Juggling is a great skill for any youth soccer player. Although using the skill in a game situation usually angers the opponent and draws a hard foul, practicing juggling on your own is a great way to improve your touch on the ball. However, learning to juggle a soccer ball is not easy and takes time and patience. Here are some tips to help you improve in this skill.
Use your feet, and only your feet. Too often when I was playing youth soccer, we would juggle as a team, and I realized that myself and many of the other children would try to juggle with the knees in order to increase the number of counts in an effort to break into the highly coveted “100 club”. The problem with this tactic is that it defeats the purpose of the drill. How often do you use your knees in a soccer game to make plays with the ball? Probably not anywhere near as much as the feet. So if you wish for your players to actually improve on the ball, it is wise to persuade them to only use their feet when juggling.
Likewise, it is important to use both feet when juggling. Players often want to use their dominant foot all the time, but that basically means standing on one leg for the duration of the juggle, so push kids to mix it up. This will also help their less dominant foot improve while keeping them from falling over!
Another tip is to learn to start juggling by rolling the ball onto your foot and popping it up. Obviously it is easier to drop the ball to start, but realize that you cannot use your hands in the game; therefore your team should learn this skill as it greatly improves your confidence and control of the soccer ball.
The only way to master this art and become a solid juggler is to practice a ton. Suggest to your team that they work on juggling at home for half an hour per day. It is a really fun game to learn, especially as you notice the count get higher and higher, but be sure to stress to only use the feet!
As players master juggling, one suggestion to make is to kick the ball higher and higher and see if they can continue to control it. This teaches them the art of controlling long balls and passes from the air and is a vital talent for professionals. Also, you can learn little tricks like using your heels and crossing legs and the like. Take a look at Ronaldinho’s juggling skills to see how a true master juggler performs the feat!