Young players need to learn how to dribble within a variety of game situations.
They have to learn how to dribble forward unopposed, how to change speed and direction, how to shield the ball from opponents, how to dribble past an opponent, how to dribble to get away from pressuring situations, and how to dribble with the entirety of their foot.
The ability to dribble is absolutely crucial since dribbling is the foundation and preparation for the other fundamental skills of soccer, such as receiving, passing and shooting.
A creative dribbler will be able to give himself more time or room to pass or shoot.
The ability to dribble also helps maintain possession of the ball. Whatever the situation, if a player is comfortable with a ball at his feet then the game becomes much easier and more fun.
• Small, soft touches on the ball.
• Keep your head up while dribbling.
• Use both feet.
• Throw the defender off balance.
• Dribble under pressure.
• Change direction and speed.
If all the U5-U8 teams are focusing on the same curriculum, as it is suggested in this manual, hopefully all the kids will be learning specific technique which is age-appropriate – for a 5 to 8 year old player.
If we want our players to fully master the art of dribbling, the following conditions must exist:
a) they must start learning to dribble early;
b) we must provide many opportunities for dribbling in practices and games, and
c) we must create the right game environment where players are not afraid to dribble.