The best way to improve in soccer is to play, play, and keep playing, but what about when you don’t have access to a soccer ball for a period of time? Even if you do, mixing things up is always a good idea. So for this article we will explore the question of how can you improve your soccer game without using a ball.
First, fitness work is crucial to improving your overall game so that is an obvious way you can get better without a ball.
In our article on why being soccer fit is so important, we explain that there are many specific benefits that you can see in many aspects of your performance, many of which you may not have thought of.
These include improving your touch, and even your communication (since if you’re too tired, you won’t have the energy to talk and share important information with your teammates).
So fitness work can be crucial, but there’s more than just jogging around at a single pace. Interval training, where you alternate between a short period of high intensity activity (like sprinting)
You can also train for the Man U, 120s or other fitness tests to give your conditioning work a concrete goal.
In addition to running, strength training with weights or just your body is another great way to improve your game. Focus on exercises that work the muscle groups that are most important for soccer, like your shoulders, core, and legs.
Improving Your Game By Watching and Thinking
You can also improve your game without even breaking a sweat. I’m talking about watching soccer with a specific focus on how you can get better.
When you watch, don’t just follow the ball. Instead, identify what players in your position do with and without the ball. How do they find space and get open? How do they receive and control the ball? How many touches do they take before passing it away? What do they do when their team loses the ball?
It’s a good idea to watch games yourself and even write down notes for yourself. You can also search YouTube to find compilations and explanations of a specific skill or concept. In addition to videos, if you’re an avid reader you can read and study soccer tactics books as well.
Once you’ve identified some new ideas and concepts to incorporate, do some self-reflection on how best to apply them to your own game. What elements do you already do well? Which may be the most difficult to do?
You can set individual soccer goals for yourself that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) which will help you stay on track and moving towards improving the areas that you’ve consciously chosen. (Ideally a coach or mentor can help you with this.) In addition, many players find exercises like visualization of positive performance helpful, and these are all ways that you can improve long-term.
How Practice Soccer with a Tennis Ball
We can draw a distinction between training without any type of ball, which we’ve been talking about, and practicing without a soccer ball.
For the latter, a good exercise you can use to improve your game is to use a tennis ball. How exactly can this improve your game?
In general, using a smaller ball helps you improve your control since it is more difficult and requires you to adjust more quickly. By the time a regulation-size soccer ball comes your way again, it will seem a lot easier to exhibit good ball control.
Of course, some activities will be next to impossible with such a small ball, so it’s best to work on close control. You can set up a small area to practice your dribbling a tennis ball. Make sure to work on using both feet in quick succession
Another good exercise you can do is to practice juggling with a tennis ball, a difficult activity that can do wonders for your touch.
Start by just kicking it up in the air once and let it hit the ground. Perfect your kick so that the ball rises in the air the appropriate distance, and make sure to use both feet. Next do two juggles, both with one foot and alternating between feet. As you get more comfortable, gradually increase the number of juggles you can do.
All of these activities, from running and lifting to goal setting to working with a tennis ball, can significantly hone your skills without the need to use a real soccer ball. Make sure, of course, that you are still playing in games and practices as much as you can so that you are applying these concepts when they are fresh in your mind.