At the Jose Alvalade Stadium on a hot night in August 2003, a raw and almost gawky 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo tormented Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in a pre-season friendly with his fiery pace and skill while playing for Sporting Lisbon. Donning the No. 28 jersey with braces on his teeth and blond highlights in his hair, Ronaldo had the air of a brash kid who just liked football, but his talent went beyond looks.
“This kid nobody knew tore us apart for the whole game. No one could get near him; he was amazing. At the start, no one had even heard of Ronaldo, but by the end, everyone knew about him,” United defender Mikael Silvestre had said after the game. That summer, United signed Ronaldo, and he became the phoenix we know today, thanks to sheer hard work and work he put on his skills.
The Juventus FC forward wasn’t always a goal-scorer; he started as a winger at United and had an array of dribbles to outfox and outclass any defender in the world. Loyalists still reckon that the creative No. 7 from Old Trafford is a better, more stylish, and complete player than anyone else who has ever graced the football pitch.
For dribbling like the former Real Madrid star, one needs to hone their skills with tireless training and tremendous hard work on the sidelines. Here, we take a look at drills that help improve soccer dribbling skills.
Closed-Space Dribbling Drill
Keep three cones in a triangle or line, spaced about 2 feet apart (depending on the height of the player)
Dribble the ball between the cones, using all surfaces of your feet swiftly
Perform quick touches to guide the ball around the cones in a controlled pattern
Duration: 10-15 minutes (daily)
Place five to 10 cones 5 yards apart each.
Swivel through the cones with the ball controlled by the inside of your feet
Repeat the drill, circling right and left around each cone, alternating between the inside and outside of your feet
Sets: 1×2-3 each set
Have someone toss a ball or bounce it off a wall
Pass back and forth 10-20 times, using the inside of your foot and then the laces
Repeat the pattern with both feet
Sets: 1×3-5 each set
Set up four cones in a box 5 yards in a square shape
Stand in the box with a ball and a partner
Dribble for the specified time while your partner tries to take the ball from you
The roles reverse as soon as one player snatches the ball from another
Sets/Duration: 2-3×30-60 sec.
Direction change on the dribble
Keep the ball at a comfortable distance
Use the inside and outside of either foot and dribble with your heads-up
Complete a quick skill in 1v1 situations and then accelerate away from the opponent
Sets: 60×2 sets (daily)
These are some basic drills that can help a player pick up more difficult dribbles with rigorous training. At the beginning of their careers, players must realize the value of training and practicing every small thing until it registers in their muscle memory.
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