BY Hubert Vogelsinger
So common is the sight of a player controlling the ball with the inside of his foot that you know this technique has to have something extra going for it. It does. In fact it has four things going for it: Safety, versatility, maximum control and relative ease.
The wide surface of the inside of your foot permits good control and delicacy of touch.
The versatility of the move is such that by using the basic trap - formed by the inside of your foot, your ankle and the ground - you can either stop the ball dead or sweep it along and move off instantly.
Youll also find using the inside of your foot offers a measure of safety when controlling the ball within close challenge of an opponent. Since you trap the ball under your body, you can either screen it or sweep it out of range.
You should place your support foot comfortably alongside the ball. The support leg must be well bent for stability. Your toes should point in the direction you are going. The trapping angle is made by leaning and turning slightly sideways into the direction you intend to go. This leaning takes your weight off the trapping leg helping you to rotate that leg out ward from the hip. Your support foot and trapping foot should form a right angle.
Now bring your trapping leg back with the knee well bent. Make certain that your ankle is dorsal flexed (i.e. toes up). Keep your leg relaxed and loose.
Your eyes must follow the ball into the trap. At impact put the inside of your foot on top of the ball, squarely across its path. Ball should meet foot at right angles. Give gently to absorb the impact of the ball or "kill" it.
Sometimes you'll have to do this at a standstill. But one trademark of an advanced player is ability to play the ball on the move. To do this you don't want to kill the ball nor do you want to meet it at a right angle. Instead, make contact more on the back of the ball. With the inside of your foot held semifirm, you can then sweep the ball along in a half-volley move in the direction you want to go. This is a bit like a hockey player playing the puck up off his skate blades.
Judgment, concentration, coordination and a deft touch are vital in controlling a ball on the move. In most cases you'll be moving before the ball even gets to you so any mistake is disastrous. There is no chance of recovery.
The biggest risk of error is in moving off too soon. This leads to placing the inside of your foot too high on the ball and killing it with the embarrassing result of your tripping over the ball rather than dragging it along with you. (But some players will do anything for a laugh.)
You don't have to wait for a teammate to practice ball control with the inside of your foot. Simply toss a ball in the air and trap it. Get it right and you've got something going for you.
BY Hubert Vogelsinger
Einstein would have loved soccer. The game shows the direct relationship of distance to time. In soccer, distance is time and time is everything.
Stand around waiting for a ball to fall to your feet so you can control it and you won't wait alone. There'll be a defender on you. But run forward a few feet to take the same ball sooner, say, by playing it with your chest, and you gain a precious second or two. Also, you don't have to be Einstein to figure out that playing the ball with your chest offers the advantages of a large controlling surface and the chance to protect the ball with the whole width of your body as a screen.
So much for theory. Practically, there are two main ways to play a ball with your chest. You can either play it directly down to your feet or you can ride it back into the air - "semi-controlling", I call it - and play it on the volley.
To play it to your feet, keep your eyes on the ball as you run to it. Move across the balls flight path. Keep your legs in stride position, knees comfortably wide, arms out for stability. Now prepare for the ball by expanding your chest in exaggerated Marine Corps fashion. You want your chest way out, your chin tucked in and your shoulders and elbows pulled back.
On impact, collapse your chest as if you were pushing air out of your lungs. Roll your shoulders forward to form a concave cushion for the impact.
When the ball strikes, straighten your knees and rise on your toes so you can bend forward. This deflects the ball straight to your feet so you can take off immediately.
Be careful to judge the ball's flight correctly so you will arrive in time to puff up your chest for the impact.
Semi-controlling the ball is a good play for times when you're in heavy traffic and you know that playing the ball to your feet would be suicide.
Here, you're just riding the ball off your chest. Instead of collapsing your chest, puff it up and lean your body back so your chest becomes a platform to take the pace off the ball and give you a nice little pop-up of a rebound. After the ball has rebounded off your chest you can either play it on the volley - a spectacular play - or turn with it and screen off the defender with your body.
This move makes it tough for anyone to legally challenge you for the ball. If a defender comes in with his foot he'll be called for "dangerous play" If he tries to head the ball theyll call him for "charging."
