All budding young soccer players love to work on fancy dribble moves, deep passes, and powerful finishing shots. However, they often overlook one of the most important skills in soccer: trapping the ball. The fun components of soccer become irrelevant if a player hasn’t learned the fundamentals of trapping.
When soccer players receive passes, they must control the ball before making their next move. Trapping a soccer ball is the process of controlling the ball with one or more body parts, in order to position oneself to dribble, pass, or shoot. When a pass is made on the ground, players only have the option of trapping with their feet. But if the pass comes through the air, there are a number of ways to trap the ball with control. Here are 3 different ways you can use your body to trap a soccer ball, as well as the scenarios in which each will be most useful:
For each method, begin by tracking the ball through the air and positioning your body under the ball’s landing spot. Depending on the trajectory of the ball, use each method accordingly.
Inside of foot
Unlike the rest of the body parts on this list, the inside of your foot can be used to trap almost any type of pass. This should be the first method of trapping you learn and master.
As the ball begins to land, raise and twist your foot so that the inside of your foot is flat, facing up. Tap the ball with the inside of your foot and direct the ball a few feet in front of you, so you can take your next touch. Avoid kicking the ball with force, because you’ll lose control and possession.
Top of foot
Trapping the ball with the top of your foot is slightly more challenging than using the inside of your foot, but if done correctly, it will give you the most control following a pass. Use the top of your foot when the ball is in the air but isn’t coming at you with a lot of speed.
As the ball begins to land, raise your entire foot straight up. Instead of tapping the ball forward, like you would if you used the inside of your foot, cushion the ball with the top of your foot. As soon as you make contact with the ball, follow its path downwards with your foot to help decrease the ball’s speed. The motionless ball should fall by your feet.
Use your thigh to trap the ball when the ball is high in the air, and there aren’t any defenders in the area. Using your thigh will give you tremendous control over the ball, but if there are defenders, you may be vulnerable to losing the ball.
As the ball begins to land, lift your knee up so that your legs form a 90 degree angle through your knee and your thigh is flat. Let your thigh absorb the ball’s momentum, and let the ball fall to the ground. It’s important to keep your thigh flat, otherwise the ball won’t land by your feet and you’ll lose possession. If you try to trap with your knee when the ball is too low to the ground, you won’t be able to maintain the 90 degree angle with your legs, and the ball will bounce away from you.
Practice each of these techniques and you’ll be able to trap the ball in no time. With better control over the ball, all of your soccer skills will improve and you can help your team win more games!