How to Juggle a Soccer Ball: 4 Practice Drills

Besides being one of the most popular sports in the world, soccer is a game that requires both raw talent and technical skills to succeed. Whether you’re a soccer player wanting to go to the next level, or your child has started playing and needs a little help, practice drills are a great place to start.

Though it’s no secret that the best way to begin learning how to juggle a ball in soccer is to start off with the dominant foot and then switch to the weaker foot, there are plenty of drills out there that can aid soccer juggling, and the best part is that they can be used by players of all abilities. 

Today, we’re going to be talking you through 4 effective practice drills that you or your child can incorporate into home and club training sessions. They’re ideal for players of all ages and will help to improve precision, ball-handling skills, as well player confidence. Ready? Let’s begin!

How will Learning to Juggle a Soccer Ball Improve My Game?

Many people object to practicing juggling a soccer ball because it is an aspect of soccer that doesn’t happen that much. Now, while this is true, it doesn’t mean that mastering the technique of effectively juggling a soccer ball should go ignored.

On the contrary, learning to properly juggle a soccer ball brings about many benefits, including being a more versatile and dangerous player out on the soccer field.

Regardless of whether you have raw talent or have been playing for years and want to hone your skills, learning to juggle a soccer ball is considered to be one of the hardest techniques to master. This is because juggling is something that requires accuracy, lightning-fast reflexes, and confidence, three things that can only be achieved with practice… and lots of it!

Before we talk you through our four drills, you might be wondering why it’s so important for a player to learn how to effectively juggle a soccer ball, especially as so many people question the importance of it.

If you’re dedicated to learning how to juggle a soccer ball,  you should start to see results after the first few attempts of our drills.

Not only that, but you’ll also improve your overall game, and find yourself becoming a more technical player with more versatility.  Here are four ways learning to juggle a soccer ball can improve your game:

Your confidence will increase:

By far, one of the main benefits of learning to correctly juggle a soccer ball is an increase of confidence. This is because juggling a soccer ball is very technical and will require you to come into contact with the ball multiple times in a short amount of time.

By regularly coming into touch with your soccer ball, you’ll be improving your coordination, muscle memory and speed, all the while becoming a more agile and versatile player out on the field.

Learning to juggle the soccer ball will also improve your confidence because you’ll be able to predict better how the ball will move and perform.

Each time you come into contact with the ball, you’ll notice how varying pressure and different handling techniques can make the ball go higher in the air, or move faster on the ground, therefore improving your abilities and raising your confidence levels. 

You’ll be more accurate:

Besides raising your confidence, another reason why it’s a good idea to learn how to juggle a soccer ball is that it will improve your overall accuracy. This is because juggling will teach you to be more comfortable handling the ball upon the first touch, which will improve your control of the ball.

Whether you’re headed for the net or receiving a pass from your teammate, the first contact of the ball is extremely important, because it sets the tone for how you will control the ball throughout the rest of the sequence. 

Plus, besides helping to improve your precision out on the field, learning to juggle a soccer ball will help to refine and hone your skills. When you concentrate on correctly juggling the ball and take the time to practice as much as you can, you’ll be developing skills that will benefit you throughout other areas of the game, like ball control and speed. 

Every time you effectively juggle a ball, you’ll be controlling the ball by using a fast-paced, high-contact technique. In turn, you’ll be improving your ability to carry out all kinds of accurate moves besides juggling, as well as improving your decision-making skills.

This is because you’ll be able to better understand how the ball behaves, and how to get the ball to move in the way that you want it to. Overtime, mastering how to juggle the ball will make you a better overall player.  

It will teach you discipline:

Learning to juggle a soccer ball will teach you to be more disciplined and focused out on the field.

As we’re sure you already know, a game of soccer is unpredictable, and the ball can travel from one end of the pitch to the opposite in a matter of moments - all it takes is for one player to lose focus for a second and it’ll be in the control of the opponent!

When you start to regularly teach yourself how to juggle the ball (with a little help of our drills, of course) you’ll improve your ability to stay concentrated and focused on the ball, no matter how intense or fast-paced the game is.

Why? Well, as juggling is fast-paced and consists of multiple touches in a short span of time, you’ll improve your speed, focus, and concentration on the ball, which will benefit you in other areas of the game. 

It will make you a better all-round player:

This point ties into the three above. As your confidence, accuracy, and discipline on the field improve, you’ll notice yourself becoming a much better player.

This is because soccer ball juggling helps to improve your focus, coordination, speed, and accuracy. 

4 Drills to Improve Soccer Juggling...Practice makes Perfect!

Besides getting a feel for the ball and building your confidence, one of the very best ways to improve your ability to juggle a soccer ball between your feet is by practicing with drills. Sometimes referred to as a skill drill, soccer drills are a type of repetitive training activity that focuses on the improvement of overall decision making, accuracy, confidence and timing. 

