5 Ways Soccer Players Can Improve Their Juggling Skills
All soccer players need to be able to juggle a ball, juggling doesn't make the player, but if they don't have the ball mastery skills and comfort to juggle a ball they will never be top competitive players.
Let's spend a few minutes looking at some simple approaches to improving your juggling ability.
1. Ankle Locked and Knee Bent
Too many young players start out trying to juggle a ball with floppy ankles, their feet flapping around like fish out of water, sending the ball every which way but the way they want it.
It is imperative that when your player's juggle, they keep their ankles looked to provide a solid, clean, surface to strike the ball with. Equally as important, is to make sure your players bend their knees when juggling, if the knees get locked during juggling, it's very hard to maintain balance and control of the ball.
2. Catch the Ball After a Couple Touches
Once your players have developed the proper ankle technique and are keeping the knees slightly bent, it is a great idea to give the kids some conditions to enjoy success.
Ask the players to juggle feet only, left/right, catch. Two touches, one with each foot, and catch the ball. This is will provide a sense of optimism for the players as most can start to get two touches and a catch relatively fast.
Once the players have gotten left/right catch, tell them to get four, 2 touches alternating with each foot, and then a catch. Keep your finger on the pulse of the group, if they are getting four easily, increase the demands. Tell them to get 10 juggles in 2 minutes and set your stopwatch.
Make sure to identify the more advanced jugglers, and challenge them to get higher totals than the rest of the group in the same set amount of time.
3. Keep the Ball Waist High
Loads of players start off trying to juggle by kicking the ball a foot above their head only to end up frustrated and discouraged. Waist high or below should be the criteria for your players. This will prove to be a much for manageable height and is of course intended to help train the players to maintain better, close, control of the ball.
As the players advance, ask them to juggle knee high or below, and for the more advanced players, even lower, or, as their plant legs gain strength, they can begin to express themselves even more with the ball and take it to different heights with different parts of the body.
Take a look at arguably the best player to ever play the game working his magic from an early age, Diego Armando Maradona:
4. Introduce a Bounce in Partner Juggling
As your player's begin to improve their juggling, have them try partner juggling.
A nice easy way to start of partner juggling is ask two players to juggle, give each player a maximum three touches before they have to play the ball in the air to their teammate. Give them one bounce in the transition between partners.
This extra cushion and safety net will help the players gain rhythm, and will stoke their enthusiasm as they will be more likely to experience success in the early days of their juggling careers.
5. Incorporate a Size 1 Into Your Routine
Once the players start to get more advanced control of the ball, and have reached a proficient level juggling, a great technique for improving overall dominance of the ball when juggling and in general, is to incorporate a size 1 ball into their juggling routines.
Have the players start with a size 1 ball and juggle for 10-15 minutes. After the players have given this a shot, reintroduce the size of the ball that is designated for their age group, and observe how easily the manage to control the bigger size balls. It's a great exercise on multiple levels and the kids will really find it to be a fun exercise.
Check out amazing Mardona's technical ability is as he juggles a golf ball:
Becoming a solid juggler won't make you the best soccer player on earth, but all good soccer players must have the ability to juggle. If you follow these tips you'll be on your way to becoming the next great master juggler of the football world just like a Maradona, or Brazil great Ronaldinho!