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

Small Ball Training

Accelerate skill development with the Brasilian Futebol

3futebols1Brazilians w Futebols

Photos of the Brasilian Futebol used in soccer practice

Developing Ball skills by Juggling

Juggling is a great way to deveop touch for the game of soccer. The repetition of touching the ball deftly to keep the ball within reach to be able to touch it again and again and again (with the intent of not letting the ball touch the ground) helps to develop a feel for the ball that will build confidence while honing focus and dexterity. The various angles and body positions required to make the ball do what it is you want it to do translates nicely into game play. Developing the ability to strike the ball properly and consistently helps players develope eye/foot coordination which is essential for recieving and controling or striking a soccer ball. It is not as simple as just learning how to juggle. In other words, it’s not how many times you can juggle a ball without it touching the ground, it’s what you do with thos touches that count. The point of learning how to juggle is to make the ball do what you want it to do. Master the ball.

Using a smaller ball like the Brasilian Futebol or even a tennis ball can accelerate progress and sharpen eye-foot coordination as well as develop balance, quick feet and touch on the ball. After becoming an accomplished juggler with a small ball will make it easier to control and manipulate a regulation game ball.

If you are just learning here is a good place to start:

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Soccer Skills Development

Go after it

The original Brasilian Soccer Training Ball

3futebols1Soccer Training Ball Size

Jurgen Klinsmann on the FIFA Coach of the Year

Klinsmann was included earlier this week among 10 FIFA World Coach of the Year nominees. His former Germany assistant turned World Cup-winning coach, Joachim Low, also made the list and is the top contender. Three finalists will be named on Dec. 1 and winner will be announced on Jan. 15, 2015. On Friday, Klinsmann was also added to the 2015 German Football Ambassador of Year shortlist.

Klinsmann made the FIFA list for the first time and is also the first U.S. coach to be included on it since the award’s inception in 2010. It is also the first time that any U.S. men’s coach has made the long list of any major award nomination.

Since being named the U.S. head coach in July 2011, the 50-year-old took the Americans to historic wins against Italy in February 2012 — the 1-0 being the first win against the four-time World Cup winners since 1934 — and their first win against Mexico in the Estadio Azteca later that year.

In 2013, the U.S. defeated Germany 4-3 during Joachim Low’s summer tour and also won the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

FIFA World Coach of the Year nominees: Carlo Ancelotti (Italy/Real Madrid), Antonio Conte (Italy/Juventus/Italy national team), Pep Guardiola (Spain/Bayern Munich), Jurgen Klinsmann (Germany/U.S. national team), Joachim Low (Germany/Germany national team), Jose Mourinho (Portugal/Chelsea), Manuel Pellegrini (Chile/Manchester City), Alejandro Sabella (Argentina/Argentina national team), Diego Simeone (Argentina/Atletico Madrid), Louis van Gaal (Netherlands/Netherlands national team/Manchester United).

Soccer Skills: Small Ball Training

Training with a small ball is excellent for developing skills. A smaller ball will help players  enhance their eye-foot coordination, increase focus on the ball and refine mechanics used to receive (trap) and control the ball.

Small ball training can be done individually or in group sessions. Juggling is an excellent way to train individually. Check out

Soccer-Tennis is also a great game to play 1v1 or 2v2. Take a look at

Small ball training is also ideal for tiger ball situations (3v1 or 5v2) or sessions of keep-away, 3v3 to 8v8 with no goals ( try putting together 5 touches consecutively for a point).


Try some small ball training. It develops touch, refines control and builds confidence on the ball. Once you master a smaller ball the regulation game ball will be much easier to control.Photos of the Brasilian Futebol used in soccer practice

Small Ball Training; First Touch

First touch; receiving and/or trapping a ball while in play.  First touch is important in controlling a ball whether a player is receiving a pass, gathering a loose ball or playing a long ball via free kick, goal kick or goalie punt.  Developing a good, or great, first touch will buy time on the ball, help speed up play and allow players time to make better decisions on the ball. All this leads to better possessions for both individual and team play


A great way to develop a first touch while training individually is by juggling.


Training with a brasilian futebol will enhance touch and speed progress. 


First, it is important to become a proficient juggler. Being able to juggle a ball 20 to 30 times on your laces without losing control or letting the ball touch the ground it a good start. More is better, but no need to go beyond 100 touches without the ball touching the ground.  It is more about what you can do with those touches than the amount.


Once you are proficient a good drill is to knock the ball high into the air and settle it in your sweet spot with a soft touch.  We call this Three touch and a knock: Juggle the ball three times and then kick it (knock it) 10 to 15 feet in the air, control the ball with the first touch, a soft touch, trying to keep the ball below your waist and within reach so the next touch  sets up the next knock.

