Soccer is a sport made up of many different positions, but whether you are a defender,
midfielder, or forward it is essential you master the fundamental skills to up your performance and make a difference for your team.
Developing your key skills will make you a better player and bring out the best in your teammates too, leading to more wins for your team. As with any team sport, there’s no
better feeling than being on the winning team, especially if you’ve made a positive contribution.
This article will give you the fundamental soccer skills needed to elevate your game and drive your team forward. No matter where you are on your soccer journey, to become a standout player, you must continue to practice and improve the fundamentals to consistently perform at your potential.
The 7 Soccer Fundamentals
The most used skill in any soccer match. The key to a successful pass is accuracy, simple as that. The ball has to be played at the right power, trajectory, and direction to not only find a teammate but enable them to control it and keep the attack flowing.
Putting a succession of passes together allows teams to relieve defensive pressure, build attacks and create scoring chances.
No pass is the same so it’s important to practice all different variations. Short and long, low and high, left foot and right foot. Use the inside of the foot for the most accuracy.
You can practice with a partner passing back and forth or if alone, a wall acts as the perfect partner. For match-like practice, try small-sided games with the aim of reaching 10 passes without the opposition touching the ball.
Keeping the ball away from the opposition is key. There’s no point in perfecting your passing if you can’t receive a pass from a teammate. The ball could come at you from any angle, so you must be able to control it with your foot, knee, chest, or any other body part (except your hands).
It is important to move towards the ball, so there is less chance of it being intercepted before it reaches you, and it also allows you to take the ball in stride, setting up for easier next action. If you want to improve, you must practice in realistic situations. Small-sided games are the best for this.
The hardest part of soccer is putting the ball in the back of the net. Shooting is one of the most difficult skills to master but offers the greatest rewards once mastered. It’s important to have accuracy and power in your shots to make it hard for the goalkeeper to save.
You should use the side of the foot for the most accuracy and the laces of the boot to generate more power. However, using the laces may sacrifice some accuracy, so practice is vital. Keep your knee over the ball to keep it down and on target to increase your chances of scoring.
You must watch the ball onto your foot to ensure a sweet connection. Remember to practice with both feet to give yourself more options when you’re on the field. Most players have one dominant foot but being comfortable shooting with both will provide you with lots more chances of scoring.
Dribbling is the art of keeping the ball under close control, often at speed. The objective is to avoid being tackled by an opposition player while trying to maneuver into a passing or shooting position.
It would be best if you took small gentle touches to keep the ball close rather than heavy touches which will let the ball roll away from you and allow your opponent to steal it. Dribbling is best performed as an attacking move to beat a defender and create more space.
There are several ways to replicate a game dribbling situation. You can practice against a defender in a one v one situation. Alternatively, set out cones in a line as obstacles and try to weave in and out of them as quickly as possible without losing control of the ball. The faster you can do it, the better.
Juggling the ball is an excellent way of getting more comfortable, leading to better close control on the field.
Soccer is a fluid game that rarely stops. Even when you don’t have the ball you must keep moving to support your teammates in possession. If you don’t receive the first pass, you should move again to find a new position in which to receive the ball.
Players should always look to create space, not just for themselves but for teammates. Think about how you can move the opposition players out of position to create attacking space for others. Varying up your off-the-ball movements will make it harder for the defender to mark you and give you more time on the ball once you receive it.
In an attacking sense, off-the-ball movement is vital to create space and situations of superiority that can lead to scoring opportunities. From a defensive viewpoint, it’s important to know your role in the team and make sure you are positioned in the correct place.
Many teams use a defensive ‘block’ and it only takes one player to be out of position to make the defense vulnerable. The key is to limit the spaces between defensive players and move as a team to make it hard for the attackers to break through.
We have covered the fundamental technical skills and now it’s time to move on to cognitive skills. Cognitive skills are often overlooked but without developing this side of the game, technical skills are useless. It’s no good being the best passer if you can’t process vast amounts of information on the field and solve problems.
Good decision-makers can quickly assess the situation and make the correct decision, which is one that they are capable of carrying out.
They have high levels of anticipation and are much more aware of their surroundings. They can continually process where teammates and opponents are on the pitch and where there may be space to exploit. It’s difficult to measure and teach decision making but it certainly develops over time as players gain experience in various game situations.
Communication is not an apparent fundamental skill but it is critical in any team sport. Being able to give information to teammates that they are not aware of themselves makes their job easier, just as being able to receive and process information from teammates makes your job easier.
The more information a player has, the easier it is to make the correct decision.
There is no secret to good communication, often the most simple directions are the best. “You have time” lets a teammate know they have space to move forward and pick out the right pass or shoot.
“Man on” is a common shout to warn a teammate that an opponent is close and ready to tackle them so they must move the ball on quickly. Good communication leads to organization and when teams are organized they are more likely to be successful.
The Final Whistle
The skills I have mentioned may seem basic but the best soccer players are those who can perfect the fundamentals. Whether it is a 5-yard pass or a 25-yard pass it must find a teammate, whether it is a shot from inside the penalty area or outside the box it must be hit with conviction and confidence. Every action must be as close to perfection as possible.
As with anything in life, to get better at something you have to put in the time and effort. Soccer is no different, there is no secret path to success. You must work on the 7 fundamental skills continually to maintain the highest level of performance. After a long time of practicing, these skills will feel more natural but there is no limit to your potential.
Remember that a soccer team is made up of 11 individual players. It’s a game of small margins and each individual must be able to execute the fundamental skills to contribute to team success. Mastering these fundamentals may just make the difference in your team’s next match.