Instructional Dribbling


Youth Soccer Coaching Manual for an Instructional Soccer Program




In soccer, dribbling is the skill of moving the ball around the field, by use of the feet, unassisted by other players. The basic concepts of dribbling include keeping the ball as close to the feet as possible in order to maintain control of the ball; using the correct part of the feet to contact the ball in order to maintain balance of the body and achieve the desired result; and, ultimately using peripheral vision to see the ball in order to keep as much of the field in sight as possible during the performance of the skill.

At the introductory level, however, the most important aspect of dribbling is simply getting the players used to moving the ball around with any part of their feet. All of the activities below involve one player with one ball.


The coach should clearly identify, demonstrate the use of, and have the players touch their ball with the:

– Inside,
– Outside,
– Instep, and
– Sole*

of both feet to be used in dribbling.

Introduce the “Irish Jig” (a.k.a., “Mexican Hat Dance,” “Hat Dance,” “Dance on the Ball,” or “Toe Tappers”):  Balancing on the left leg, players should tap the top of a stationary ball with the sole of their right foot (preferably with the “ball” of the foot or the “bottom” of the toes); players should then switch legs. Players should then tap the ball with alternate feet, left-right-left, etc., and try to build up speed.

Introduce how to “Make An Airplane:” Balancing using the left leg, players should place the sole of the right foot on the ball and stretch out their arms to the sides to maintain balance; players should then switch legs.


Dribbling in a Confined Space –

Mark off a square smaller than the grid. Coaches may use parents to define the space. Practice the “Irish Jig” and “Make An Airplane.”

Everybody “dribble” – no instruction, just use your feet to move the ball around (everybody dribble “to somewhere else within the square;” “to other green space;” “to a corner of the square;” “to the middle;” “to your mom or dad”…); the youngest players will start by walking – add a quicker pace over time

Non-moving ball – put the bottom (sole) of the right foot on top; switch to left foot on top; switch to right – add hop; switch to left – add hop; switch to right – toe tap; switch to left – toe tap; (challenge – alternate feet toe tap – i.e., do the “Irish Jig.”)

“Kangaroo Hop” up to the ball; put sole of one foot on top of ball. (Make an airplane.)

Run up to standing ball, put sole of foot on top of ball. (Make an airplane.)

Dribble/stop… by putting sole of foot on top of ball. (Make an airplane).

After instruction – dribble with the right foot only; left foot only; inside of right foot only; inside of left foot only; outside of right foot only; outside of left foot only.

“Go/freeze” while dribbling; “All-fall-down/get back up fast” while dribbling.

Dribble in a line around the perimeter of the square (left turns); reverse direction (right turns).

“Dribble Snake” follow the leader in a line anywhere inside the square. (Advanced challenge… Leader breaks off upon request and dribbles to the back of the line – creates the next leader – can be done until everyone leads…)

Dribble – Stop Ball (anyway you want with foot) – Turn Around and dribble back the way you came.

Dribble – stop ball with sole of foot – PULL BALL BACK WITH SOLE of foot – turn around, dribble.

Dribble fast/Dribble slow.

“Make-A-Circle, right foot (counter-clockwise) then left foot (clockwise), first just with ball – using the inside of foot, then around a disc or cone, then around a parent.

Dribble around obstacles – discs, cones, and/or standing parents. (Challenge – parents move)

Dribble to objectives – flags, discs, cones.

Dribble through “gates” (pairs of cones or discs; or parents’ legs). (Challenge – count the number of “goals” scored during a given period of time.)

“Circle-and-Go” – “Make-A-Circle” around a cone, dribble to another cone, make-a circle around it; continue…

“Coerver Base Move” (inside of feet, one-touch, foot-to-foot)

Challenge – while slow dribbling, look for an open area and then fast dribble to it.

Line-to-Line Dribbling –

(Use sole-of-the-foot stop on the ending line…)

Inside of right foot only; inside of left foot only; outside of right foot only; outside of left foot only.



Soccer Coaching Tips:

*The “ball” of the foot is the preferred location, however, this term causes great confusion among young children because it conflicts with the use of the word meaning the soccer ball. Accordingly, “sole” is used. Young children tend to actually use the sole of the foot, anyway. This can be corrected later.

Slower, methodical dribbling at young ages is referred to by Coerver Coaching as “Turtle” dribbling (as opposed to fast or speed dribbling which is referred to as “Cheetah” dribbling).


© Copyright, John C. Harves