Juggling a soccer ball is not only a great way to improve your soccer skills but it’s also great fun to watch and perform yourself. If you’re a beginner to juggling a soccer ball or you just want to improve your skills, in this article I’m going to give you all the information you need to be comfortable juggling a soccer ball.
There are 7 stages to learning to juggle a soccer ball.
- Get comfortable juggling the ball with one foot
- Get comfortable juggling the ball with your other foot
- Get comfortable juggling the ball with one thigh/knee
- Get comfortable juggling the ball with your other thigh/knee
- Get comfortable juggling the ball with your head
- Combine steps 1 – 5
- Practice, practice, practice!
We’ll break down each of these steps below and I’ll give you a drill for each one to go away and practice. But first I want to go over why learning to juggle a soccer ball is so important for any soccer player who wants to be a better player.
Why Learning to Juggle a Soccer Ball Is Important
The record for the longest time continuously controlling, or juggling, a soccer ball is 21 hours and 1 minute. [source]
This record held by Abraham Muñoz was completed on May 20, 2010, in New York. This is a long time to continuously juggling a soccer ball without it touching the ground.
Now, while you or I may never reach this level of ability to juggle a ball, there are 3 reasons why learning to juggle a soccer ball is still important for any soccer player.
The reasons why learning to juggle a soccer ball is important are:
- It builds a player’s confidence with the ball
- It improves a player’s first touch and control of the ball
- Improves a player’s focus
It builds confidence
Learning to juggle a soccer ball is a great way for a player to build confidence with the ball because it gives a player multiple touches of the ball in a short space of time.
The importance of regularly touching the ball cannot be overstated in any player’s development. There are even entire soccer training courses built around it, such as this one from Renegade Soccer that gives you a huge amount of drills and training from only $10 a month.
The more times a player touches the ball the more comfortable they become with knowing how the ball will respond to each touch. Will it go high or low? Will it move fast or slow? As a player starts to notice these little differences each time they touch the ball they learn how to optimize what they are doing, improve the results of their touch, and improve their skills and abilities.
Improves a player’s first touch
Learning to juggle a soccer ball also improves a player’s first touch and control of the ball.
There isn’t much more important in a soccer game than a player’s first touch. If you’re unsure what I mean by “first touch” then click here to read another of my articles explaining what it is and why it’s so important. But basically the first touch is how a player receives the ball when it first arrives with them.
If a player has a great first touch then everything you do after that will be better. When a player focusses on their juggling and practices as often as they can they are indirectly working on their first touch and ball control.
With every touch of the ball, they make they are developing their skills in this area. Learning and adapting their movements based on how the ball reacts and learning to direct the ball to go where they want it to. This will make any player better.
Improves a players focus
Juggling also improves the player’s focus. If you take your eye off the ball for even a second while you are juggling then you can lose track of the ball, lose control and the ball will hit the floor before you can do anything about it. Juggling a soccer ball forces you to be focused.
Every soccer player needs to learn how to be focused when they have control of the ball or when they are playing a soccer game. The movement of the ball can change in a moment and if a player isn’t focused on what is happening then the game, and the ball, can pass them by.
Juggling a Soccer Ball Does Help
Most people’s objection to the importance of learning to juggle a soccer ball is based on the fact that you rarely see a soccer player juggling a soccer ball during a soccer game. And this is true. It is rare to see a player juggle a soccer ball during a game. Although it does happen occasionally as you can see in the video below.
But as we’ve just shown above juggling a soccer ball helps because it makes the player juggling the ball a much better all-round player.
There’s no doubt that it can take a long time to learn how to juggle a soccer ball confidently, especially when you are first starting out. The amount of time it will take depends on the individual and how much hard work and practice time they are willing to put into learning.
But if you are willing to put the time and practice in, and are prepared to work hard at it you will see a difference in a relatively short period of time, and not only that, but you will see your all-round soccer abilities and skills improve along with your juggling skills.
How to Get Better at Juggling a Soccer Ball
Now we are getting to the most important part of this article and the most likely reason you came here today – how do you juggle a soccer ball?