You can practice chest control alone or with a friend. If alone, toss the ball in the air trying first to play it to the feet and then working on the tougher "semi-control" move. With a friend, one player can juggle the ball before booting it into the air for the other to play with his chest. This will add some realism to the velocity and angle of the ball.
by Hubert Vogelsinger
The dive header, which is exactly what its name implies, separates the sheep from the goals - the player who merely wants the ball from the player who positively must get it. Flinging your body head first at a ball takes considerably skill, a lot of courage, (or at least a disregard for getting kicked in the head), and , I think, a dab of charisma. It is, after all, a spectacular, crowd-pleasing move.
The dive header is used on offense and defense, by forwards diving after balls they can't reach with their feet and by defenders making no-tomorrow attempts to intercept low balls.
The takeoff for a dive header may be single or double-leg, depending on the time you have available and the distance you have to cover. If standing or required to travel only a short distance to the ball, you'll use a double-leg takeoff. If on the move or required to cover a great distance you'll need the single-leg takeoff. The chief difference between a normal header takeoff and dive header takeoff is that in the dive header you need horizontal, not vertical power.
There are two types of dive headers, the torpedo header and the salamander header. In the torpedo header the approach and dive coincide exactly with the direction of the header. You want to throw yourself into a complete layout, cock your head, and kick your heels to assure heaving power. From this position, identical to the classic heading position except that you are prone instead of vertical, you snap your forehead at the ball as hard as you can. The salamander technique is used for a sideward header. It is the same as the normal vertical technique except that the bending and sideward twisting is coordinated with a horizontal rather than a vertical leap. Hence the salamander label.
The best landing after a dive headers is feet first, then rock in sequence over your thighs, stomach, chest and hands to dissipate the force of the landing. If you find yourself landing chest first then your best bet is to try to absorb the force of the fall with your hands.
In practicing dive headers start from a crouched position and concentrate on a proper landing. The dive header itself may involve total abandon but the landing doesn't have to. Get the feel of breaking the impact of your fall with your hands or with the feet-thighs-stomach-chest-hands sequence.You can serve the ball to yourself by just tossing it into the air ahead of you and heading it on the bounce. As you improve you can graduate to dive heading from a semi-crouch and then a standing position, finally working your way to practicing the move with teammates in all-out game condition situations. One other tip: Practice on soft ground at first if you can.
by Hubert Vogelsinger
Either you get it out or they get it in.
Thats the one unnerving, irreducible fact of all defensive play. One of the best ways of getting the ball out of danger is the defensive or 'clearance' header. Unlike a head shot on goal, the defensive header emphasizes power over accuracy. When youve got to get that ball away from your goalmouth, accuracy may be nice but height and distance are essential.
The clearance header is used chiefly in cutting off high crosses. It requires that you get up high and head the ball powerfully, even when working against aggressive opponents.
One advantage to a defensive head is that you will almost always be facing the ball and so will have a slight edge over the attacker who may be trying to play the ball as it comes from the side or behind. However, you will sometimes he backpedaling as the ball goes into the air, thus giving you the problem of getting lift and power despite your running backward or sideways.
There are two positions from which you will head the ball out-either with your feet on the ground or off the ground.
When you have the luxury of clearing with both feet on the ground, you should start the heading action down in your legs. Fight to get into position where you can shift your trunk backward and forward without danger of imbalance. Keep your eyes on the ball, your trunk bent back, and your forehead drawn back. Face the ball squarely. Now drive off your back foot and throw your forehead at the ball, straightening your body at the same time. Your leg drive should cause your hips, trunk, and head to move forward in whip-like sequence. Try to hit the ball at your hairline and drive through the lower half of the ball to get it into the air and out of danger. Its tougher when you have to get both feet off the ground and find yourself crowded as well. Here, timing is important but determination is the clincher. You've got to want it.
Don't wait for the ball and don't draw your head down into your shoulders. This is no time for self-preservation. Try to jump first so the attacker can't block you from the ball.
Youll likely only have time for a two or three-step run-up. Make the last stride long while gathering your body for the jump. Rock over your well-bent takeoff foot and drive forward. Kick both heels well backward and upward so your body is arched in the classic header position.
When the ball gets just above your chest, jack-knife forward and get that hair line on the lower half of the ball. Your body thrust ensures power and the angle of your head determines the height. You need both.
