Improve Close Control

Improving close control and dribbling skills in football ( soccer ) is vital for a player to be able to create space, keep possession, and beat defenders. Close control is essential for every player on the field, except perhaps the goalkeeper. Close control generally refers to running with the ball, and dribbling skills, but it can also include the first touch, and control with different parts of the foot, thigh, chest and head. Close control is a vital part of football coaching, and is covered in detail in our football coaching software.

Close control means being able to keep the ball under control and close to the player. The best players are able to dribble as if the ball is attached to the boot! Running with the ball is the first stage of close control. The two aims are to keep the ball within 30-50 cm of your foot, and to avoid breaking stride. Coaches should encourage players to achieve these goals at slow speeds, and then gradually build up speed. Competition can be encouraged by organising races or relays between players, but penalties should be imposed for letting the ball run too far in front.

A simple individual exercise is to build an obstacle course with cones or other markers placed at varying distances apart, and at different angles to each other. The object is to run with the ball as quickly as possible from cone to cone, but coming to a complete stop at each cone. This simple soccer drill teaches close control, running, accelerating, and stopping with the football.

Improving close control requires turning ability. The ball can be turned quickly in either direction using the inside and outside of either foot. A couple of useful tips are to crouch slightly so that your centre of gravity is low for better balance, and not to exagerate movements of the feet. Slallom soccer drills, moving the ball from foot to foot using the inside and outsides of the feet, and running and turning with the ball will all help to improve close control. The body swerve, dribbling tricks, dummying, juggling and other topics are presented on this web site. Our football coaching software includes several graduated drills for building up close control, and features video demonstrations and animations. It is a comprehensive coaching program even including sport psychology and nutrition.