From your first touch to free kicks, to become the best soccer player possible, you need to put the hours in on the training pitch to score goals in the match.
Even greats of the game like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have spent hours practicing with a ball at their feet to hone in on their craft.
With soccer now becoming more prominent in the US, with greats like David Beckham setting up a new soccer franchise in Miami, there’s no better time than the present to start training, join a team, and get playing.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide on the best individual soccer drills for both youth and adult players looking to enhance their skills.
This guide will walk you through all of the best individual soccer drills and tips you’ll need to develop each part of your game, from passing to shooting.
Plus, we’ll also be busting a few training myths in our FAQ guide below.
But let’s warm up and kick things off with what you’re going to need to get your training underway.
Equipment For Individual Drills
For these individual soccer drills, you’re going to need some equipment.
Firstly, it’s pretty essential you have at least one soccer ball. If you’re getting serious about your training plan, you should opt to buy more than one football.
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Plus, you’re also going to need some cones, and you might also want to pick up a few soccer nets you can pass the ball into.
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Lastly, you’re also going to need to find yourself a wall to play against and a soccer goal to shoot at. These can sometimes be quite difficult to find and aren’t totally essential to your training, but they will certainly come in handy as we work through the following drills. An alternative to this is to purchase a rebounder.
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Individual Ball Control And First Touch Drills
Ball control is everything in Soccer.
You won’t control the ball without a good first touch and will easily get dispossessed in a match.
That’s why it’s imperative to spend a large proportion of time perfecting your first touch, and once you’ve perfected it, continue to work on it.
Here are five individual soccer drills that will give you a few tips to improve your ball control.
This is a straightforward yet effective way to improve your control of the football and is an excellent activity for kids who are new to the game.
You can do this drill on grass or hard surfaces, but I recommend if you’re planning on playing 11-a-side soccer, train in your boots, so you get an even better feel of the ball.
For this drill, grab your soccer ball and practice doing 10 ‘keepy uppy’s’ on your left and your right foot four times over.
Technically, you want to keep your foot flat under the ball to ensure the ball bounces nicely up from your laces about a foot into the air and doesn’t fly off at all different angles.
Once you’ve done ten juggles on each, try increasing the difficulty by doing 20 on each foot and repeating that four times over. Then try alternating each foot as you juggle, and make sure to use your weak foot just as much as your strong foot.
I’d advise you to then move on to doing mini-juggles. Here we want to scoop the ball up off our laces very lightly with multiple small touches. Practice doing around 20 mini-juggles on each foot and then swap around, again ensuring you train your weak foot as much as your strong foot.
One-touch Wall Passes
Wall passes are a great way for individual players to work on their passing skills while developing their ability to control a ball coming in at speed.
In the one-touch wall passing drill, all you need is a wall and a football. Start by slowly striking the ball into the wall with your right foot, and continue to pass the ball back to the wall with your foot’s instep without taking a touch to trap the football.
After you’ve done ten passes on one foot, swap it round to your other foot and continue to do ten passes on the opposite side. Repeat that for four sets of ten, after which you want to ramp the speed of your passes to drive the ball into the wall and control the ball at pace.
As you speed up, you’ll have to work harder to control the shape of your foot to keep the ball traveling in a straight direction at the wall, and if you also want to become more accurate in your passing, try to target a specific area of the wall.
Two-touches Wall Passes
Like the one-touch wall pass, but in this drill, we’re adding an extra touch and will work a little more on our accuracy with the pass. Firstly we’re going to create a strike zone on the wall, where you’re going to play the ball to. Place two cones about half a meter apart in front of the ball and proceed to strike the ball in between the cones with your right foot.
As the ball bounces back off the wall, trap it with your left foot and pass to your strike zone again with your right foot. Continue like this for ten reps, and then change over, so you are working on your control with your right foot and passing with your left.
Wall Volleys (With added variations)
We’re going to take things aerial this time, and instead of passing the ball along the floor, you’re going to chip the ball into the air.
And there are several variations you can try with this drill.
The first is to bounce the ball off the wall and volley it back to the wall without taking a touch. Again this can be a little tricky, and you’ll need to stay on your toes and use your instep again to control the ball coming down on you.
Once you’ve worked both feet on the no-touch wall volley, you can then incorporate touch into the drill. Bounce the ball off the wall, and take a touch as it comes to your feet. Try to use your juggling skills to bounce the ball back up in the air with one foot and then volley it against the wall again with the other foot.
Lastly, throw the ball at the wall on a lower trajectory this time so that it comes back towards you at chest height. Use your chest to control the ball and touch it down to one of your feet, which you will use to volley the ball back at the wall repeatedly.
