Dribbling is a skill that excites crowds and wins games. Developing players who can dribble is a must for modern-day soccer. There are numerous skills that players can use to beat opponents. I want to focus on different categories of dribbles and then provide some dribble moves for each.
What are the great ways to dribble in soccer? The main types of dribble in soccer include dragging moves, stop-start moves, and feints. Within each of these categories are several different dribbling skills. Dragging moves are used to create angles to pass, cross or shoot, stop-start moves are used to beat markers who are alongside you, and feints are used when a defender is in front of you and you want to exploit the spaces at the sides of the opponent.
This article will cover each category in a little more depth and provide some video links to demonstrate what the skills might look like.
How to Dribble in Soccer?
What is dribble in soccer? Dribble in soccer refers to skills or techniques players use in 1v1 situations. These skills are used to evade defenders and create opportunities to pass, shoot, or cross the ball. The dribble in soccer is a technique that requires, ball mastery, practice, and skill.
Players learn to dribble by mastering the ball. They use different parts of the foot to manipulate the ball and become comfortable with it. I wrote an article on ball mastery at home that includes some drills to get started. That article can be found HERE. Players should master the ball using ball mastery. Once they get a feel for the ball they can progress to some of the ways to dribble suggested in this article.
Practice is important. Players should dedicate some time each time they play soccer to work on the different types of the dribble. 10–15 minutes per practice is enough to see an improvement in a players dribbling technique. Players can practice in opposed situations such as 1 v 1’s or they can practice in unopposed situations and just repeat the skills over and over until they master them. Practice will help players get better.
Skills That Improve Your Dribbling
The skill of dribbling relates to a few things. Firstly deception, players who are learning how to dribble must practice deceiving the defender. Players should be using their bodies to shape up as though they are going one way, then fool the defender, and move in the other direction. Watch how the best players use deception to create space or time on the ball.
A second component of the skill aspect of dribbling relates to the use of changes in speed. Players need to understand the right moment to speed up or slow down. The change of speed allows the dribbler to lose the defender and execute the next action. No changes in speed can make it easier for defenders to recover into a position to win back the ball.
Disguise is a vital skill that players must practice when learning how to dribble in soccer. They must get great at disguising their intentions from the defender. Don’t give the game away until it is too late for the defender to have an impact.
Technical mastery of the dribble moves will help the attacker disguise the techniques they use. The disguise will make it difficult for defenders to read what is about to happen.
Timing is everything, too close and the defender wins the ball, too far and the dribble move does not work. If the dribble is performed too quickly the attacker might lose control of the ball. If it is too slow then the move will not work. The timing of the movement and the position of the body need to be just right to exploit the defender.
How to Dribble in Soccer 1: Dragging Moves
These types of dribbles in soccer are often used by players along the wing to create opportunities to pass to a teammate, deliver a cross, slide in a runner, or score a goal. The video link below demonstrates a player who is excellent at drawing players in.
You can coach dragging moves by encouraging players to practice attracting pressure towards the ball using soft, light touches with one part of the foot then use a different part of the foot to shift the ball quickly when a space to exploit becomes available.
Observe the skills in the video, and watch how the player, draws in the defender close. They make them think they can win the ball. The attacker changes direction and speed at the moment the defender goes to make a tackle. These moves are excellent for developing composure in possession.
The Art of Deception
Deception is the main quality being used in these types of dragging moves. The attacker is holding onto the ball almost tempting the defender to dangle their foot in to make a tackle. The slow initial touches make the defender think they can win the ball. The attacker then quickly shifts the ball to open up the space for a pass, shot, cross, etc.
Deception is a skill that needs to be practiced, how close can the attacker let the defender get before they exploit them?
I will summarise a couple of moves that a player can master for this category
- Drag Push: I have linked the move into a video clip below. The other moves are developed off the back of mastering this initial move. Drag the ball towards the defender with the inside of one foot. Hop on the standing leg and push the ball in the other direction with the outside of the same foot.
- Double Drag Push: A variation of the move above where a player drags the ball towards the defender with the inside of the foot, and they take a second smaller touch with the inside of the foot towards the defender. As the opponent attempts to nick the ball the attacker hops on the standing leg and shifts the ball with the outside of the same foot they used to perform the inside touches. The attacker then accelerates away.
