Soccer Footwork Drills to Improve Ball Skills (11 Key Drills)

If you are here, chances are you want to get more comfortable on the ball and dance around on the field with total control.

Your in the right place my friend. You can always buy the freshest soccer shoes, but you cannot buy the skills to give them life.

This is done only in practice!

And despite what anyone says…having great footwork is a skill required by every soccer player, no matter the position he or she plays.

So let’s see what are the best soccer footwork drills to practice during training and become a beast.

Beginners’ Soccer Footwork Drills

The following drills are great if you are new to the game, or you need to improve your footwork and ball control.

1. Ball Juggling

How the foot should be positioned tp master soccer footwork drills

Juggling is fundamental in soccer, and it is a great way to get comfortable on the ball.

If you haven’t seen my post about How To Juggle A Soccer Ball, I suggest you check it out to learn and master that skill the right way.

The exercise is simple: Juggle the ball for a specific number of reps. Aim for how much you can do. If you are new to the game, try for 20, and work your way up.

I believe that if you can do 1000, then juggling is a mastered skill for you, so that should be your end goal.

2. Slalom Drill

How to do a slalom: going around cones.The slalom drill is a great way to learn how to move with the ball, which is the foundation for footwork, and the best way to improve your dribbling as well.

What’s the point of footwork if you can’t apply it in motion, right?

Here’s the How-To with your standard soccer training equipment:

  1. Place 6 cones at 2 to 3-foot length. The shorter the distance, the more advanced
  2. Start at one end, and dribble around the cones 
  3. When you arrive at the other end, turn and dribble around again until you come back to the starting position

The set should be 3 back-and-forth runs, and you can change the variations on each run.

You can always improve the drill and level it up. You can roll the ball around the cones, or use one foot only. This video shows different variations:

3. Sole Rolls

Rolling the ball is another way to increase the quality of your soccer footwork. It’s a move you will use in a soccer match, no matter what.

It’s also a skill heavily used in futsal.

The exercise is simple:

  1. Place 4 cones in a squared shape. The larger the square, the easier it is for you.
  2. Roll the ball with your right foot, and stop it with your left foot. 
  3. Once stopped, shift and roll it back with your left foot, and stop it again with your right.

The goal is to stay inside the square and have total control of the ball. 

The set should last at least a minute, and you can level up by increasing the speed and sharpness. Remember, however, that it’s NEVER a good idea to rush anything in soccer.

4. Inside Taps

The last drill to practice to officially stop being a beginner is the inside taps. They are crucial to build harmony and comfort with the soccer ball.

The objective is simple: Tap the ball from side to side with the inside of the foot, over and over again for at least one minute. You must be inside a square, the same one used for the ball rolls.

You can level up this exercise with more speed and sharpness, just like any other ball mastery exercise.

Ball Mastery Practice

The following drills are to further improve your soccer footwork skills and get better at soccer.

They are intended for players with minimum technique but still need extra training to feel natural on the ball.

Find out what The Best Soccer Training App is for you to have access to more ball mastery drills.

5. La Croqueta

The Croqueta is a move popularized by Andres Iniesta. It’s a very simple yet effective soccer move, and when done well, can be a sign of great footwork.

Here’s how to practice it:

  1. Start with a ball and a cone placed in the middle.
  2. Tap the ball with the inside foot, and stop it with the other inside foot.
  3. When tapped, the ball has to pass the cone, and only then can you stop it on the other side.

How does this differ from the 4. Inside Tap? This is done to dribble past a defender, and it is a stop, go move. The inside taps are continuous.

6. Outside Foot Push

This drill is important to another part of your foot: The outside of the foot, a part that requires work since you might need it any time during a game against an aggressive defender.

  1. With a ball starting in front of you and a cone placed in the middle, you will drag the ball backward.
  2. Once the ball is closer to you, tap it sideways with the outside of the same foot.
  3. Once past the cone, tap it with the inside of the foot back up (same foot again), which you will catch with the sole of the other foot to start the same sequence on the other side.

Do this drill for 3 sets of about one minute each.

To make it easier for you to not lose focus, you could recite the parts of the foot in your head or out loud. For example, this exercise would be: Drag, Out, In. You say these words while performing the drill and it helps with not getting lost.

7. V-Drag

The V-Drag is another drill that gets you comfortable with manipulating the ball.

How to do it?

  1. With a cone placed in the middle of your playing area, start at either side of the cone.
  2. In a diagonal motion, drag the ball towards you, behind the cone (if the ball is on the left, your right foot should drag it back towards the middle).
  3. Once in the middle, with the same foot that dragged the ball, tap it to the other side with the inside part of the foot.
  4. Restart with the opposite foot.

Do this drill for 3 sets of about one minute each.

8. Laces Push

The Laces Push is a drill to get familiar with the laces part of your foot, which is important for dribbling, ball control and even helps with finishing.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start with a ball at your feet, and push it forward with the laces part.
  2. Drag it back to the starting position.
  3. Repeat the same motion with the same foot.

Do this exercise for about 1 minute with each foot, in 2 or 3 sets.

9. Outside Inside

The Outside Inside drill is my favorite ball mastery drill to refine your skill: That’s because it teaches you to use both feet and builds coordination.

It also gets you sharper with cutting (chop) the ball, a perfect move to set up a curved shot.

For this exercise:

  1. Start with the ball at one foot of your choice. Tap it with the outside part of the foot towards the outside, further from you.
  2. Catch the ball with the inside of the same foot. That touch with the inside should be strong enough to bring the ball back towards the other foot.
  3. While the ball is rolling, gently tap it with the outside of the opposite foot.
  4. Catch it with the inside of the second foot, just like step 2.

Do this exercise for 3 sets of 1 minute.

10. Single Leg Outside Inside

This exercise is the same as #9, but we only focus on one foot at a time to build stronger individual feet.

  1. Start with the ball at the foot you are going to be using.
  2. Tap the ball with the outside gently, and tap it back with the inside, as gentle as the first tap.
  3. Repeat this process for the remainder of the set.

Do this exercise for 3 sets of 45 seconds per leg.

11. L-Drag

The L-Drag is a nice move to use in-game, where it looks and feels good to do, and is even better if we beat an opponent with it.

Here’s how the move goes:

  1. Drag the ball backwards under your sole, until it is a little bit behind you.
  2. While following the ball with your foot (almost hovering your foot over it), tap it inside with either your toes or the inside of your foot.

To put it in a drill, simply perform one L-Drag with one leg, and do the same with the other leg on the other side, over and over again.

Learn Other Soccer Skills

A Quick Tip

Ball mastery and footwork drills are great ways to improve your skills and should be practiced to get better and more comfortable on the ball.

However, it’s important to move on from them. Once you are pretty comfortable with this skill, you can do it once or twice a week to stay sharp, but it shouldn’t be your main focus.

That’s because soccer is a sport with so many skills to learn, and then implementing those skills during performance. You can check out this great piece that shares this experience.

And the best way to practice soccer is by playing soccer (games, 5 a side, pickup). Playing will always be better than training by yourself!

With that being said, hope to see you on the field pretty soon!

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