The High Ball
Everyone hates having to deal with a high ball in a match. But the best players, like Luis Suarez, can control a ball coming from nearly 35m up in the sky!
Now I’m not saying you need to be dropping soccer balls out of a crane to help you work on your control under the high ball, but it is important to still work on your skills under the ball coming at you from the sky.
So for this drill, start by throwing the ball up in the air and try to receive the ball with a deft touch on the instep of your foot or even on your laces. The goal is to take the sting out of the ball so that when it bounces off your boot, it may pop up into the air about a foot before dropping neatly onto the floor.
As you start to get more confident, try throwing the ball higher, or even kicking the ball into the air, and incorporating a pass at the end of the move to add a bit of extra pressure to the situation.
Individual Passing Drills
Passing is one of the most essential skills to master in soccer. If you can’t pass, then simply put, your team won’t score.
From long balls to short passes, it can be difficult to train your passing individually, and on some occasions, you might need to buddy up to train certain types of passes.
But we’ve devised a few passing drills you can use to hone in on your passing skills without needing another person to play the ball back to you.
Short Passing Gate Drill
Earlier in this guide, we covered both one-touch and two-touch wall passing, and both of those soccer training drills are great ways to improve your passing skills.
And you can use the wall again for this drill. Place two cones a meter apart against the wall and create a gate to pass the ball through. Then you’re going to place another target, a meter along the wall from your first gate and a third gate another meter away from that.
With your three gates set up against the wall, you can then practice your one-touch and two two-touch wall passing but will try to pass the ball into each of the gates. Use both feet to pass the ball, and mix up the order of the gates you pass the ball into.
Plus, if you have space behind you and multiple footballs to hand, you can set up numerous gates or targets behind you and spread them out at varying angles.
You can then practice passing the ball into the wall, collecting the ball, turning and playing the ball into one of the targets behind you.
This will help you work on your control with the ball at your feet while also helping you react to a situation and play the ball to a teammate after receiving a pass.
Long Passing Target Practice
Long passes can tear defenses open, especially if you can spray quality passes like David Beckham or Frank Lampard.
If you want to pinpoint your winger 60 meters down the field, check out this long passing target drill you can practice on your own.
Firstly, you’re going to want to set up a target zone. This is where you’ll be looking to pass the ball into. Set up a square that is five paces apart in each direction.
Then step back around 20 meters from the square. This will be your starting position.
You’ll then need to play passes into that square, along the ground, and in the air, with the aim of stopping at least one pass in the target, rolling at least one pass through the target, and bouncing at least one aerial pass through the target.
Once you’ve worked on both feet, move your starting position back another ten meters, repeat the drill, and continue moving further away from the target until you can no longer reach the target.
Individual Dribbling Drills
Now don’t think dribbling is a skill that wingers and strikers should only practice.
Every soccer player needs to be able to dribble effectively to maintain possession.
Defenders need to dribble well, change direction and hold up the football to maintain possession and prevent attackers from stealing the ball from them. While attackers need to be able to collect the ball and break the line to score.
Here are a couple of great individual dribbling drills you can do in your backyard to help you improve your ball control on the run.
Figure Of Eights
All junior players will start out learning the soccer figure of eight.
This simple drill requires players to set two cones about ten meters apart in a straight line. Grab your soccer ball, and start running between the two cones.
As you come to the first cone, dribble your way around the obstacle in a circle and set off again towards the opposite cone.
You can then alternate how you dribble around the circuit, for example, using only your left foot or perhaps using only your instep or outstep. But make sure you alternate feet and run at pace as you transition from cone to cone.
This is an excellent drill for those looking to improve on their footwork.
Slaloms require players to use all parts of their feet as they weave their way through a network of cones. Set your cones up in a line, and have no less than half a meter between each cone.
The better you become at weaving your way through these cones, the more you can reduce the distance between them, but space them out a meter apart to start with and work towards reducing that distance.
Next, grab your football and start weaving your way through the cones. Try to avoid hitting any of the cones, and see how quickly you can get up and down the circuit.
For those beginners starting out, try to use both feet and use all parts of your foot. For example, practice rolling the ball between the cones with the sole of your foot and then use the outside of your foot to shift the ball away from your feet.
And if you’re looking to make this drill really hard, set your slalom up in a circle to change your center of gravity over the ball.
Running with the ball at speed is a challenging skill to master. But once done, the best wingers and strikers can tear holes in opposition defenses with blistering pace.
For this drill, you want to set up a course of gates on a 60-meter long circuit. Each gate will be staggered at an angle to its previous; see an example in the diagram below.
