Developing your Soccer Skills – How to Juggle like a Pro!
Juggling is easily one of the most impressive skills in soccer, but ironically, a player seldom gets the chance to juggle the ball or have a reason to do so during a Soccer match.
That’s a major reason why a lot of coaches tend to overlook it during training sessions, rationalizing that they’d rather train the players on skills that are of more practical use during a match. That I believe, is one of the biggest mistakes of coaching, particularly in junior team coaching: neglecting soccer juggling training.
To strengthen my claims, I’m going to explain to you precisely why soccer juggling is so important, and I’ll also show guide you on how to juggle properly whether you are practicing individually, or with teammates.
Juggling: Why is it Necessary?
You certainly won’t find yourself juggling the ball in most in-game situations on the pitch (Except you are Christiano Ronaldo, of course), but that doesn’t suggest that juggling training should be disregarded. In fact, it’s one of the most valuable soccer skills all professional soccer players learn, and you also get to see the results of perfecting it really quickly. I’ll be discussing the advantages of juggling training in a moment.
Juggling improves an array of your peripheral skills and above all, it’s fun! Developing your juggling skills using exercises that are arduous or plain boring isn’t the best approach for getting it right, but if you could practice and have fun at the same time, that’d be a great idea!
These are some of your peripheral skills that are considerably enhanced with juggling practice:
The ability that develops the most with juggling training is your ball control. While doing your juggling exercise, you’ll learn exactly how hard you should tip the ball with your instep to keep it within your range. This is basically what controlling the ball is all about.
While juggling the ball, you also learn what I like to call ‘Foot Confidence’ mastering control of the ball without trapping it. This is quite important because it allows you to guide the ball as naturally as possible, enabling you to utilize the extra 2 seconds you need to focus on receiving the ball, to target the player you want to pass the ball to.
While juggling, you must be able to make swift adjustments to your body in order to guide the ball mid-air. Ultimately, this improves your coordination ability and you’ll find it much easier to quickly regain control of the ball in a real match situation, where a lightning-fast reflex is needed. Juggling also helps you perform quicker direction turns, which is fabulous to have when you dribble the ball past an opponent.
Receiving and Trapping
This applies particularly when you need to gain control of balls coming at you mid-air. Juggling training allows you to swiftly assess how soft or hard you need to hit the ball in order to keep it within range. However, notice that when you need to trap a long pass with your thighs or foot, it won’t be the same thing as having to juggle the ball to the same height with your thighs or foot. It’s still a good reason to practice the perfect execution of these moves.
There are many other soccer skills that can be enhanced with the aid of juggling practice, but the most visible effects are obtained in these areas. Obviously, juggling influences lots of other soccer skills to a lesser extent.
Now that you have learned how important juggling is, let’s see how you can learn how to juggle like a PRO.
How to Juggle Perfectly
One fun fact about learning how to juggle is that there’s no “right” method to it! You could juggle using your instep, the outer or inner part of your foot, heel, hips, head, thighs or even your shoulders! As long as you are able to manage the ball mid-air, you’re doing great. Nonetheless, if you’d like to concentrate on enhancing the skills I mentioned earlier, it’s always a good idea to follow the common juggling rituals.
Firstly, you’ll need to learn how to juggle with your stronger foot. After you have perfected 50 – 100 juggles, you should be able to use your stronger foot confidently. Then, repeat the same method and number of repetitions, this time using the weaker foot. (Some people are left-footed players, and some are right-footed) Once you’ve mastered up to 50 to 100 juggles with the weaker foot, you should find it easier to alternate smoothly between both feet.
Aim to do up to 100 or more alternate-foot juggles (In no particular order), then try juggling with the thigh of your stronger foot, then that of the weaker foot, and even your head. (If you are feeling adventurous!) Once you get the hang of all the varieties and combinations of juggling, you’ll find it incredibly easy to play with the ball, guiding it with whatever part you feel comfortable using!
When you get to this stage of juggling, where you can seemingly juggle for all eternity (Like Lionel Messi) without losing the ball, you’ll find that you’ve already enhanced your other skills tremendously, and all those hours of training finally begin to pay off.
Get to it!
I personally learned to juggle the ball using the same techniques above, so if you’re able to commit some extra hours on the pitch to improve your soccer juggling skills, you should stick to the program. If you’re a coach, you might want to get the players to do some juggling between practice sessions, and you could even get them to do it as a team. (Actually commonplace professionally)
Soccer players can improve their juggling skills by training in pairs. It’s always a good idea to have players with comparable juggling abilities work together to enable them to improve their skills without interrupting each other’s exercise. Coaches could hand-pick the pairs with similar height range and juggling skill ability. It’s a good idea to select players with similar stature and abilities to work together and not pair a taller player with a smaller player because it could disrupt the activity.
The pairing activity is quite simple. Players simply pass the ball to each another, guiding the ball mid-air, and they are allowed to touch the ball a maximum of 3 times.
Juggling is a fun and beneficial activity that improves ball control, coordination, and teamwork which are essential skills for stellar performance in Soccer.