coach soccer players to juggle the ball

You don't often see players juggling a ball during matches so why bother to coach this skill?

Players who can juggle have a better 'feel' for the ball than those who can't juggle. Also, their first touch is better. This makes them more composed when playing in matches and gives them more time to make the right decisions when under pressure.

In short, juggling the ball is a very useful skill to have.

A couple of facts that you might like to share with your players:

The men's record for ball juggling is held by Dan Magness, a 25 year old professional freestyler from Milton Keynes, England, who juggled a football for 24 hours (an estimated 250,000 touches!) using just his feet, legs, shoulders and head; he completed the feat - which took place in London's Covent Garden - on May 1, 2009.

The womens ball juggling record is held by ClŠudia Martini of Brazil, who accomplished 7 hours 5 minutes and 25 seconds on July 12, 1996.

How to teach ball juggling.

First, all soccer players, no matter how young or inexperienced, can learn to juggle this way. Even four and five year olds.

However, learning to juggling is not easy and it can be frustrating for your players if you work on it for too long at any one time. Just spend a few minutes on it in every practice and make a big fuss of players who show any sort of progress.

Use a slightly under inflated football or, even better, a futsal.

Show players how

Hold the ball in front of you with both hands, drop it onto a flat surface and let it bounce.

After the bounce, tap the ball back up to your hands with the shoelace or instep part of your foot. Catch the ball and repeat several times with each foot. This a "bounce-foot-catch".

Now, drop the ball for a bounce, tap it softly up towards your hands but let it drop for another bounce. Then tap it up to your hands for a catch. This a "bounce-foot-bounce-foot-catch". Repeat several times, again with both feet.

Next drop the ball directly to the foot for a tap back to the hands for a catch. This is a "foot-catch".

Now drop the ball to the foot for a tap but let it bounce, then use the foot to tap it up to the hands for a catch. (This is a "foot-bounce-foot-catch".)

Keep adding on touches and bounces alternating a foot touch with a bounce and ending with a catch. It's important to end with a catch to maintain control.

Finally drop the ball for a bounce, tap it up with the foot then before it bounces try to tap it up again for a catch. This is a "bounce-foot-foot-catch". If the last step in the process seems too difficult for a player, go back and work on the 1 touch exercises again with bounces in between.

Getting from 2 juggles to 3 is a very big step as well. Instead try to link lots of 2 juggles together with bounces. Try a bounce-foot-foot-bounce-foot-foot-catch. Later on link together several of these 2 touch juggles with a bounce between each one. In fact, see how long you can keep it going with 2 touches and then a bounce. Have a contest.

It won't be on the first day, but eventually you are ready to go for 3 juggles. Warm-up with single touches and work up to 2 touches linked together with bounces as I have described above. Then try a bounce followed by 3 foot juggles and a catch. (This is a bounce-foot-foot-foot-catch.)

When they've mastered these bounce-foot routines your players will be able to drop the ball directly onto their foot to start a juggle.

But be patient - it won't happen in one session!