5 Soccer Ball Juggling Drills to Improve Your Skills


Over the years, I’ve filled many hours practicing juggling a soccer ball. Today I want to share the drills that really helped me improve my skill in this area. Whether you’re a beginner or want to get better, you’ll find some helpful techniques here.

To get better at juggling with a soccer ball, you need to follow the best techniques and practice regularly. Focussing on following specific drills will help you consistently improve and master the skill of juggling a soccer ball.

In this guide, we’ll start with improving your juggling skills using your feet, then focus on your knees and head. Next, I’ll share a great drill for combining these areas and then end with a drill helping you learn to juggle without shoes.

Let’s get started.

How to Juggle a Soccer Ball With Your Feet

Drill 2 - juggling soccer ball with your feet

Juggling a ball with your feet is the foundational part of juggling a soccer ball. Your feet touch the ball more than any other part of your body.

The quicker you can become comfortable juggling the ball with your feet, the quicker your juggling skills will improve.

In my article – How to Juggle a Soccer Ball in 10 Easy Steps (Beginner and Kid-Friendly), I take you through a step-by-step guide showing the best way to learn to juggle a ball.

For this drill, we’re just going to focus on your feet.

The best way to start learning to juggle with your feet is to start with your dominant foot and then move to your weaker foot when you are comfortable with your first foot.

Here’s the first drill you should work on:

Drill for Juggling a Soccer Ball With Your Feet

Step 1: Begin by holding the ball in your hands. Position your feet approximately the width of a soccer ball apart and balance on the balls of your feet as if you were ready to receive a pass.

Step 2: Drop the ball to your foot or gently throw the ball up in front of you.

As the ball reaches your foot, kick the ball straight back up and catch it with your hands.

Make sure that you are aiming to kick the ball with your toes and not the laces of your soccer cleats. Your toes are where you are aiming for, as this will give you the most control over the ball.

Kicking the ball with your laces is all about power, which we are not looking for here.

Step 3: Repeat steps one and two until you feel comfortable with this.

As soon as you do, start to add in more kicks between catching the ball. Work your way up until you are comfortable kicking the ball at least 10 times in a row with your feet between catches.

When you can do this with both feet, you are ready to move on to the next drill.

Extra Tip

Once you are comfortable doing this, start kicking the ball higher into the air, about head level, and practice controlling the ball from a height.

Receiving the ball from a height is a common feature in any game. It is an advantage to become comfortable with this.

How to Juggle a Soccer Ball With You Thighs or Knees

Drill 2 - juggling soccer ball with your knees

Next, we’ll look at a drill for juggling with your knees or thighs.

Although many people refer to this part of juggling as using your knees, the reality is that you should be using your thigh and not your knees.

Here’s the drill you should work on:

Drill for Juggling a Soccer Ball With Your Thighs

Step 1: Again, starting with the ball in your hands, your feet approximately the width of a soccer ball apart, and balancing on the balls of your feet, gently throw the ball up in front of you.

Step 2: As the ball comes down, bring your thigh up to meet the ball. The aim here is for your thigh to make contact with the ball when your leg is at 90 degrees, or a right angle, to your body.

Making contact with the ball in this position pushes the ball straight back up rather than at an awkward angle where you have to chase after it, or it hits you in the face!

Getting the timing of this right can take a while, so keep practicing until you get it right.

Step 3: Repeat steps one and two until you feel comfortable with this.

As soon as you do start to add in more hits of the ball with your thigh between catching the ball. Work your way up until you are comfortable hitting the ball at least 10 times in a row with your thigh between catches.

When you can do this with both legs, you are ready to move on to the next drill.

Extra Tip

Give yourself time with this one. It can take a bit longer to master than juggling with your thighs. If you get frustrated, just take a break and come back to it later. You will get there; it just takes time and practice.

How to Juggle a Soccer Ball With Your Head

Drill 3 - juggling soccer ball with your head

The next drill is about becoming comfortable juggling the ball with your head.

If you’re at all worried about the ball hurting when you head it, click here to go to an article I wrote explaining the best technique for heading a soccer ball to minimize any possible pain. It should help.

When heading a soccer ball while juggling, the critical thing to remember is that the contact should be between your forehead and the ball and not any other part of your head.

Always move your head towards the ball rather than letting the ball hit you. This enables you to put power and direction behind your header and should make it more comfortable.

