After mastery of beginning dribbling, especially establishing a comfort level with contacting the ball with all parts of both feet, soccer players may be introduced to fakes and feints, also known as making “moves,” doing “tricks,” “juking,” creating “dekes,” and others. This is when the player with the ball engages a defender, one-on-one, in order to influence the defender to go one way so that the dribbler can go the other way. It involves speed, control, finesse, and lots of hard work on the part of the dribbler in order to be effective.
There are four responsible objectives when making dribbling moves: 1. To create space to dribble in a different direction; 2. To create space to pass; 3. To create space to shoot; or, 4. To completely “beat” (get around and past) a defender in order to do 1, 2, or 3. No matter which objective is desired, ball control is everything when making dribbling moves and players must be equally adept at using both feet when doing so. Making dribbling moves just for the sake of dribbling, otherwise known as “showing off,” or “hot-dogging,” can occasionally be fun in practices but is generally irresponsible in games.
Usually to complete a dribbling move, the player with the ball must first fake with his body or the ball in order to get the defender to shift his weight or take a step in the direction of the fake, creating an off-balance situation in the defender. The dribbler has to be very emphatic with the fake and really “sell it,” making the defender believe that the dribbler is going to go in a particular direction and react accordingly. The instant that this is achieved, the dribbler must immediately contact the ball and accelerate to the unbalanced side of the defender.
It is recommended that coaches use the following progression when first introducing dribbling moves:
- Dribbling up to a stationary cone, fake and go
- Dribbling up to a stationary defender, fake and go
- Dribbling up to a defender who takes one step in the direction of the fake
- Dribbling up to a defender who is allowed to take two or three steps
- Complete move and pass to a teammate or shoot at a goal
- Dribbling up to a defender who is “full live”
With the introduction of each move, the progression is used at least twice, once to each side, with the dribbler faking left and going right, and then with the dribbler faking right and going left. This forces players to use both feet equally and to not become one-dimensional in their dribbling moves. This is extremely important when multiple moves are introduced later or when defenders do not react to (or “bite on”) the first fake.
The following represents a basic list of single-fake dribbling moves (described going in one direction – repeat in the opposite direction):
The Swerve – strong and unwavering dribbling approach clearly heading to the left side of the defender; as soon as the defender takes a step in that direction, outside of the right foot takeaway to the right.
Shoulder Lean – dribbling directly at the defender, strong and deliberate drop of the right shoulder and head to the right; as soon as the defender takes a step in that direction, inside of the right foot takeaway to the left.
Stop and Go – dribbling directly at the defender, step on the ball to stop it with the sole of the right foot as the whole of the body looks like it is going left (right foot pointed left, body mostly over top of the ball leaning left); as soon as the defender takes a step in that direction, drop the right foot to the inside and takeaway with the outside of the right foot to the right.
The Scoop – shoulder lean left; as the defender steps in the direction of the fake, lift the ball from underneath with the top of the toes of the right foot for a takeaway left, flicking the ball over and past the defender’s stepping foot; quickly put the right foot down and step left with the left foot, next touch on the ball should be with the right instep (get the right leg up high enough to avoid being tripped).
The Step-Over – dribbling directly at the defender, with the ball still slightly moving forward, step over the ball with the right foot to look like you are going left (landing with the foot to the left of the path of the ball), as the defender moves in that direction, the ball should arrive beside the outside of the right foot; takeaway with the outside of the right foot.
Fake Kick, Pass, or Shot – showing an instep-drive kick with the right leg, looking like it would send the ball slightly to the left of the defender, stop the kicking motion before contacting the ball; as the defender moves in that direction, takeaway to the right with the inside of the left foot or the outside of the right foot.
Nutmeg – usually with a shoulder lean, but as a result of any fake that causes the defender to open their stance wide and square to the dribbler, the dribbler fakes left, pushes the ball between the defender’s legs with the inside of the right foot and sprints around to the left.
Pull Back (V-Cut) – dribbling toward the left of the defender, step on the ball to stop it with the sole of the right foot as the whole of the body looks like it is going left (right foot pointed left, body mostly over top of the ball); as soon as the defender takes a step in that direction, pull the ball back with the sole of the right foot while simultaneously turning the right foot to the outside; pivot the hips hard clockwise to the right; takeaway to the right with the inside of the right foot.
The Chop – tap the ball right with the inside of the left foot or outside of the right foot (or use a fake kick); as the defender moves in that direction, cut the ball back and left across the body with the instep of the right foot by pivoting on the front of the left foot, rotating the hips counter-clockwise, and dramatically twisting the right foot in front of the ball; takeaway with the inside of the left foot.
Scissors – dribbling directly at the defender, step over the ball with the right foot to look like you are going left (with the foot landing to the left of the path of the ball); as the defender moves in that direction; takeaway to the right with the inside of the left foot (which is now behind the right foot).
The Cryuff (Cut Back) – dribbling to the right of the defender, step left and plant the left foot beside and just ahead of the ball; then, using the inside of the right foot, cut the ball back behind the left heel; pivot and takeaway left with inside of the left foot. (Named for Dutch player Johan Cryuff.)
Roll Over – while leaning left, move the ball toward the left of the defender by dragging the sole of the foot from behind and over top of the ball; as the defender moves in the direction of the fake, rotate the foot at the ankle to the left side of the ball; takeaway to the right with the outside of the right foot.
The Lunge – Similar to the Step-Over, but with the ball not really moving and the foot placement in front and outside of the ball, lunge left with the left foot; takeaway with the outside of the right foot.
Coerver First Move – tap the ball with the inside of the right foot to make it look like you are going left; immediately tap the ball back to the right with the inside of the left foot; takeaway right.
The Circle – sweep the right foot counter-clockwise around the ball from right to left with the body almost over top of the ball; as the defender takes a step to the dribbler’s left, takeaway right with the outside of the right foot.
The Lean – Lean to the left and pull the ball slowly forward to the right of the defender using the sole of the foot drag-over with the right foot. “Invite” the defender to try to get the ball; just as the defender reacts, quickly accelerate past with an inside of the right foot takeaway.
Showing the Ball – after dribbling directly at the defender, set the ball up directly in front just out of reach of the defender and close enough for the dribbler to reach by stopping the ball with the sole of the right foot; as the defender takes the step toward the ball, takeaway left or right with the inside or outside of the front of the right foot.
There is a phrase in soccer that superior “dribblers are born and not made.” Whereas top soccer players have shown dribbling to be an art form, this phrase has very little validity and must not be used by coaches as an excuse not to teach proper dribbling techniques and moves. Superior dribbling is a learned activity, raised to art by years of experimentation, experience, and practice.
When first faced with the live defender in the learning progression, many beginning players will be tempted to just push the ball past the defender and run around him. Coaches need to reassure their players that they are to actually learn the dribbling moves and to not be concerned about just beating the defender.
Players should not unintentionally stop with the ball dead at their feet, but should keep moving, trying the next trick or ultimately turning, screening the ball and going back in the opposite direction.
Players must always keep the ball close so that they can move the ball if the defender attempts a tackle.
Live defenders will have to be instructed to be willing participants during the first part of the progression, reacting properly to the fakes in order for the dribblers to learn. This is especially true for the nutmeg where the defender will have to open their defensive stance (move their legs wide enough apart) to allow the ball to pass through.
Players may be informed that the next steps in making dribbling moves are more complicated actions and stringing moves together.
Remember not to use lines of dribblers and defenders – set up multiple stations.
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