INTERMEDIATE SOCCER JUGGLING
After mastery of the basic skill set contained in the Coaching American Soccer Introduction to Juggling, including the instep, thigh, and head juggles, players may be introduced to intermediate soccer ball juggling activities. These activities include new touches and “tricks” performed as individual juggling, then group juggling, pairs juggling, and programmed juggling.
The following progression is suggested to add new touches and “tricks” to the repertoire of an individual player juggling a soccer ball:
(Juggling while walking around can include free juggle, instep only, thigh only, or head only.)
The following pick-ups, used to get the ball off the ground in order to start juggling, may also be introduced:
The objective of group juggling is the same as individual juggling, to keep the ball in the air as long as possible. The group is formed by a circle of four or five players, with no fewer than three and no more than six, approximately four yards in diameter. One ball is used. One player starts the group juggling using an individual pick-up of the ball or by flicking the ball to a teammate. (If this proves difficult at younger ages, the player may start by dropping the ball to his own thigh or by lobbing the ball, underhand with a slight arc, across the circle to a teammate.) Each player proceeds to take two or three juggle touches and then passes the ball, in the air with a soft touch and a sufficient arc, across the circle to a teammate in such a way that the teammate can start juggling immediately as he receives the ball. (A pass with the inside of the foot or the instep is easiest at first.) Each player continues the same approach by juggling and then passing the ball across the circle to someone different from whom they received the ball. All parts of the body and choices of juggle touches may be used to keep the ball in play, including chest traps and one-touch heading. As proficiency is gained with group juggling, one-touch can be stipulated as a requirement or players can try to send the ball around the circle by passing directly to the player next to them.
Juggling between two teammates is usually harder than group juggling because of the control required. With group juggling, the nature of the circle of the group increases the chance of keeping the ball in play. With pairs juggling, the objective of the pair is the same as individual and group juggling, to keep the ball in the air as long as possible. Two players, approximately three yards apart, use one ball to generally juggle two or three times each and then pass the ball to the other player. All options for juggling and passing are available, including one-touch heading of the ball back-and-forth.
Programmed juggling is individual juggling according to a prescribed pattern of touches. The coach calls out the pattern, for example, “Two left instep, two left thigh, two head, two right thigh, two right instep.” An instep pick-up is used to begin and a sole-of-the-foot trap is used to end. The number of touches and types of patterns are almost limitless. Players may also compete among themselves to establish and perform intricate patterns. Players who perform a particularly difficult pattern without letting the ball hit the ground may be asked by their teammates to perform it a second time as “confirmation,” in order to prove that it wasn’t luck.
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