Improving Your Football Skills

Conventional wisdom in the old days stated that God-given talent was the be all and end all for a successful career in football. Training was only a necessary supplement to what was already imbued within a particular individual. Today, while the term ‘talent’ is still bandied about, developments in coaching have allowed youngsters to emulate the greats with increasing ease. Indeed, such is the importance of coaching at both amateur and professional level, you can even utilise hypnosis to supposedly improve your ability on the field, and the top clubs all make use of ‘sports psychologists’ to help the star players perform.

A decisive moment in coaching was the rise of the Coerver Method in the 1970s, named after Wiel Coerver, the Dutch former manager of Feyenoord. Coerver claimed that by analysing tapes of great players in action, you could break down their technique and trademark skills and use this knowledge to teach young players. The fundamentals of this method are enshrined in coaching today, and certain moves are still referred to as ‘Coerver moves’.

The depth and complexity of football coaching is such that any guide will fall short. However, here are a few notable manoeuvres to get you started, a number of which are identified with footballing greats:

The Cruyff Turn

  1. Facing your opponent with the ball, position your body to feign a cross or shot.
  2. Then drag the ball with your foot behind your standing leg.
  3. Turn and be on your way while the opponent is left flat-footed.
The Cruyff Turn

The Cruyff Turn

The Cruyff Turn

The Zidane Roulette/Maradona’s 360º Spin Move

  1. While dribbling with the ball close to your body, turn to shield the ball as you reach an opponent face-to-face.
  2. With your back to the player, in the same movement, put your foot on the ball and delicately bring it around with you.
  3. Leave the opponent trailing as you turn around his body.
The 360 Spin Move

360 Spin

360 Spin

The Shoulder Feint

  1. Feign to go one way by dropping one shoulder as if moving in that direction.
  2. Then quickly go the other way and wrong-foot your marker. This is best achieved with your back to the opponent.

Stepover

Popularised initially by Pelé, this move is extremely popular in modern football and expertly utilised by individuals like Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldinho:

  1. Feign to move on way by flicking your foot fully over the ball in that direction, but without actually touching the ball at any point.
  2. Then push the ball in the opposite direction and skip past your marker.
The Stepover

Stepover

The Matthews Move

Named after one of the most influential wingers in football, Stanley Matthews, who was pivotal in establishing wing play as a vital part of attacking. The Matthews move is today a fundamental weapon in any winger’s arsenal:

  1. When facing a defender, push the ball slightly forward to his standing foot.
  2. Then instantly flick it horizontally down the wing and, as he’s wrong-footed, use your speed to waltz past him.
The Matthews Move

Matthews Move

Matthews Move

The Nutmeg

The nutmeg is the ultimate insult to an opponent and a great, easy trick for beginners to learn:

  1. When facing your opponent, allow him to set himself to cover your attack.
  2. Then take advantage of the gap between his legs, pass the ball through them and skip around his body.
The Nutmeg

Nutmegged

The Puskás Move/The V-Move

Associated with the famous Hungarian forward Ferenc Puskás, the v-move is perfect for improving your dribbling and close control, as well as a great way for evading tackles:

  1. While in possession of the ball, drag the ball back with your foot.
  2. In the same movement, flick it forward at a 45º degree angle (works particularly well if your opponent dives in for a tackle).

The Elastico/Flip-Flap

Actually invented in the 1970s by the Brazilian Rivelino, the move today is popularly associated with his countryman Ronaldinho. The trick requires incredible speed and flexibility, so don’t expect to pick it up quickly!

  1. Facing an opponent, flick the ball up to one side.
  2. In mid-air, cushion the ball with the inside of your ball, taking it the other way past your marker.
The Flip Flap

The Flip Flap

The Flip Flap

Websites on football training, skills and exercises

  1. ExpertFootball Soccer Techniques & Skills – Sections on coaching, fitness and in-game tactics, but especially good on skills and techniques (hosting a number of excellent videos).
  2. BBC Sport: Football Skills – Instructional videos on football basics and advanced skills and techniques.
  3. Master Sport Soccer Skills & Techniques – Similar to ExpertFootball, but with more emphasis on the basics.
  4. Soccer Training Info – Good on advanced skills and contains plenty of videos of famous players in action.

Further Skills

For more skills check out our detailed look at a many varirty of skills elsewhere on the site: