Striking the Ball on your Laces

02/08/18
It is one of the most difficult, yet important, skills in the game. Maintaining control of the ball is vital. Controlling the ball correctly can lead to all sorts of positive outcomes but a heavy touch that is bouncing around out of control can cause plenty of danger to your team.

When watching the World Cup you could see just how good the professionals are with their first touch. At the very top of the game, with huge amounts of pressure on them, they are able to control the ball almost perfectly in the most difficult of situations. Sure, there are times where mistakes are made, and when they are, we notice them as it is so rare!

Left foot and right foot, with great composure, the professionals would place the first touch in front of them, allowing them to move forward with the ball. It wasn't stuck under their feet, it was ahead of them, giving them space to step forward and progress up the pitch. When receiving the ball the players were always prepared, they had a bounce in their movement, ready to take the weight off the pass by withdrawing their foot when contact is made. They were never standing still waiting for the ball, instead they were prepared, prepared to move their feet to get in the best position to have the perfect first touch.

It is a hard skill to learn, and practise, however, you can do so. Work with a friend, team-mate, or coach, and focus on controlling the ball with different parts of the foot. The key to it is repetition (as with all techniques in football), the more you practise the better you will become at it.

One of the first technical aspects that a scout looks for when assessing a player is their first touch. Can the player control it under pressure, keep possession, place the ball in a position where they can progress forwards? There are all sorts of situations, but the scouts look for confidence on the ball and the ability to keep it.

It is also one of those skills that you can always get better at, giving you fantastic opportunity to develop and hone your technique.

A wall, and a ball, will give you the perfect conditions to train. Pass the ball against the wall with varying speeds, spins, and techniques, replicating passes that your team-mates might give you during a game. The more you use the wall, the better you will become.

Try these first touch wall-ball techniques:
The key to this is practise. You can make your first touch as good as you want it to be. It's hard, a very difficult skill, but you can do it. It may take some players much longer to develop their touch to a level that they want to be at, however, it will come, as long as you persevere and keep going. Always make sure to use both feet and enjoy the training that you do. If you enjoy it and put the effort in then you will succeed.

Make that first touch as good as you want it to be and realise your potential.

Practising regularly will give you gradual improvements and you will notice your team-mates growing confidence in you. When you begin to receive the ball in tight situations, feeling comfortable, you will have nothing to fear. Possessing a good first touch provides the platform for you to perform to a high level and keep your team in the ascendancy.

The Importance of Ball Mastery