse direction and go the other way, or it can be touching it over another players head, usually a defender, as they run by or at you, or as you run by them.
Maybe they could skip a square, chase the ball down, control it and move on.

They can also work in pairs. One futebol per pair. 2 touches, one bounce per square (or whatever works). Cannot receive ball in the same grid twice.
Work in groups of three.

We like using the brasilian futebol in warm-ups and for skills because it adds another element of challenge and accelerates the skills development process.\

Colors of Brasilian Futebol

Futebol Warm-up.

This is a warm-up unique to Brasilian futebol Training.  An exercise requiring players to execute touches or moves based on the color of the ball they receive. Brasilian Training balls come in various colors which makes this drill possible.

Ideally there should be at least 1 futebol for every 2 players.

Build a grid or use the center circle. Place half the players on the outside of the grid and half will work in the middle.

Players on the outside serve the ball to players in the middle.

Players in the middle work on showing to the servers on the outside to receive a ball and pass it back, then turn and find another server in a different part of the grid and repeat.  Run 2 minutes and switch – servers become workers and visa versa.

Assign a task to each color. For instance, a Red Futebol requires players to play a one touch pass back to the server, a Blue Futebol requires two touch before passing the futebol back to the server, a player receiving a Yellow Futebol  must execute a move (a Cruyff or a step-over or whatever move they are working on) before returning a ball, Blue Futebol  requires the player to turn the ball. Make it up or introduce concepts you have been working on in practice.

Servers can either hold the ball in their hands to serve or play the ball from the ground (feet only). Holding the ball will allow service in the air so runners can work on various traps (thigh, chest etc) or playing one touch balls out of the air back to the server. Service must match up with color tasks/requirements. I like the idea of a chest or thigh trap that turns into a move as the ball is settled…but it’s your team and your practice.

The second concept is to have players roam free in a grid and roll out various colored futebols, again maybe 1 futebol  for every two players, and have them work free form checking to players with balls and executing the required tasks assigned to the various colored balls.

This is a great drill for working on decision making. Players have to focus and think about what they have to do upon receiving the ball. A nice little warm –up.

Juggling exercise for touch, balance and agility

Two touch rhythm:  2/27/2014

This juggling exercise works on touch, balance and agility. It is a simple pattern that goes like this: touch, or juggle, the ball twice on one foot, using the laces, before alternating to the other foot. Try not to let the ball bounce (but do not stop your juggle if it does), try not to let the foot touching the ball touch the ground between touches. This means you must balance on the non-juggling foot (the planted foot) for two touches, then switch. It is important to keep the ball in your sweet spot with every touch, knocking it knee to waist high consistently in order to accomplish this exercise. As you improve,  juggling the ball knee height or lower becomes the goal.

To start you may want to allow the ball to bounce as part of the switch from foot to foot. Try to eliminate the bounce over time and sessions.

You will find that you may need to bounce and hop on the planted foot (the one you are standing on) in order to maintain balance and stay within reach of the ball. Also, the first touch in each cycle is ultimately important (First Touch!). The first touch sets up the second and the second touch sets up the transfer. If you can get into a rhythm the whole exercise seems to make sense. (this is the sequence/rhythm; left-left- -right-right- -left-left- -right-right…remember don’t let the foot doing the juggling hit the ground between touches)

Great for balance, timing, rhythm and touch!! It’s all about Skill…

Small Ball Training: Accelerating skill development

Small Ball Training: Accelerating skill development  

The Brasilian Futebol offers 2 sizes, the Futebol (#10) and the Bambino (#8). The Futebol is a bit smaller than a size 3 soccer ball, 6 inches in diameter, but is well weighted to better approximate the touch and feel of a reg 5 soccer ball. The Bambino is smaller than the Futebol, 5 inches in diameter or about the size of a softball or grapefruit, and has a nice weight to it as well. Both have a lively bounce to them which requires players to develop a soft touch while focusing on and having to deal with a smaller ball.

Start with the Futebol for a warm-up, spending 10-20 minutes juggling individually or in small groups or 2 or 3. Then switch to the Bambino for 10 or 15 minutes. While the Bambino is only an inch smaller in diameter it requires considerably more focus and effort (mechanics, technique, dexterity) to track, control and manipulate this ball effectively. After playing with the Bambino switch back to the futebol and train with it for another 15-20 minutes. The Futebol will seem easy. We sometimes throw in the mini, which is about the size of a handball, and work our way down the ladder and back up. Once you have become comfortable and adept at playing with these smaller balls the Reg 5 game ball seems effortless.

Try incorporating the Futebol into practice sessions. Great for technical training, small games (3 v3, 4 v4, 5 v5), juggling etc.. The Brasilian Futebol - Soccer Training Tool

Alternative Juggling

Juggling with Soul

Here is one to add to your repertoire. Juggling with the bottom of your shoe, or reverse juggling, tap dancing, toe tapping,, not sure what to call this. Using the bottom of your foot, the soul of your shoe, instead of keeping the futebol in the air trying dribbling it like basketball players dribbles a basketball, use the soul of your shoe to bounce it off the ground. This is best executed on a hard, flat surface with a bouncy ball. We like using the Brasilian Futebol because it is small and lively.

Begin by letting the ball bounce about 8 to 12 inches high, slightly in from t of you, but in a tight space. As the futebol is bouncing get your foot over the ball as it touches the ground and is beginning to rise. As it is rising use the bottom of your foot to slap it or push it back down to the ground much like a basketball player dribbles a ball. It is easiest to use the ball of your foot to start. You will need to let it bounce twice after forcing it or slapping it to the ground before you can attempt the next touch. It is best to alternate feet for timing sake and rhythm.

