Learning how to juggle a soccer ball is much easier if you follow the advice of someone who has already mastered the skill. So, if you’re a beginner at juggling a soccer ball or you want to improve your skills, in this article, I will give you a step-by-step guide to show you how it’s done.
The key to learning how to juggle a soccer ball effectively is to become comfortable juggling the ball with your feet and to commit to practicing this skill for at least 20 minutes every day for a month. This will give you a strong foundation for being competent at juggling a soccer ball.
So, let’s look at each step now, and I’ll walk you through the process of learning how to juggle a soccer ball.
Step 1: Stand on the Balls of Your Feet With Your Knees Bent
The foundation of successfully juggling a soccer ball is to ensure your body is in the correct position.
For the duration of the time you are juggling a ball, stand on the balls of your feet with your knees bent. It would help if you also kept your head leaning slightly over the ball, looking down at your feet.
Keep your arms bent with your hands out at 45 degrees to your body and position your feet approximately the width of a soccer ball apart.
This position is perfect for maintaining your balance while you practice. As a result, you will be less likely to lose your balance and constantly ready to respond to the ball’s movement.
Step 2: Drop the Ball, Let It Bounce, Then Kick It Back Up
We’ll start by learning how to juggle with one foot.
The best way to start learning to juggle is to start with your dominant foot and then move to your weaker foot when you are comfortable with your first foot.
- Hold the ball out in front of you at chest height and drop it to the ground.
- Straight after the ball bounces and is descending again, use your foot to kick the ball straight back up and catch it with your hands.
- Make sure that you aim to kick the ball with the laces of your shoes and not your toes. Your laces are where you are aiming for, as this will give you the most control over the ball.
You also want to ensure that you keep your toes curled up and your ankle is locked as you kick the ball.
Repeat this step until you can consistently catch the ball and it starts to feel comfortable.
Top Tip – If the ball is bouncing too high or is hard to control with your foot, deflate the ball a little. This will reduce the height the ball bounces of your foot and hopefully make it easier to control.
Step 3: Gradually Increase the Number of Times You Kick the Ball
As soon as you feel comfortable with the first step, add in more kicks between catching the ball.
For example, instead of kicking it once and catching it, kick it two times then catch it. Then, when you are comfortable doing this, kick the ball three times, then catch it.
Work your way up until you are comfortable kicking the ball at least 10 times in a row with your foot between catches.
Here is a good stage to start learning to put some backspin on the ball as you kick it up. Backspin will help you control the ball and keep the ball near your body as you juggle.
When you can do this, you are ready to move on to the next drill.
Step 4: Drop the Ball and Kick It Back With Your Weaker Foot
Now you’re going to repeat steps 2 and 3 but switch to using your other foot.
Follow the process in the same way as before.
When you are comfortable kicking the ball at least ten times in a row with your foot between catches, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Step 5: Kick the Ball Between Your Feet Before Catching It
The next step in learning how to juggle a soccer ball is to begin kicking the ball between your feet before catching it.
Juggling a ball with your feet is the foundational part of juggling a soccer ball. This is because 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 and you will begin to see the multiple benefits juggling a ball has for soccer.
For this step, drop the ball in front of you as in the previous steps. But instead of kicking the ball straight back up, kick it up and toward your other foot. (It doesn’t matter which foot kicks the ball first.)
Then kick the ball back up with your second foot and catch it.
So the juggling sequence should be: Drop (the ball) – bounce (on the floor) – kick (with one foot) – kick (with the other foot) – and catch.
As you gain confidence doing this, increase the number of kicks between feet before you catch the ball.
Once you can comfortably do 10 kicks between your feet before catching the ball, you are ready to move on to the next step.
Step 6: Focus On Controlling the Height of Your Kick
At this point, I want you to repeat steps 2 -5 but focus on controlling the height of the ball as you kick it.
You should aim for the ball to travel up to waist height before descending again. Ideally, you don’t want to kick the ball higher than chest height.
The reason for focusing on this is to make it as easy as possible for you to control the ball and improve your juggling abilities.
If the ball travels too high, it can be hard to control again. On the other hand, if you don’t kick the ball high enough, you have no time to react to the ball’s movement.
Improving in this area will be key to becoming competent at juggling for a long time.
Practice this skill until you are comfortable with it.
Step 7: Drop the Ball Onto Your Thigh and Catch It
Now we are going to start learning how to juggle a soccer ball with your thigh or knee.
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 gives you more control over the ball.
- Starting with the ball in your hands, gently drop the ball up in front of you.
- As the ball comes down, bring your thigh up to meet the ball.
- Aim 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 away from you.
Getting the timing of this right can take a while, so keep practicing until you get it right.
Repeat this until you feel comfortable, then switch to your other leg.
As soon as you are confident using both thighs, 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 ten times in a row with your thighs between catches. When you can do this, you are ready to move on to the next step.
Step 8: Throw the Ball up and Return the Ball With Your Head
Step 8 in how to juggle a soccer ball is to become comfortable juggling the ball with your head.
If you’re at all worried about this hurting your head, check out my article – Does a Soccer Header Hurt? How to minimize any pain. I wrote it to explain the best technique for heading a soccer ball. 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.
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.
To juggle a soccer ball with your head, begin by gently throwing the ball up in front of you, approximately 3 feet (1m) above your head.
As the ball descends, use your neck muscles to move your forehead towards the ball. Aim to make contact at the moment your neck is fully extended.
Head the ball straight up towards the sky. As the ball comes back down, catch it in your hands and then repeat.
Start adding 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.
Step 9: Bring Each Element Together by Following a Set Pattern
Now, this is where it really starts to become fun!
Mastering the art of juggling the ball with all parts of your body is why most people learn to juggle a soccer ball.
Start by combining just two parts of the body before combining them all.
I recommend following a pattern to improve your control.
For example, you could follow a pattern such as: “foot – foot – thigh -thigh – catch“. (Each mention of a body part represents a kick of the ball with that part of your body.)
Or: “head – head – foot – foot – catch“.
Practice this until you are confident before moving on.
You could then juggle with all parts of your body using a pattern such as: “foot – thigh – head – thigh – foot” or “foot – foot – thigh -thigh – head – head – thigh – thigh – foot – foot“.
Finding a rhythm with the ball helps you learn to control the ball in different situations. For example, if a player has a bad touch, they should try to recover it rather than starting over.
Feel free to begin using different combinations than the ones I’ve mentioned above. The options are endless! Feel free to experiment.
Step 10: Commit to Practicing Juggling a Soccer Ball for 20 Minutes a Day
The main reason why most people can’t juggle a soccer ball is that they haven’t put enough time and practice into learning and refining this skill.
Any soccer skill, including juggling the ball, requires a player to practice as often as possible if they want to see an improvement.
Consistently practicing is the most important lesson I want to leave you with from this article.
To consistently improve your juggling skills, commit to practicing for at least 20 minutes a day for up to one month.
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 following the correct techniques or drills, you will naturally improve and refine your skills every day and consistently improve if you regularly practice.
Know you know the basics of how to juggle a soccer ball you may want to follow some specific soccer juggling drills to improve further.
Or you may want to learn how to juggle a soccer ball without shoes!