When you’re looking for the best ways to practice your soccer skills by yourself, there’s one exercise you can do that’s very simple but also does wonders for your touch and control.
I’m talking, of course, about juggling.
Juggling can be difficult to master, but you don’t need to do anything super advanced in order to reap the benefits.
Benefits of Practicing Juggling
We’ve already written about how juggling can make you a better soccer player.
For one, it helps greatly with your touch improving your ability to control the ball when it comes at you at all speeds and from all angles.
An improved touch will also see you better able to make passes with the proper weight as well as keep the ball closer to you when dribbling.
Additionally, juggling helps you improve your balance and coordination since it forces you to make quick adjustments in order to keep the ball in the air.
A Great Backyard Exercise
Another of the biggest benefits of juggling is that you don’t need any special equipment aside from a ball; not even a wall or teammate that you typically need to practice passing or receiving.
This makes juggling a great exercise to do anywhere you have even a little patch of space: your backyard, a playground, even a local street or sidewalk.
Practicing juggling just a few minutes a day is enough to see real improvements when you are consistent with your training.
So how can you maximize your juggling practice as a beginner so that you can ensure it’s worth your while?
The Basics: Tips for How to Juggle a Soccer Ball for Beginners
The basic move of juggling needs no real introduction: just keep the ball in the air!
But if you’re just getting started and juggling a ball dozens of times seems intimidating, there are easy ways that you can start more slowly.
First, practice by holding the ball in your hands and dropping it. Let it bounce once, then kick it back up with your laces and catch the ball again.
Keep working at it until you have enough control with your kick that the ball easily comes up to chest height and you don’t have to reach out far to catch it.
Next you want to slowly increase the number of juggles: 2, 3, 4, and more as you are able to. (Depending on the surface and ball that you’re using, you can also drop the ball, let it bounce, kick it up, let it bounce, and then kick it again.)
Don’t forget to work with your non-dominant foot too! Practice alternating juggling with your left and right foot.
Some other general juggling tips include to keep your ankle locked so you avoid weak contact with the ball. You also always want to make sure you keep your eye on the ball when you’re just getting comfortable.
Finally, stay on your toes so that you can more quickly anticipate and react to the ball’s movements. This has an added benefit of building a great habit that you can carry forward to the team practice and game environments too.
Juggling with All Parts of the Body
To get the maximum benefit from your juggling you don’t want to stop with your feet; juggling is an exercise that can involve just about all body parts.
So work in some juggles with your thighs, your head, even your chest and shoulders when you feel confident enough to do so.
With your feet, you can also very up how you strike the ball. When you’re just learning you usually kick the ball so it has backspin; but when you’re more advanced you can work on juggles with no spin or even topspin, which is more difficult.
Best Soccer Juggling Drills and Challenges
image credit: wikimedia commons
The following are a few different drills and juggling challenges that you can try:
- Juggle uninterrupted until you can get up to a chosen number (you might start with 50 or 100). After you achieve the challenge, increase the number and get it again.
- Juggle with only your non-dominant foot for as many reps as possible.
- Juggle in a pattern around your body, by going right foot, right thigh, head, left thigh, left foot, and repeat.
- Juggle with no spin for as many reps as you can (then try doing the same with topspin).
- Juggle while slowly jogging forward (then try jogging backward too).
- Juggle with your feet while avoiding letting the ball get above your waist
If you have a partner or teammate with you, you can also work on a variety of juggling drills together, like juggling a set number of times and then volleying it to the other person who chest traps and then juggles the same amount before passing it back.
We hope this article gives you some good tips and pointers for good juggling technique as well as some ideas for what you can do to practice. If you have any other comments or questions or some other good juggling exercises that you like, let us know below.