There are some people out there who think they can’t juggle a soccer ball. And unless you have a physical reason of some sort prohibiting you from doing this then the main reason why most people can’t juggle a soccer ball is because they haven’t put enough time and practice into learning and refining this skill.
Any and every soccer skill, including juggling the ball, requires a player to practice as often as possible if they want to see an improvement. Practicing consistently is the most important lesson I want to leave you with from this article.
I remember when I was younger spending hours in an empty room of our house simply practicing my juggling. (For those of you worried about me kicking a soccer ball indoors, don’t worry! When I was inside I always used a small foam soccer ball so I didn’t cause any damage!)
My point is that even if you don’t start off following the correct techniques or drills if you consistently practice juggling you will naturally improve and refine your skills every day and consistently improve.
So, let’s look at each area now and I’ll walk you through how to juggle a soccer ball. As I mentioned at the top of this article, the first 2 steps of learning how to juggle are to become comfortable juggling with your feet.
How to Juggle a 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.
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 drill you should work on:
Drill for juggling a soccer ball with your feet
The best drill to start with is this:
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 is not what we are 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 onto the next drill.
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 as receiving the ball from a height is a common feature in any game and it is an advantage to become comfortable with this.
How to Juggle a Soccer Ball With You Thighs or Knees
Number 3 and 4 stage of learning how to juggle a soccer ball is about getting comfortable juggling the ball with your 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.
Your thigh is a muscle and therefore softer than your knee which is bone. This makes your thigh much better at cushioning the ball and giving you more control over the ball.
This is also why it is important to feel comfortable juggling the ball with your thigh as there are many times in a soccer game where it’s an advantage to be comfortable using your thigh to receive the ball as your thigh has a much larger surface area than your foot and gives a greater target for the ball to land on.
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 onto the next drill.
Give yourself time with this one. It can take a bit longer to master than juggling with your feet. 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
The fifth step in how to juggle is to become 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.
The important thing to remember when heading a soccer ball while juggling is that the contact should be between your forehead and the ball and not any other part of your head.
You should also 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, but 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 onto 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 as well as enabling you to head the ball more than once!
Combine Juggling With Your Feet, Thighs, and Head
Now, this is where it really starts to become fun! Mastering the art of juggling the ball with all parts of your body consecutively is why most people learn how to juggle a soccer ball.
Start slow. Start by combining just 2 parts of the body before combining them all. Build up what you are confident with before moving on. This next drill will help you do this.
Here’s the drill you should work on:
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 onthe 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 this steps as often as you can increasing the amount of kicks/touches between catching the ball.
Feel free to begin using different combinations than the one’s I’ve mentioned above. As you get more confident you may choose to move the ball between your foot and your head missing out your thigh all together. Or maybe you want to move the ball from your thigh to your head and then back to your foot. The options are endless! Feel free to experiment yourself.
How to Juggle a Soccer Ball for a Long Time
Once you have mastered the skills of juggling as I’ve shown above there is no end to where you stop or how long you carry on juggling for. 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 regularly practice juggling with a soccer ball. Work on juggling drills as often as possible and preserve even when you are finding it hard. The only way to increase your juggling time is to keep practicing which will increase 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 use a specific fitness-focused training app such as this one from Aaptiv or get hold of a fitness tracker such as this one from Fittrack to keep you focussed and on track.
How to Juggle a Without Shoes
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 ar home or with your friends on the beach!
There are 5 steps to learning how to juggle without shoes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Keep your knee bent each time you make contact with the ball. A straight leg doesn’t give you the control you need.
- Practice, practice, practice!
Hopefully, you now feel far more confident about how to juggle a soccer ball than you did when you started this article. As I mentioned throughout this, the most important thing you can do is to keep practicing. All the knowledge in the world about juggling a soccer ball is useless unless you actually get out there are put it in to practice. I know you can do it!
If you’ve mastered this click here to check out my post of the 10 Best Soccer Tricks and Skills – I know you’ll enjoy mastering these also!
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