Players will sprint out of the starting point and will transition through each of the gates with the soccer ball at their feet. As each gate is at a slightly different angle to the last, players will be challenged to subtly change direction as they run at high speed.
This simulates players having to evade defenders coming on to them as they advance higher up the pitch.
And if you want to make this drill really difficult, reduce the distance between the gates to require you to change your direction on a steeper angle.
Individual Shooting Drills
Scoring a goal is one of the best feelings in the world.
Especially if it’s a 40-yard screamer from outside of the box, there’s nothing better.
But you can’t win games if you don’t score goals, so that’s why it’s always important to use these soccer exercises to work on your shooting skills.
For these individual soccer drills, you’ll need to find yourself a goal, preferably a full-sized goal, if you’re playing 11-a-side soccer.
Here are the best individual shooting training drills that will help you score worldies like Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The standing shot is a great individual soccer drill that gets players working on their accuracy.
Similar to a free-kick drill, place the ball in different areas on the pitch. I’d start in the middle, about 20-30 yards out from goal, pick a target zone, and have a swing.
This training drill is all about accuracy and improving your connection with the football. Use your laces to get more power on the football, and strike up and through the ball. Many junior soccer players also forget to follow through on the shot, so make sure your follow-through is as big as your backswing, as, like in golf, your follow-through adds spin and direction to the shot.
This is also where you can practice putting power and spin on the shot, so try moving the ball back slightly further from your starting point and testing what you have in the tank.
And don’t worry if you don’t have a goalkeeper either if you’re feeling inventive, you can set up some targets in the goal you can aim for.
For example, you can hang some targets from the crossbar in the corners of the goal or set up a few water bottles on the floor you can aim to knock over.
Lying Down Shot
This fun drill challenges the player to adjust their body position quickly before taking the shot.
In a similar vein to the standing shot, players will start by lying down 5 meters out from the ball, and they will pick their target and quickly jump to their feet and take a shot.
This drill may seem like a novelty, and it can be pretty funny to watch strikers fall over their feet before hitting the ball, but it is designed to help strikers get their feet in the correct position before they strike the ball.
It simulates a game scenario where players have only a few seconds to sort their feet out to take a shot.
Shoot On The Move
Nine times out of ten, you’ll be moving forwards at pace on goal, so you’ll need to practice how to shoot on the move.
The best way to do this is to start out by rolling the ball forwards and then taking a shot. Set yourself up centrally on the goal to start, around maybe 20 yards out, and take several shots off both feet, aiming for both corners, striking the ball high into the net, and low along the floor.
After you’ve had a good swing with both feet, change your attack angle on the goal and hit shots from both the left and the right-hand side of the pitch.
Then start to incorporate a run onto your shots, dribble the ball forward around five to ten paces, and put your foot through the shot.
The Assault Course
This exercise challenges strikers to adjust their body position and get into the right shape to make a shot after sprinting, sidestepping, and dribbling the soccer ball.
The assault course consists of three stages and is designed to simulate a striker making a winding run and getting back onside before they have a crack at the goal.
Start the Assault course around 30 yards from the goal, and start by sidestepping between the first zig-zag of cones. Next, the player will pick up a football and dribble around a slalom course. You can lay out as many cones as you think necessary and at varying distances for both the slalom and the sidestep course.
After you reach the end of the slalom, the player should revert to themselves, sprinting with the ball back to a cone in the middle of the pitch, which they will loop around, take a touch, and have a shot at goal.
The final turn should go some way in simulating a striker receiving a pass or dribbling around a player with his back to the goal, turning, setting his body up, and shooting.
It’s an excellent drill for those strikers looking to improve their body shape as they strike the football.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I be training my soccer skills?
Ideally, you should be looking to train your skills at least two times a week away from team practice. The more you practice and the harder you work, the better you will become.
Are soccer players naturally talented?
It’s true some players are born with naturally quick feet, but that is something a lot of other players like hot stepper Cristiano Ronaldo have worked on to improve over time. Again practice makes perfect.
What is the most important skill in soccer?
For me, it’s having a good touch. The better your touch, the more you will control the football and then do pretty much every other skill in the book, from dribbling to shooting. Ultimately the more time you spend working on improving your ball control, the better the rest of your game will become.
When it comes to running your own soccer training sessions, my top tip is to make sure you’re always having fun. No matter how hard the session or the skill you’re trying to learn, just make sure you’re enjoying playing the game as soccer is all about having fun and showing off your skills.
But make sure to work hard off the pitch, practice, and improve your soccer skills so that when you cross over the white line on game day, you’ll immediately see the results and score some cracking goals!
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