How to Improve Your First Touch in Soccer

Fernando Torres snags a long pass from the air - (Photo:

A good first touch can be an absolute game changer in youth soccer.  Upon receiving the ball, one’s first touch directs not only where the player will run to, but also how much space they will have and what they can then do with the ball.  In a fast paced sport like soccer, and especially for indoor soccer, having a solid first touch is a necessity.  So if you are a coach trying to improve this skill for your next practice or are simply a player looking to develop a better first touch on the soccer ball, here are some tips to help you maintain a brilliant first touch:

Learn how to juggle.  This is the best practice for improving your touch on the ball and will go a long way in improving your first touch.  One point to remember though is to focus your efforts on using both of your feet and refrain from using your thighs too much.  Soccer is a sport played with the feet, not the thighs.  In practice, a coach can occasionally have players juggle for ten minutes or so, but this is a skill that should be practiced by players in their alone time and takes many hours to perfect.  Having a juggling contest during practice is a good way to persuade the kids to learn juggling on their own so they can come and place well in the contest with their team mates.

As important as juggling is, it is not the sole method that will help your players develop a first touch.  As one juggles a soccer ball, the ball usually comes from a distance of a few feet from the air, not rolling across twenty yards or soaring forty yards across the field.  Therefore, it doesn’t really capture the long distance nature of real game passing.

A good drill to do in practice is to pair off your players and have them pass the ball to each other.  After a few minutes increase the distance between them.  Continue to increase the distance to the point where they are blasting the ball a serious length.  This will help the players deal with varying types of balls received and will force them to work on their control in both passing and in their first touch.

Also, point out tips to the receiving players.  Often times this aspect of the game is ignored as focus is placed on the kicking player, but receiving the ball well is just as important.  A player will want to utilize the inside and outside of their foot and ease the power off the ball.  If your body is too stiff, the ball will bounce far away and you will probably lose possession in a game.  Be sure to give to the ball when receiving it to maintain close control.

A good drill to try out is to have a defender wait by the receiving player, and attack the ball after they make their first touch.  This will instill some competitiveness and place high importance upon receiving passes in a controlled way.

Other drills to focus on include passing in motion.  Have players make runs and send passes to them at varying distances to practice their first touch in a game-like setting at full speed.  The closer you can make a drill to the actual game, the better trained your players will become.

Improving that first touch takes some time.  But when your players excel receiving passes and start making plays, you will see the great importance and effect that it has upon a soccer game.  Be sure to start working on that first touch today!


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