These drills will help you to learn how to use all parts of your body to get a feel for the ball, By incorporating these into training sessions, these drills will help to build your confidence and make you more aware of parts of your body in soccer, and how you can use them to effectively control and pass the ball. 

With plenty of practice, these drills will help you to add more diversity and creativity to your game. Now, while being great at juggling a soccer ball doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll be the best in your squad, just by incorporating a few drills into training, you’ll see your skills increase tenfold.

Besides soccer, skill or practice drills are used across a variety of sports, and usually without any equipment. However, for the purpose of improving soccer handling skills, each drill will incorporate the ball. Let’s take a look at the first one:

Practice Drill #1: Juggling the soccer ball with your feet

  • Warm-up for 5-10 mins so that your muscles are warm.
  • Hold the ball in your hands and relax your posture, ensuring that both feet are in line with your shoulders, just like you were about to receive a pass from one of your teammates. 
  • With the ball positioned between both hands, gently drop the ball to the floor.
  • As the ball reaches the ground, immediately kick the ball back up to your hands, so that you can catch it and return to the starting position.
  • Keep practicing this drill until you are able to repeatedly kick the ball 8-10 times in a row before needing to readjust or start again in the starting position. 
  • Once you feel confident, try applying more power to your kicks, so that the ball is vaulted higher into the air to about eye-level. This is a handy activity to try because receiving the ball from a height is a very common aspect of many soccer games.

What will this drill help achieve?

This drill is specifically designed to help improve ball juggling with your feet and it will help to improve coordination, speed, and accuracy.

Though you are going to find yourself juggling the ball with multiple parts of your body as you develop as a player, you use your feet the most to control the ball, so it’s a great starting place when wanting to master juggling.

Top Tip: If you find yourself struggling to kick the ball back up to your hands, or the ball is bouncing away from you, then we recommend focusing your eyes on your toes while dropping the ball. 

Practice Drill #2: Juggling the ball using your head

Though your feet are going to be the part of your body you use the most while juggling the ball, in some instances, you will need to use your head to help offload the ball and get it on the ground so you can use it.

Now, if you’re a beginner or have never incorporated your head into soccer handling techniques, don’t worry! It’s a lot less daunting than it seems. When handling the ball with your head, the most important thing to always remember is that the ball should only ever come into contact with your forehead. 

A soccer ball can hurt if you do not use the correct technique when making contact with your head, so it’s important to make sure that, while performing this technique, you keep your eyes on the ball and make sure that it only comes into contact with your forehead, which is the strongest part of your head. 

With that being said, here are our step-by-step instructions on how to perform this drill:

  • Just like with the first drill we went through, begin this drill by standing legs shoulder-width apart and with the ball held in your hands.
  • Ensuring that you have adopted a relaxed and comfortable stance, throw the ball up into the air, directly above your head. Try to throw the ball around 1 meter above your head, as this will give you enough time to plan your next move.
  • Keeping your eyes focused on the ball, extend your forehead towards the ball as it falls down. If done correctly, your forehead should come into contact with the ball the very moment that your neck extended backward.
  • As you power through with the header, keep your focus on the ball with the intention of hitting it as high up into the air as you possibly can without overexerting yourself.
  • Repeat steps until you become comfortable. Then, carry out the drill for 10 consecutive headers before taking a break.

What will this drill help achieve?

This drill will help to add versatility to your technique and confidence to your game, making you a more diverse and threatening opponent.

Learning to properly maneuver and juggle a soccer ball with your head will ensure that you’re able to make quicker decisions, get the ball rolling out of tricky situations and improve your coordination. 

Top Tip: If you haven’t had much practice heading the ball, it might feel uncomfortable or strange at first. This is entirely normal, and it might take you a little while before your body becomes accustomed to this technique, particularly your neck muscles.

So, to keep yourself as relaxed as possible and to reduce the chances of any strain, try rolling your shoulders and neck out before beginning the drill. 

In addition to that, we also recommend making sure that you always keep your eyes directly focused on the ball while performing this technique. By doing this, you’ll be able to keep yourself safe and ensure that you’re in better control of the ball and where it goes. 

Practice Drill #3: Juggling the soccer ball with your knees

As you develop as a player, you’ll find that juggling a playing ball in soccer extends far further than with just the feet, or the occasional header.

A big part of juggling a soccer ball is by being able to maneuver and control the ball with other parts of your body, such as the knees and even sometimes the thighs. 

