Receiving The Soccer Ball? Not Many, If Any!

What do Christiano, Messi, Kaka and company all have in common?

They have the ability to receive the ball with the greatest of ease and like a great chess player, the ability to think five steps ahead of the game leaving everyone behind in their dust.

Many players will concentrate on passing and shooting but how many players practice receiving the ball?

Is receiving the ball important?

Believe it or not, this is what separates the great players from the average.

Why?The modern game of soccer today is played at a frantic pace.

Super conditioned athlete’s battle over the smallest of inches.

Games are won and lost in a split second.

The days of old when you could have a cup of tea while receiving the ball are gone. Spend more than a couple of seconds trying to control the ball and the chances of you being dispossessed increase exponentially.

Spending more time on the ball without clear possession could result in a meeting with your opponent’s studs or cleats. Remember you only have a couple of seconds to control the ball. Count it, 1 cat and dog, 2 cat and dog, would you have control of the ball?

Lets take this a step further shall we?

Ronaldo and co can receive the ball and have it under control in a split second. Simultaneously they can calculate where their opponent is and where the pressures coming from.

They know where to go and which direction they must turn.

The free space is calculated down to the very last blade of grass.

Do they sprint or shield the ball?

Do they attack or simply build up the play?

The modern day soccer player can have all this information processed within a blink of an eye.

The modern player has the ability to receive the ball using his feet, thighs, chest and head. When receiving the ball you must try and maintain an open stance. Do you know why?

An open stance keeps you balanced and gives you the ability to use both sides of the body. So how do you remain balanced when receiving the ball?

Always stand with your feet shoulder width apart and never be flat footed. Just before receiving the ball, lean forward on your toes of your feet and extend your arms for balance while keeping your head up and relaxed.

This covers the basic mechanics of receiving the ball. Do you agree?

How many different ways can you receive the ball?

Lets start with,

Receiving the ball with the inside of the foot.

  • Make sure your body is always behind the ball while turning slightly sideways. The sideways movement will allow you to defend the ball away from the defender.
  • Make sure your foot is 90 degrees. This angle gives you the greatest surface area to control the ball.
  • On impact, withdraw the foot slightly and relax the leg muscles to cushion the ball. If you hold your leg too rigid the ball will bounce off your foot and into the defenders possession.
  • The foot should be placed just under the centre of the ball.

Things to consider,

  • Where is your opponent? Based on this answer, decide on the space you want to take the ball in.
  • As the ball travels towards you, position your body in the direction you want to travel with the ball.
  • Guide the ball in the desired direction.
  • Turn on the burners and accelerate away from your opponent.

Receiving the ball with the instep.

  • This technique is used when the ball is dropping from height. This by far is the most difficult technique to master because the surface area of the shoelace region is small.
  • You also need to judge the height and momentum of the ball.
  • Provide the necessary touch or cushion to control the ball.

So how do we accomplish this movement?

  • Raise the controlling foot beneath the line of the ball and use the laces to come in contact with the ball.
  • On impact, lower the foot and leg simultaneously while relaxing the ankle on impact.
  • To master this you will need to practice, practice and practice.

Receiving the ball with the chest.

  • The chest by far offers the greatest surface area for receiving and controlling the ball. To receive the ball with your chest you need to thrust your chest out towards the ball with an arched back.
  • On impact, withdraw your chest so this action cushions the ball and removes the pace off the ball.
  • Keep your arms bent and raised so this creates a barrier between you and your opponent.

Receiving the ball with the outside of the foot.

  • This technique is crucial for strikers who want to keep their defenders at a safe distance.
  • Receiving the ball with the intention to move off in another direction.
  • Maintaining possession and slowing the pace of the game down.
  • Waiting for support from the midfielders.
  • Place your foot at angle of 45 degrees while bending your knees.
  • On impact, gently turn the outside of the foot in the direction you want to travel.

Most players will read this and agree with the following techniques. But how many players will actually get out there and practice them?

Not many!

“May the winds of destiny blow you to the stars.”

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  1. Tony Everett says:

    Very true, sadly at the youth level there is no glamour seen in this part of the game. Players would rather be seen striking the ball or dribbling past a dozen players so they practice that more often. I don’t think the sidelines during a game help either, what with screams of “go, go, go” and “shoot!” How is a player supposed to learn the benefits of the collection with so much going on? Good post, thanks.

  2. Thomas says:

    In the short term you are 100% right Tony, no glamour.

    Tell your players to think of the future and to think long term. Use Ronaldo, Messi , Kaka as examples. Anyone can strike a ball or pass the ball. How many can control the ball effortlessly? How many can receive the ball without stopping or breaking momentum. Not many!

    Master these skills and you could be the next superstar.

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