Football Essential Skills: How to dribble a football

Some of the most spectacular goals in football history have been a result of outstanding dribbling skills. Dribbling is the art of moving the ball past your opponent without them being able to intercept the ball, allowing you to maintain possession while travelling. Perfecting your dribbling technique is essential to winning games, as the skill allows you to break past the opposition’s defence to score those crucial goals.

Learning and understanding the basic skills in football are fundamental to excelling in the sport, with dribbling being a core skill that all football players must learn in order to become successful. Although learning this new skill may seem overwhelming at first, with consistent practice and determination, you can successfully counter the opposition’s defence. Read on as we discuss the step-by-step process of dribbling a football and helpful tips that will help you perfect this skill.

How do you dribble a football step by step?

Developing your basic dribbling technique is the first step in learning how to take control of the ball so that you can maintain good movement while effectively travelling downfield. How you control the ball with your feet is everything, and it can be broken down into the following simple steps:

1. Make contact with the ball. Each time you make contact with the ball is referred to as a ‘touch’. Using gentle touches often will allow you to get control over the ball’s movement and will help to advance your skill quickly.

2. Use multiple areas of your feet. As you practise, you will learn to use multiple areas of your feet to control the ball in different ways. The inside and outside of your feet are used to help you control the direction, turn the ball around and cut around defenders. The top or laces of your foot are used to push the ball forward with speed as you’re running. The sole of your foot is used to stop the ball from sharp turns and faking out an opposing player.

3. Point your toes down. When dribbling, the key is to point your toes down and keep your ankle locked as you move, pushing off the ground with your supporting foot to help you gain distance. Ensure you maintain an athletic position, with your knees slightly bent, landing on the ball of your foot each time for better speed and agility.

4. Keep the ball close. By keeping the ball close, you will have greater control when passing it back and forth between the insides of your feet and it will put you in a good position to change direction faster if needed. Keeping the ball close will also make it harder for defenders to intercept the ball.

5. Move with the same foot forward. Leading the ball with the edge of the same foot will help you keep the ball close at all times as you’re running downfield, giving you the most speed and balance.

6. Keep the ball in your peripheral vision. At first, you may use most of your field of vision as you’re developing your dribbling skills, however, as you practise you should try to keep the ball in the bottom of your peripheral vision. This will help you maintain awareness of the rest of the field, helping you to more easily see holes in defences, open teammates to pass to and the best scoring positions.

How do I get better at dribbling in football?

Learning how to properly control and manipulate the ball with dribbling is the key to perfecting your fundamental football skills and can help set you up for great passes and shots on target. Here are a few helpful dribbling tips that can support your practice.

Tap the ball, don’t kick it.

Aim to tap the ball with your foot as you dribble, if you kick it, it may create too much space for someone on the opposing team to steal it. Instead, use frequent taps to allow you to stay agile and remain in control, keeping the ball glued to your foot. This allows you to keep the ball close, putting you in the perfect position to change direction quickly and stay unpredictable to your opponent.

Protect the ball with your body.

The secret to successfully dribbling is to keep the football close at all times. Many of the world’s most famous footballers keep the ball close to their body as they move to allow them constant contact and control with the ball. When a defender gets too close, make sure you shield the ball with your whole body to protect the ball. Use your arms, legs, and shoulders to keep the defender away from the ball, keeping it on the foot furthest from the defender. 

Change pace. 

Switching up the pace at which you dribble will prevent you from getting caught out by a defender as your movements will be unpredictable. Alternating your speed while dribbling will throw defenders off balance and make you more challenging to play against. 

Practice makes perfect.

The best way to build up your close-dribbling technique is to practise your techniques over and over. There are a few football dribbling techniques you can practise that will help you put these moves into motion during your next match.

  • Close Control Dribbling: This helps you to learn how to control the ball in tight spaces. Simply tap the ball with the inside of your feet for 30 seconds, repeatedly. After a while, you can move on to tapping the ball with both the inside and outside of your feet to learn a better range of motion.
  • Change Direction: This drill helps to develop your creativity in getting the ball away from a defender. The best way to do this is to scatter cones across the field and practise snaking the ball between the cones without touching any of them. Try to use different parts of your foot to change the direction of the ball, pretending that the cones are opposing players you’re trying to avoid.
  • Speed Dribbling: This technique is used to teach you how to control the ball while gaining speed. Start at the halfway line on the pitch and begin tapping the ball forward, then start to run in a straight line, tapping the ball with the top of your foot with each step you take. Make sure you don’t let the ball get too far out in front of you. Begin with a moderate pace until you approach a certain part of the pitch then increase your speed.

Make sure you have the right kit.

Ensuring you’re dressed in the best football kit will help support you in your dribbling practice by making sure you’re comfortable and have the full range of movement you need to achieve this technique successfully. Here at Avec Sport, we offer a wide range of teamwear for men, women and juniors that includes the very best performance-focused sportswear, from customisable jerseys and matching football shorts to team socks, training jackets and more.

Go from football novice to pro with Avec Sport

Perfect the art of dribbling and improve your football skills by taking on board our dribbling tips and adding these drills into your training routine. Head on over to our other essential football skills blog, how to shoot a football to combine these key football techniques and take your gameplay to the next level.