If you regularly watch soccer matches with friends, we’ll bet that you can recall many instances in which a player has received a pass that required them to use their mid-zone to control the ball downwards to their feet. It’s a very common occurrence in soccer matches of all levels and usually occurs when a player is receiving a ball from a distance.

You’ll often find that you need to control the ball with either your knees or thighs. Though your knees are an angled, rounded area of your body, which will make it easier to knock the ball downwards, they aren’t protected by much muscle.

In contrast, your thighs, though slightly higher up and less predictable and controlling the ball, are covered by plenty of muscle, which will offer more protection. As you grow as a player and participate in more games, you’ll find yourself using both frequently. 

With that being said, here’s an effective drill that will get you comfortable incorporating this area of your body:

  • Ensuring that you’re fully warmed up, stand in a relaxed position with your feet shoulder-width apart, and with your arms outstretched in front of you holding the ball.
  • Stand up on your tiptoes, and then proceed to throw the ball upwards, so that it raises above your head. Again, we recommend aiming to throw the ball around 1 meter above your head, so that you will have enough time to get into the next position safely.
  • With your focused intently on the ball, bring your thigh up so that it is parallel with your belly button, or at a 90-degree angle. By allowing the ball to bounce off your thigh in this position, you’ll notice that the ball rebounds upwards in a straight line directly in front of you.
  • Repeat until you feel comfortable and confident. As soon as the ball is consistently bouncing off your thigh in a straight line directly upwards, try practicing the drill 10 times in a row. 

What will this drill help achieve?

This drill will help you to feel more confident juggling the ball with your thighs and knees. This will benefit you during pressurized moments of a game when you need to control the ball from a height, or safely maneuver a header shot from a teammate to the ground. 

Top tip: Getting used to using your thighs and knees while juggling a ball is by far one of the most difficult techniques to get used to.

It’s very common that the ball might bounce off your leg at an angle (or even towards your face) so don’t get discouraged if you find this happening, and keep practicing.

Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself consistently getting the ball to bounce in a straight line off of your thigh, at which point you can incorporate your knees and feet, which will no doubt make you a more versatile player. 

Top Tip: To improve your accuracy and coordination, make sure to keep your eyes on the ball throughout the entirety of this drill. You need to be able to align the ball with your thigh, and the easiest way to do so is by keeping your gaze focused on the ball as it passes from your hands high into the air.

Besides that, keeping your focus on the ball will improve your safety, as you’ll be able to jump out of the way if you accidentally throw the ball too powerfully. 

Practice Drill #4: Using your thighs, knees, feet, and head to juggle the ball

Sure, even though it’s important to practice drills on each area we have mentioned above, you’ll also want to get comfortable with combining all of them together. The sooner you can become more confident and comfortable using all parts of your body together, the better player you will be. Check out our easy and simple drill below:

  • Just like with all the other drills we have talked you through, start this drill off by standing in a relaxed position with your legs shoulder-width apart. Hold the ball within your hands.
  • When you feel ready to, lightly throw the ball up into the air. 
  • Allowing the ball to drop to the ground, use your dominant foot to kick the ball upwards, just enough so that it lands on your thigh (the same leg).
  • Then, immediately bounce the ball off your thigh so that it lands back on your foot. After successfully doing this, kick the ball back up onto your thigh. Repeat until you feel comfortable, and then switch to your other foot/thigh.
  • After you are confident doing this, now it is time to bring your head into the equation. 
  • Repeat the drill once more, except making sure to bounce the ball up so that it goes past your head.
  • Knock the ball with your forehead back down to catch the ball and then repeat.

What will this drill help achieve?

Though this is a practice drill, this particular exercise (out of all of them) is the most realistic to the game and is the drill that closely emulates the way you will juggle in an actual game of soccer. 

By combining different combinations such as this, you will help to improve your technical skills, all the while becoming more confident handling the ball across multiple areas of your body. 

Top Tip: Feel free to get creative and try different combination drills of your own creation. The more you practice using multiple parts of your body at once, the easier it will be for you to juggle the ball - almost like second nature!

Wrapping Up

So, there you have it! We hope that you have enjoyed reading this guide and learning about four helpful drills that will no doubt improve your soccer juggling skills.

Remember, regardless of whether you plan on playing professionally or simply want a new fitness hobby, the most important part about soccer is having fun, so don’t beat yourself up if it takes you a while to get the hang of it. 

Even the best players in the world need to brush up on their skills from time to time, and you can bet that drills like the ones we mentioned above are their go-to solution whenever they need a skill refresher.

The best part about these drills is that they’ll benefit you no matter your ability, so they’ll be of use to you even as you begin to improve.

Why not bookmark this page? That way, you can always come back if you forget a step or want to brush up on your soccer juggling know-how. Happy playing!  

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