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Keeping the ball close to your feet is an essential soccer skill. When there's no opposing player between you and the goal, you can kick with more distance, but in traffic, close dribbling helps you maintain control of the ball. Learning the close dribble requires practice so you can learn the feel of the ball as you run without having to look down, which could cause you to crash into other players or miss the chance to pass.
Stand with your body in a neutral position, leaning neither forward or backward.
Tap the ball with the inside of one foot, using a short, stutter-type step to move it forward. Keep your hands out from your sides slightly to help you balance and to keep other players away from you. Kick the ball softly; it should move at the same speed as your feet, staying between your feet or just in front of them to prevent an opposing player from stealing it.
Change direction by tapping the ball with the outside of your foot instead of the inside. Stop the ball for a split second by touching the top of the ball with the bottom of the foot to maintain better control before switching directions. This move helps you dodge opposing players.
Kick the ball gently with the top of your foot to keep it going straight in front of one of your feet. This move is helpful when an opposing player is coming at you from a front angle. For example, if you are about to kick with the inside of your right foot to pass the ball to the inside of your left foot, but an opposing player is coming at you from your left at a 45-degree angle, you don't want the ball to go to your left foot. Instead, kick it straight, barely in front of your foot using the top of your foot so the laces connect with the ball.
Turn the ball around quickly to dodge a wall of oncoming opponents by tapping the top of the ball with the bottom of your foot to stop its forward progression. Pull it backward while your foot is on top of the ball, turning toward the ball. For example, if your right foot is on the ball, turn to your right. Resume dribbling in a new direction.
- Practice dribbling drills by setting a line of cones about one pace apart. Zigzag through the cones, keeping the ball close to your feet. Start slowly, then increase the pace until you're running through the cones without losing control of the ball. Incorporate inside kicks, outside kicks and ball stops to change the ball's direction.