How to Dribble in Soccer 2: Stop-Start Moves
These types of dribbles in soccer are excellent along with the wings and across the box if attacking the goal. They are great for unbalancing defenders and helping the attacker gain time on the ball. These types of moves involve slow controlled stops followed by quick explosive accelerations. They create space when the opponent is alongside you.
The stop aspect of the move gets the defender to plant their feet, the start component allows the attacker to escape once the defender has planted their feet. When using this type of move the player is waiting for the defender to slow themselves down then the attacker does the opposite and tries to speed up, thus creating some space to cross, pass or shoot.
The change of speed or pace is a vital aspect of this move. Players must perform the skill and then explode into the space creating distance between themselves and the defender. If a player performs a move like this then doesn’t change the speed, the edge that the attacker had at the time of the move disappears quickly.
I will summarise a couple of moves I like from the video below
- Pull Push(1:15min on video): Put the sole of the foot on the ball as if you are going to stop it then pull it towards you, quickly push the ball forward with the inside of the same foot and accelerate away.
How to Dribble in Soccer 3: Feints
These types of dribbles in soccer are excellent when running at players and in front of a goal, they are used to feint the defenders. The attacker will fake going one way and then go the other. Players who use these moves often have a low center of gravity, they take low steps in and around the ball and then use explosive changes of speed and direction to manipulate the spaces at the sides of the defender.
By feinting one way and going the other the attacker can create opportunities to shoot if they are in front of the goal or cross if they are along with the wings. It is important to get the timing right for each feint because if a player does not get close enough to the defender to feint them, the skill will not work. Explosiveness to attack the space is vital to the success of these moves.
Disguise is vital to the success of these moves as the defender must think the attacker is going to move in the direction of the feints. Players must practice performing the skills with disguise to ensure that they shift the defender away from the space they want to exploit. The concept of disguise will bring these moves to life.
Core Soccer Skills
I will summarise a couple of moves from the video:
- Scissors: Run at the defender at a controlled speed, Try to get close enough so the defender thinks they can win the ball. Step around the ball with one foot as if you are going to take the ball in that direction. Instead, step around the ball and take with the outside of the opposite foot in the opposite direction. Keep the stepping foot low and close to the ball. Make sure the touch with the outside of the other foot is big, so the player can accelerate away.
Double scissors: This is the same move as above however the player steps around the ball with both feet as if to take the ball with the outside of the foot, the player then takes the ball in the direction of the first feint. The player needs to stay balanced over the ball and perform the move at the right time. As the defender approaches the attacker, steps around the ball in quick succession and then carries it away explosively. (see video above 43 secs in).
The article above outlines clearly what is a dribble in soccer. It gives a useful account of how to dribble and then outlines the skills required to execute the dribble moves like a pro. Training drills in 1 v 1 and unopposed situations are great ways to learn to dribble. In these practices, players get to practice the what, when, and why moments of dribbling.
The what refers to the type of dribble move the player is going after such as the drag, stop-start, or feint. The when refers to the correct time and place to use the dribble move. The why refers to the reason the player selected that move. As coaches, we must help the players with this information and coach them to pick the right skill at the right time.
The categories of moves provided in this article are the dragging movements, the stop-start movements, and the feint movements. Coaches should encourage players to master at least one to two moves from each category. This will help the player develop a toolbox of skills to use in games. The toolbox will help players to get out of tight situations and make the defender’s job more difficult.
I would encourage players and coaches to watch top players dribble and break down how they use their bodies, and the deception and disguise they use to fool defenders. Look at the changes of speed they use to draw the opponent in and take time to note the timing behind their execution. Being good at dribbling is not an accident, it is an art that can be learned.
How do you dribble fast in soccer? First and foremost, practice the technique you want to master. Dribbling faster involves taking larger touches with the laces as you travel with the ball. Touch the ball out of your feet and try to get into a stride pattern that allows your touches to flow. As you approach the defender take a big touch to the sides of the defender and then use lots of quick steps to escape the defender’s pressure.
Are there any other dribble moves to master? See the video below it provides some additional feints that will help attackers to beat defenders
Find below some links to articles on this site and others that will help players improve their ability to dribble. Each article will open in a new window.
- How Do You Attack 1 v 1 In Soccer?
- 11 Most Effective Drills for Kids (Soccer)
- How to dribble in Soccer: An alternative view