The idea is to use one to two touches after settling the high ball with the first soft touch, or trap, to adjust and compose yourself. Then knock the ball 10 to 15 feet in the air again. Repeat this process. Focus on controlling the ball with your first touch after you have “knocked” it into the air,. A good first touch is essential if you are to maintain control and set up the knock again. A good first touch leads to a chance for a second good touch etc. Without a good first touch usually there is no second touch.


To start with it is a good idea to allow for the ball to bounce. Just try to keep the ball alive and maintain some semblance of control. We even encourage using the thigh trap for the first touch just to get a feel for the drill, find a rhythm and develop confidence. We encourage success oriented drills so take as many touches as needed, use the bounce to your benefit and work on progressing. It might take 5 touches to get control and then knock the ball high. Use them and then progress to a four touch rotation, then a three touch rotation (Knock -control- touch – knock, repeat..) and then a two touch (knock-control-knock, repeat). This exercise will help to develop “first touch”.


Small Ball Training: The Gauntelet

The Gauntlet

A very simple and effective drill.  I don’t see it being used much. I like it because it keeps the players active and thinking while working on skills.

Divide your players into three even groups, call them  A, B & C. If one group has 1 less player or one group has 1 more, no worries, it will get sorted out as they organize themselves.

Using cones, form 2 lines running parallel to designate where players serving the ball will stand. The two lines should be 20 yards apart with the cones in each line 15 yards apart. Group A forms one line Group B forms the other.  Ideally the players/cones should form a zig zag if you look at it from above.

x)            B1                           B2                           B3                           B4                           B5                           B6


A1                           A2                           A3                           A4                           A5                           A6

Phase 1) a) Players working at the cones have balls at their feet ready to feed the runners. Group C (the runners) starts at x. The first player (C1) runs (or shows) to A1 to receive a pass. C1 traps the ball and passes it back to A1 then shows (a short sprint) to B1, trap & pass back to B1, show to A2, trap & pass, show to B2…repeat process though the gauntlet and return to x. Have group C run the gauntlet two or three times before rotating groups. Phase 1a is a two touch drill, mandatory 2 touch,  part of the foundation and building blocks.

Phase 1) b) Same set up, players at the cones have balls, runners run the gauntlet, but this time the runners are playing 1 touch passes back to servers.

Phase 1)c) Same set up, players at the cones have balls, but this time they are serving the runners balls in the air using their hands. Runners will 1)c)1) trap and pass back to the server, 1)c)2) first time pass back to the server. This is a higher level exercise, great for building confidence and skill. Servers have to work hard to get the ball to the runner (there will be allot of missed passes at first so the server will be chasing). The obvious progression is thigh trap & pass, chest trap & pass. Then 1 touch using inside of the foot and moving on to headers.

Phase 2) a) Runners start with the ball. Servers will play passes back to the runner that played them the ball.   Runners will pass the ball to the player/cone and receive the ball back, pass to the next cone etc. Coaching points: work on accurate, well paced, well placed passes that are easy to handle. Runners need Play a good pass to feet and follow their pass and keep moving toward the ball to work on receiving and turning the ball while on the run. The turn is key as is moving to the ball until received. Good first touch to set up the second touch as a pass; efficiency! The players at the cone should play a well paced ball to the runner, like a check run pass, while considering the space the runner wants to take.

Phase 2)b) Same set up, runners start with the ball and will work on a creative way to turn the ball as though pressure is on. I often walk right down the middle of the gauntlet coaching while antagonizing and forcing players to pay attention lest I just kick their ball away. Fun for the coach!

Great way to work on check runs, receiving a ball, accurate passing on the run, turning the ball and even a little bit of fitness. Love this drill

Soccer Skills: Juggling – Two touch rhythm

Two touch rhythm

This juggling exercise works on touch, balance, agility and rhythm. It is a simple pattern that requires touching, or juggling, the ball twice using the same foot before allowing that foot to touch the ground. This means the juggler must balance on one foot while juggling with the other foot and then switching.  Use your laces. Try not to let the ball bounce (but do not stop your juggle if it does, just chase it down, keep it alive and continue),and  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, shift 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 or switch. 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). Keeping the ball right around knee height is ideal for timing, ryythm and not having to balance for too long.

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

Soccer Skills Development: Juggling

Just go out and juggle for 20 minutes a day. 20 Minute! Really!

Devote that amount of time to developing skills and you will see a major difference.

Try some of these ideas mentioned in the link above. Start at the beginning or move on to the intermediate. After 8 days of working on these various exercises we are sure you will see improvment in your ability to handle a soccer ball. Juggling Excellence With the Brasilian Futebol

Juggling with Soul: Small ball training

Here is one to add to your repertoire. Juggling with the bottom of your foot;  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 like a tennis court, gym floor or cement driveway.

Begin by letting the ball bounce about 8 to 12 inches high, slightly in front of you. 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 push or slap it back down to the ground. 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 with the ball behind you). 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….yup, it’s true.

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