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Instructional General Receiving®




Receiving the ball, formerly known as trapping, is one of soccer’s most fundamental individual skills. Mastery of receiving sets up everything that a player – and the whole team – wishes to accomplish during a match, including maintaining possession of the ball, passing, and shooting.

For the Instructional Soccer Program, the skill of receiving is the act of obtaining the ball from a pass, making sure it is under control, and then setting it up in a proper position for performance of the next skill. The steps involved in receiving the ball are:

– Deciding which receive to use
– Deciding where to place the ball after receiving it
– Positioning the body and the body part to meet the ball
– Taking the pace off the ball as it is contacted
– Directing the ball to the desired location in order to make the next move


There are many different ways to receive the ball, however, beginning players should concentrate on the following:

– Sole* of the foot
– Inside of the foot
– Thigh (both inside and front)
– Chest

These are best practiced with the parent acting as a competent server, either gently rolling or tossing the ball to the player, depending on the receive being used.

Beginning players are tempted to take the ball to a dead stop and then back up from the ball in order to run up and kick it. This should be demonstrated as “what not to do” and corrected when it occurs. It should be demonstrated that if the ball is stopped dead, it should be is tapped out in front immediately and then moved onto.

An analogy which may be used to describe the art of receiving is is like catching an uncooked egg. You want to be out in front with the body part and then give and relax to take the pace/force off of the ball (egg) as you “catch” it so that it doesn’t break or slip away.


Parents as “servers:”
Parent sends an inside of the foot pass or “bowls” the ball to the player. Player receives with the sole of the foot, taps the ball in front and sends an inside of the foot pass back. Switch feet, left then right. Perform again using the inside of the foot receive.

Parent serves gentle, two-handed, under-hand, low toss directly to the player’s correct thigh. Player receives, lets the ball fall to the ground, taps the ball in front, and then sends an inside of the foot pass back. Perform using the right top thigh and then the right inside of the thigh. Perform again using the left top thigh and then the left inside of the thigh.

Parent serves gentle, two-handed, under-hand, low toss directly to the player’s chest. Player receives with the chest, lets the ball fall to the ground, taps the ball out in front, and then sends an inside of the foot pass back.
For older players, this can also be an opportunity to introduce them to correct serving technique. You may have them try performing the drills above as servers.

Note: “Trap” and “Trapping” are older terms that were once common but are now rarely used. These terms implied taking the ball to a dead stop, meaning no movement of the ball at all, upon receiving it. Since this is rarely done, because it is more important to incorporate setting the ball up for the next action at the time it is received, “receiving” and “collecting” the ball are more instructive terms.

*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.

FOR DETAILED INFORMATION ON HOW TO TEACH THIS SKILL, SEE:  Introduction to Receiving and Controlling (Trapping)

Any undefined soccer words, terms, or phrases may be found in The ULTIMATE SOCCER DICTIONARY of American Terms available at

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John C. Harves®

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