Any heading drill is bound to improve all your heading skills but there is one drill in particular that is helpful for defensive headers. Have several teammates, scattered around the field, serve balls to you as you head them out. Vary the frequency and angles of the serves. Work for height and distance. And remember, either you get it out or they get it in.
by Hubert Vogelsinger
You wont' always have enough space or time to afford yourself the luxury of playing a ball to your feet before passing it. Once in a while you're going to have to pass a ball that comes to you in the air. A volley lob pass with the inside of the foot is one of the quickest, safest ways to do this.
Technically, the move is much like the push pass, except that the ball is off the ground. But the beauty is its tactical application. It is a little like football's screen pass - just a nice easy toss over the heads of the blitzing linebackers into the arms of an open receiver. I like to see quarterbacks do it. I love to see soccer players do it. It's a heads-up play.
To make a good volley lob pass, make sure your passing foot is raised to the level of the ball, Lifting your leg will cause your trunk to fall slightly back and sideways to maintain balance. If the ball is above waist level you'll have to run completely sideways in order to raise your foot high enough to play the ball. You want your leg bent at the knee with the lower part of the leg almost at right angles to the thigh. You make the pass using a short, stabbing action with your lower leg. Don't try to swing the whole leg like it were some sort of bionic club. Just snap the lower leg out to send the ball to its target.
Obviously the position of the inside of your foot on impact is vital to proper direction. The ball can only go in the direction your foot is pointed, much as golf ball will only go in the direction of the club face. Thus, you must keep the horizontal plane of your foot adjusted to the angle of the approaching ball and the angle of the intended pass.
Only practice will give you the sensitive touch you need to guarantee accuracy.
In lobbing the ball up over your opponents - a la the screen pass - remember to keep the inside of your foot facing upward and swing your leg up.
Even in playing a ball to a teammate's feet 1 advise inclining the foot slightly upward to make the ball travel in a gently arc. This kind of pass is much easier to receive than a hard line drive. You can practice a modified version of the volley lob pass by having a teammate toss the ball to you so that it lands in front of you and play it back on the bounce. After you get the feel of it, have your partner toss the ball around knee height and you volley it right back to him. As you get better try varying your return passes. One time give him a gently pass to his feet. The next time practice lobbing it over the head of an imaginary opponent.
BY Hubert Vogelsinger
You should learn to do more with your body than just play the ball. Judicious use of your body can be a tactical asset. Take screening, for example. Screening means keeping your body between the ball and your opponent. It enables you to 1.) protect the ball, 2.) impede the tackle, and 3.) gain time for a teammate to move into position to receive a pass.
The move is legal as long as you honestly try to play the ball rather than simply obstruct your opponent. That means that you have to keep the ball within playing distance.
While screening a ball doesnt take a lot of finesse it does require a good measure of courage and confidence to face up (or should I say back up) to an aggressive tackle from behind.
Looking at the screen from your opponents point of view, the only way he can get the ball from you is either by means of a well-timed tackle or by going around you and challenging you face to face. Getting around is nearly impossible since you need only make a quarter-turn, or series of turns to maintain position between the ball and him. So he will most likely try the tackling route in which case you will have to be careful to maintain good body balance while screening.
Other than balance you just need reasonable dribbling skills (to keep the ball close enough to control) and the ability to keep adapting your body position according to your opponents efforts to move in for the ball. Unlike more mechanical skills the true skill of screening can best be practiced against real-life opponents.
In the beginning it may be necessary to ask the player you practice with to offer only token resistance until, as you get better, there can be a true fight for the ball. Working with a teammate, you take turns with one of you dribbling and screening while the other offers a challenge from the rear or from either side.
As you become more proficient at screening you can make your task harder by restricting yourself to a certain small area or by trying to keep possession of the ball for a predetermined length of time. Or you might try to see how many times you can touch the ball before the challenger dispossesses you.
If there is no one around to work with it is possible to work on screening by yourself. Simply run with the ball and imagine an opponent approaching from either right of left. Screen the ball by using the foot on the opposite side. In other words, if you imagine your opponent coming from your left, then you want to lead the ball with your right foot as you move to screen.
Screening is not an end in itself. It is usually the prelude to a feint, pass, or shot. But a good screen enhances these moves by gaining you the time and space to make them. In soccer, time and space are a bargain at any price.