It will take time to find the timing and rhythm of this exercise, but it is a wonderful way to develop timing, touch, rhythm, quick feet and maybe a new move or two.

Once you have it down try using your heal and the outside of your foot. If you let the ball bounce behind you try  using your laces to propel the ball to the ground (like you are kicking it into the ground). A teammate of mine used to do this as a move to get past defenders; he would slap the ball hard into the ground as it was slightly behind him and bounce it over his shoulder while running past the defender….

Being comfortable on the ball is what enables players to deal with the many and various situations that occur  in games. This is a different and unique way to develop skill, touch and ball awareness. Besides that, it’s fun.

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Small Ball Training: On the Run

Juggling on the Run

Simple, challenging and effective

Ideally you are already a proficient juggler, perhaps able to juggle 20 times or more without out a miss and more or less under control. Not absolutely necessary though.

This exercise will help with tracking, timing and pushing the ball into useful spaces in a game-like situation.

Start on one side of the field and run to the other side of the field while juggling the ball. Start slowly, a jogging-like pace to get a feel for it, and pick up the pace as you getting the hang of juggling on te run. Keep the ball moving in the direction you want to go using various and all body parts, but mainly your feet. Allowing the ball to bounce is encouraged and playing the bounce cleverly will bring greater success. Keeping the ball alive and moving in the right direction is the minimum goal. Juggling the full width of the field, 70-80 yards, at a good pace while only allowing the ball to bounce several times is the bigger goal. Try not to stray more that 10 yards off the straight line. Use laces, outside of the foot, thighs, head, shoulders and chest to control the ball and keep it moving forward within your path.

Great for fitness and tracking. We feel it parallels game-like situations in that it is similar to tracking down a loose ball, controlling it and trying to do something useful, or receiving a long pass on a sprint, surviving a scramble or a series of 50/50 balls etc. Nothing is static in a real game. We are always on the run and often vying for loose balls in an effort to wrestle for possession.

You will find yourself sprinting, skipping, jogging, changing directing constantly in this drill. The change of pace and rhythm is an essential part of the game to find the flow of the game and become unpredictable to opponents.

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Soccer Skills; Passing drills – supporting the ball; 3 v 2 drill

Soccer Skills; Passing drills – supporting the ball; 3 v 2 drill


Soccer Skills; Passing drills – supporting the ball; 3 v 2 drill

Learning the fundamentals of passing and getting open to receive a pass or support your teammate is critical to a good passing game and possession. Emphasizing good passing and recieving disciplines will help develop players and allow then to compete at higher levels.

Developing the passing game in increments is the best way to create good solid fundamentals. Emphasize good technique, well paced and well placed passes that lead a player away from pressure or into an opportune space and enable a good trap under pressure.

Receiving, or trapping the ball, is the other side of a good passing game. Without a good trap a good pass means little and without a good trap it is very difficult to find time and space to make the next good pass or move.

Below is a simple drill that can work on all the basics; passing, trapping, moving without the ball and anticipating space. This builds on the 4 cone drill published yesterday.

Set up a square grid;15 yrds x 20 yrds.

3 offensive players and 2 defenders – 1 ball.

Offense  plays 2 or 3 touch keep-away in the grid. This drill builds off of yesterday’s drill where players supported the ball by getting to the cones at the corners of the grid. However, freelancing is required by the offensive players to find space and support the ball, using the same concept of; spacing, leading runners to space  and finding good, wide angles to support the ball. Facing two defenders the offensive players will be forced to make quicker decisions and anticipate passes.   The key is to form triangles, two players in support of the player with the ball, forcing the defenders to try to clog the direct passing lanes. If the defense does commit to the direct passing lanes then the passer should be able to split the defenders with a pass leading one of the support players into open space (support players must anticipate this pass and be ready to run). If the defense staggers and clogs the middle lane then one of the support players will be free and the game of 2 v 1 is in play.

Offensive players without the ball will have to work hard to fill space on either side of the ball and run on to lead passes in open space. When the ball is moving quickly the offenders will be working constantly to fill space (to get to the open cone).

Coaching points:

Move ball quickly but make passes at a pace that can be handled by the receiver.

Look for passes that lead the support player to open space as the ideal play is to split the defense with a through pass. But do not force this pass.

Ideally traps should be made facing the field of play to afford the player a view of the field, reduce on time  on the ball and minimize touches with the ball. This will offer the best opportunity to make a pass. Trapping the ball facing the field is harder than it sounds. If a player is chasing a ball that is played to a sideline more than likely he is running with his back to the field of play where he wants to make a pass, certainly not in full view of the field. In this particular drill it will happen often and therefore this drill is excellent for teaching players how to ‘dance around’ the ball or trap and turn at the same time in order to minimize time, touches and space when receiving a pass. Trapping the ball facing the way you want to play is a crucial skill.

Playing one touch will have an advantage at times, but playing too many one touch passes will make play too fast to fully and properly allow players support the ball. Two touch is ideal with more than an occasional 1 touch mixed in.

While we will often place restriction on touches, 2 or 3 touch, sometimes we place a 3 second rule on the ball which allows player creativity while still speeding up play.

No need to force play either, if the defender does not chase then a pause in play is warranted.

If the defenders fails to pressure the ball and instead attempts to cut off a passing lanes, then the player with the ball should hold the ball to force a defender to play the ball. In this case the players in support should mover closer to the ball, still using the entire grid (heals on the side line or touch line) to create the best passing angle and open up a passing lane between the defenders.

Great stuff. Great fitness. Lots of touches on the ball under pressure. Good decision making drill.

Make sure to switch out the defenders often as this drill is exhausting and don’t hesitate to run this for just 2 to 3 minutes at a time as this drill is exhausting. Plug in coaching points often to rest players as well.