Here’s the drill you should work on:

Drill for Juggling a Soccer Ball With Your Head

Step 1: As before, start with the ball in your hands, your feet approximately the width of a soccer ball apart, and balancing on the balls of your feet, gently throw the ball up in front of you.

Make sure you throw it a bit higher this time—approximately 3 feet (1m) above your head.

Step 2: As the ball comes back down, use your neck muscles to move your forehead towards the ball, aiming to make contact at the moment your neck is fully extended.

Step 3: Aim to head the ball as straight up towards the sky above your head as possible. As the ball comes back down, catch it in your hands and then repeat.

Step 4: Repeat steps 1, 2, and 3 until you feel comfortable with this.

As soon as you do, start to add in more hits of the ball with your head between catching the ball.

Work your way up until you are comfortable heading the ball at least 10 times in a row between catches.

When you can do this comfortably, you are ready to move on to the next drill.

Really focus on the direction of the soccer ball when you head it. This is probably the most important part of this drill, as being able to control where the ball is going shows that you are in control of the ball and enables you to head the ball more than once!

Combine Juggling With Your Feet, Thighs, and Head

Now, let’s start combining each of these aspects of juggling.

Here’s the drill you should work on:

Drill for Juggling With Feet, Thigh, and Head

Step 1: As always, start with the ball in your hands, your feet approximately the width of a soccer ball apart, and balancing on the balls of your feet, and gently throw the ball up in front of you.

Step 2: Using either foot, kick the ball twice but on the second kick, set the ball up to land on the thigh of that same leg.

Step 3: Use your thigh to knock the ball up twice, and on the second time you make contact with the ball, allow it to drop to your foot, where you will kick it two times again before catching the ball.

Step 4: Repeat this drill with both legs until you are comfortable with it. As you feel more confident, add in more kicks between catching the ball.

Step 5: Now, it’s time to include your head. Begin again at step 1 but after completing step 2, knock the ball up high enough to be able to use your head.

Step 6: Knock the ball up twice with your head before allowing it to drop back down and catch it. Now you are using all the parts of your body!

Step 7: Repeat these steps as often as possible, increasing the number of kicks/touches between catching the ball.

Extra Tip

Feel free to begin using different combinations than the ones I’ve mentioned above.

As you get more confident, you may choose to move the ball between your foot and your head, missing out on your thigh altogether.

Or maybe you want to move the ball from your thigh to your head and then back to your foot. Feel free to experiment.

How to Juggle a Soccer Ball for a Long Time

Drill 4 - juggling soccer ball for a long time

Once you have mastered juggling skills, as I’ve shown above, there is no end to where you stop or how long you carry on juggling.

And this is what will enable you to juggle for a long time.

To juggle a soccer ball for a long time, you will need to practice juggling with a soccer ball regularly.

Work on juggling drills as often as possible and persevere even when you are finding it hard.

The only way to increase your juggling time is to keep practicing, which will improve your skills in this area and enable you to keep going.

The only other thing I want to mention about juggling for a long time is that it requires a high level of fitness to keep going.

If you have the skills but not fitness, take the time to improve in this area. 

Maybe you want to look at my 30 Day Soccer Fitness guide to help you improve in this area.

It’s based on the same training techniques that the professionals use. So if it works for them, just imagine what it can do for you!

How to Juggle a Without Shoes

Drill 5 - juggling soccer ball barefoot

As a bonus tip, I wanted to show you the best way to juggle a soccer ball barefoot.

Although you obviously won’t use this during a soccer game, it can still be fun to know, and you can play around with this skill at home or with your friends on the beach!

I cover this in far more detail in my article – How to Juggle a Soccer Ball Without Shoes (5 Pro Tips), but here are the basics.

There are five steps to learning how to juggle without shoes.

  1. The ball should make contact with your toes when kicking the ball. The rest of your foot is too angular, which makes it much harder to control the ball.
  2. Aim for the center of the ball to make contact with your big toe. This has the biggest surface area giving you the most control over where the ball goes.
  3. Don’t allow your toes to be too floppy. This will cause the ball to move away from you, and you will be unable to keep up with the ball. Your toes should be soft to cushion the ball but sturdy enough to push the ball back up.
  4. Keep your knee bent each time you make contact with the ball. A straight leg doesn’t give you the control you need.
  5. Practice, practice, practice!

Next, find out why juggling is an effective drill for developing a soccer player’s skills or work on more soccer drills by following the selection in my article – 10 Best Soccer Drills: My Top Selection.

Ben

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Sign up to the yoursoccerhome.com newsletter here or check out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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