Soccer Skills:

The Importance of Using Both Feet in Soccer and How to Improve the Weak Foot

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You have two feet for a reason! Use them! - (Photo: Futurity.org)

The strangeness of human life has left most people with a dominant hand and foot.  In soccer, most players are right footed and often have very little skills with their left foot.  Personally, I was a lefty but had the same issues playing with the ball on my right foot.  As any coach will probably profess to their players, the ability to work well with both feet is crucial for success in soccer.  Although one foot usually remains the better of the two, most professional soccer players can still do impressive feats with the lesser skilled of their feet.

As a player, helping to improve your less dominant foot simply takes practice.  This is extremely frustrating because players will want to utilize their stronger foot for ball control and shooting, and thus it will feel like a complete setback to have to switch to their weaker foot.

But learning how to use both feet is absolutely imperative.  The worst situations occur in soccer in instances where a player misses a sitter because he or she had to re-orient their body to shoot with their stronger foot.  In the extra split second it takes to line up the perfect shot, a defender is able to get a leg in and block the shot, and the chance is wasted.

The skills in your less dominant foot do not have to be perfect, but a decent soccer player will have the confidence to occasionally take shots with their other foot and won’t waste a precious second shifting their body in order to comfortably take aim.

As a coach trying to teach the importance of this in youth soccer, you don’t need to make a huge statement about this fact, but you would be wise to encourage players to use both feet.  A good example is when players are working on juggling.  First off, you should absolutely restrict players from using their thighs (soccer is played with the feet), but then you need to encourage players to learn how to juggle the ball back and forth between their two feet.

This will greatly improve a player’s confidence and ball control with their lesser-used foot.  Also, arrange shooting drills but require that players use their other foot.  Try to re-create that sitter opportunity by having one player send in crosses in front of the goal and require that players shoot with their weak foot so that they gain some experience in those high-pressure situations with a moving ball.

Practicing penalty kicks are fun but doesn’t resemble most game scenarios.  Also, most teams typically have just one penalty taker and they use their dominant foot to shoot, so try to arrange the hectic moments when a player really needs to get a quick shot on goal with the weak foot.

If your team can become well adapted at using both of their feet, not only will their individual talents improve, but your team will greatly benefit from the players’ ability to come out on top in crucial situations where their weaker feet are called into action.

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Nicholas Spiller resides in LA where he dreams of musical super-stardom on his bass guitar. He also writes for Sportspiller.com and is an avid Arsenal fan!

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2 Comments of “The Importance of Using Both Feet in Soccer and How to Improve the Weak Foot”

Comment by jayantha
March 4, 2013

as you said it is very essencial to use both feets to a player. but the thing is it is hard to train anyway i am trying my best to train players nbotyh , you advise is much appriciated thanking you.

[Reply]

Comment by Middleton
March 6, 2013

A well-worn cliche that often does more harm than good. How do you explain the most of the best dribblers, and best players are predominately one-footed? That is not to say that they should not be able to shoot or pass with two feet, but they often dribble with one foot and are predominately one footed.

In fact this can have great advantages – maximizing what you are good at, balance, getting the ball to the outside of the foot in a position when you can hit a driven pass or shot, rather than in the middle of the stance – particularly prevalent to full-backs – and as an aid to protecting the ball and good use of the outside of the favorite foot, with consequent position for shielding. I would argue that all the best players in the world have excellent control with the outside of their favorite foot.

Trying to perfect immature skills by forcing players to be two-footed may cause problems, especially for players who are predominantly one-footed, and inevitably dominant left-footers. I have several in my program at present who have undoubtedly been harmed by this mantra. They are off balance, and do not have great control with the outside of their favorite foot – what player in the world has great control with the outside of his none-favorite foot? Messi – rubbish on his right – mind you, not a bad player – I’d be happy with producing the likes of Messi, Maradona, Fabregas (right), Willshere, or for the geriatrics – Brady, Bowles, Arnold Muhren, Frans Thyssen (right), Lou Macari (right). The list continues – genuinely two-footed dribbles – I’m struggling – Santi Cazorla………

Undoubtedly the likes of Michael Owen could have used more work on his left when he was at his peak – but he had the mature skills of European player of the year (!). Shooting I can understand. Passing – isn’t the outside of the foot better for disguise? What player passes with the outside of his none favorite foot? None, except Santi of course. Arnold Muhren would run down the right wing and cross with the outside of his left – he’d get into my team (even now!).

So, its too easy – and for coaches who are just starting or for parents reading this article they could be causing more harm than good. Perfecting what you are good at is not a bad idea either.

Its interesting – I don’t have the answer, but I’m spending a lot of time trying to salvage my left-footers in particular from the ravages of this argument – and as adults its probably too late. The ball is in the wrong position,they are off-balance they have very poor control with the outside of the foot, and cannot shield for toffee. But, talented athletes. All been schooled on your argument. And, their none favorite foot still isn’t very good – unfortunately now just like their best one……………

MM.

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