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Intermediate Dribbling – Speed Dribbling

INTERMEDIATE DRIBBLING – SPEED DRIBBLING

Speed dribbling in soccer, is the skill of running as fast as possible while keeping the ball out in front, available to be closely controlled by the dribbler at a moment’s notice.  This is generally performed in a straight line, the run verging on sprinting, with the ball pushed ahead by contacting it with the front-outside of the top of the shoe above the little toe.  Speed dribbling, also known as “fast dribbling,” “high-speed dribbling,” “dribbling at high speed,” or simply “running with the ball,” is not “kick the ball and sprint after it.”  It is used offensively when there is clear field ahead and speed is of the essence.  The contact with the ball is made every five to eight steps, in stride, almost always with the same foot, during the course of the run.  The way the foot contacts the ball, and the movement of the foot immediately after contact, is critical to the success of the skill.

When contacting the ball in speed dribbling, the foot is slightly turned in at the ankle with the front of the foot down so that the striking surface can propel the ball directly forward along the ground.  The ankle is held slightly rigid at the moment the ball is struck but is then immediately relaxed and the front of the foot brought up toward the shin (flexed).  This allows the heel to strike the ground first in order to create a normal running footfall.  The force with which the ball is pushed forward depends on the player, but the objective is to try to take the longest running strides between touches as possible.  As with close-control dribbling, players should strive to perform speed dribbling with their “eyes up,” looking around and downfield, while using their peripheral vision to see their foot as it contacts the ball.  This allows players to see oncoming opponents or to take advantage of passing and shooting opportunities.

The recommended progression for teaching speed dribbling is:

Demonstration

Identifying the correct part of the foot to contact the ball

Identifying the ankle and foot movement after contacting the ball

Walk through

Picking up the pace

Ending the run with a positive play

Use of both feet

Demonstration

Coaches should demonstrate speed dribbling with a 40-yard run, ending with a shot-on-goal, a pass in front of a defender, or a cross from the corner.  Emphasis should be placed on the fact that speed dribbling is most often used on breakaways or when there are no defenders nearby.

Identifying the correct part of the foot to contact the ball

Coaches should next show the players the correct part of the foot to be used when contacting the ball.  Emphasis should be placed on the slight, downward and inside turn of the ankle in order that the part of the shoe above the little toe will contact the ball.  Emphasis should also be placed on showing that the foot will be almost perpendicular to the ground at the moment of contact so that the ball is pushed straight ahead, directly along the ground.

#4 - Right Front Upper Toe

#4 – Right Front Upper Toe

Identifying the ankle and foot movement after contacting the ball

Coaches should next show the players how the foot that contacted the ball is returned immediately to a normal position at the ankle, and flexed, so that the heel lands first and the foot rocks forward in a usual running motion.

Walk through

With one ball per player, coaches should have their players perform the skill slowly over a 30-yard path, concentrating on correct contact with the ball and proper movement of the ankle and footfall.  Coaches may wish to place cones at the beginning and end of the path in order to demonstrate the straight-line nature of the skill.  Players may use their natural “strong foot” to first establish a comfort level with the techniques.

Picking up the pace

Once players are comfortable with the speed dribbling techniques, coaches should lengthen the distance of the path to approximately 40-yards and have the players perform the skill faster, striving for the fastest running possible.

Ending the run with a positive play

After some measure of speed has been achieved by the players, coaches should set up three of the most common endings associated with a speed-dribbling run: a shot-on-goal from a run up  the middle of the field, a diagonal pass in front of a defender from runs to the left or right of the middle of the field, and a cross at the corner from runs along the left or right sideline.

Use of both feet

As with all foot skills, coaches should ensure that players can perform speed dribbling with runs contacting the ball with the right-foot only and with the left-foot only.  The activities above should be repeated, as necessary, to ensure that players are comfortable using either foot.

Soccer Coaching Tips

–       Contact with the ball is not made with the instep or a “laces kick.”

–        Contact with the ball may be made with other parts of the foot in order to maintain control or change direction.

–        If the ball pops up off the ground at the moment of contact, the player’s leg is on the upswing and the ball needs to be struck earlier in the stride.

–       Young players may attempt to first contact the ball with the inside of the foot.  This needs to be watched for and corrected.

–       A goalkeeper should not be used with the run-up-the-middle and shot-on-goal when first introducing this skill.

 

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John Harves

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