We all stare in awe when we see professionals juggling a soccer ball or showing off their skills.
You may be wondering how a regular person, with little to no experience, can improve and maybe even eventually get to that level.
In this article, I’ll be providing some helpful tips to get you on the right path toward becoming adept at soccer juggling. Being a former professional soccer player and a current youth coach, I feel that I have the ability and experience to provide you with some sound advice.
Let’s get started!
Why is it important to get better at juggling a soccer ball?
Many overlook the monumental importance of control in soccer.
Through personal experience I have noticed that the biggest factor separating the good from the best is touch and control. Juggling happens to be one of the easiest ways to improve your touch for the beautiful game. It is convenient and you only need a ball to practice (no field, goals or teammates required).
There is a concept in sports called overtraining, where one trains harder than the actual event itself in order for the actual event to then seem easier. This concept is exactly why knowing how to get better at juggling in soccer is crucial.
At no point in a game would you need to juggle your way around opponents. However, being able to juggle with ease makes other technical aspects of the game seem easier.
The first steps in how to get better at soccer juggling
When I started juggling as a young child, I would always watch other people. Videos and articles were helpful to me. They gave me some guidance and feel for it.
Over time I have developed a number of steps I make my young players practice during training; simple, broken-down stages which make the process of learning how to get better at juggling a soccer ball a lot easier.
The basic positioning when getting started is keeping your knees slightly bent, staying on the balls of your feet and keeping your eyes on the ball at all times.
First, hold the ball in your hands, drop it and kick it straight back up into your hands. If you find this too difficult to start with, it can help to let the ball bounce on the ground first. Nevertheless, if you don’t drop the ball from too high, it shouldn’t be a problem. Do not kick it too high either; the maximum height of the kick should be around chest height.
Continue this step until you can comfortably and consistently kick the ball back up into your hands.
When you feel this step is getting easy, progress to trying kicking the ball twice before catching it with your hands. Keep repeating this step until you feel you can do more, then keep pushing yourself.
Second, it’s time to train your weaker foot. This is most definitely the hardest part of juggling and can therefore be the most frustrating.
A whole bunch of professional players are still completely one-footed and struggle with it themselves. So don’t get down and give up. Keep practicing and you could even say you have a better weaker foot than lots of professional players!
Repeat the same steps as you would for your stronger foot.
By this I mean if you start to lose control or one kick goes a little further away from your body and you don’t think you will be able to keep it in the air with your feet, use your hands. You can hit the ball back towards your feet and keep going.
Another helpful resource can be a wall. Juggling a soccer ball close to a wall can be useful in having the ball bounce back toward you if you make poor contact. You can either be facing the wall or side on depending how you tend to lose control.
Getting the ball up off the ground
This is the final step which will really show everyone you know what you’re doing.
There are countless ways to get the ball up to start juggling, but I prefer to explain you the most traditional way.
Place the sole of your foot on the top of the ball, roll the ball back toward you and then quickly move your foot in front of the ball and flick it up.
You can set yourself goals on the wall by placing marks at the height to which you hope to flick it. Once you can flick it up to that mark with ease, set it higher. Eventually, this process will seem easier and you can start flicking it up almost completely vertically.
At this point, start catching the ball with your hands, as opposed to at a wall. When you can do this with ease, flick it up and then kick the ball once before catching it.
If this is too hard, you can also let the ball bounce once before kicking it up into your hands. Like the earlier steps, kick it straight up into your hands until it’s easy and then try two kicks before catching it. Keep going and see what your record is!
Keep practicing each step until it is easy and then move onto the more advanced variation. It is important to not bite off more than you can chew. Make small manageable steps and then progress steadily.
The very best players are still working on similar skills and sequences. Be patient.
I have seen variations of these used by coaches in professional teams. It may seem easy and silly in the beginning, but everyone has to start somewhere. Steady progression is key and keeping challenging yourself at all times is important.
Following these steps is a wonderful start!
How to continue in getting better at soccer juggling
One thing I mentioned in the first steps in getting started with juggling a soccer ball was progression and challenging yourself.
One thing I did not mention was repetition.
Everyone has heard the saying “practice makes perfect”.
Well, it couldn’t be more relevant here.
This is a skill which may seem impossible at first but, within time, becomes second nature. So you shouldn’t give up!
Even the likes of Messi and Ronaldo struggled in the beginning.
It’s OK to fail. Use it as motivation to improve.
When starting out it’s important to break down the process and practice each step until you are comfortable. But then you need to keep pushing yourself.
No one is flawless and anyone is able to improve.
Keep making it more difficult by using different parts of your body (thighs, head, and shoulders even).
Try different sequences like alternating feet, alternating parts of the body or even tricks.
When I was younger I would find a video of one of my idols juggling, usually Ronaldinho Gaúcho, and practice one trick of his for four hours in a row without stopping.
I made it my mission to be able to do the trick by the end of the day. It drove me and it worked.
Although my example is a little extreme, the idea behind isn’t. Many people overthink and try to find “secrets” on how to get better at juggling in soccer. The truth is the best advice I can give you is practice, practice, practice. Nothing happens overnight.
When I was able to do what the pros did in the videos it was time to move on to the next one. Needless to say, I started with simple videos and then progressed to much more complex ones.
Juggling is one of the most basic forms of training in soccer.
It is the basis of your technical ability and must be constantly trained. It’s easy to practice and the feedback is immediate. It’s crucial to break it down into the simplest steps at first to avoid frustration.
Watching other people for inspiration can be very helpful.
You can never be perfect at it and therefore practicing as much as possible is the most important thing. Below I also included 10 facts on how to get better at soccer juggling.
Now grab a ball, go out in your backyard and get at it!
10 Facts on How to Get Better at Soccer Juggling
- Break the process down into small steps.
- Stay on the balls of your feet.
- Keep your knees bent.
- Work on your dominant foot first.
- Keep your eye constantly on the ball.
- Use your hands or a wall for assistance.
- Keep your keepy-ups below chest height.
- Practice each small step and move on to the next only when you are comfortable.
- Keep challenging yourself (weak foot, using knees, using head, and alternate left and right feet – watch videos for inspiration).
- Be patient and practice, practice, practice.