First Touch Practice
Juggling Tips for Players
How to teach juggling in 10 easy steps
Not many youth football coaches take the time to teach their players how to juggle the ball.
That's probably because most coaches think that juggling (or "keepy uppies") is just a trick and it's more important for their players to be able to pass, shoot and tackle than be able to keep the ball in the air for a long time.
But juggling is good for your players. It will improve their co-ordination, balance and that most important of all football skills – their first touch.
Juggling is also great fun. Children love to learn new "tricks", they love a challenge and beginning a coaching session with a few minutes of juggling is guaranteed to put a smile on your players' faces.
But, I hear you say, juggling is difficult, isn't it? Surely it's a waste of time trying to teach very young players how to keep the ball in the air for more than a second or two?
Actually, it isn't. Even children as young as two or three can be taught how to juggle if you follow this 10-step plan.
Start by showing your players how easy it is to juggle with the thigh.
Hold the ball in both hands and straight out in front of you. Bring the left and right thigh up to touch it, alternately. Don't let go of the ball at his stage.
Now do the same while you are walking around. Again, don't allow your players to let go of the ball.
Next, tell your players to stand still and drop the ball on to their thigh as they bring it up. The ball should only drop an inch or two before being gently nudged back into the air and caught.
Tip: Make sure the ball is dropped on to the middle of the thigh, not the knee or it will bounce away.
Now bounce the ball on the thigh twice before catching it.
Great! We're juggling!
When your players can bounce the ball two or three times on to their thigh before losing control you can begin to teach them to juggle with their feet.
Hold the ball straight out again and this time, drop it on to the floor. As it bounces, tap the ball back up and catch it.
Help your players by labeling this sequence "bounce, foot, catch'"
Tip: Make sure your players keep their ankles locked and their toes pointed straight out. If the toes are pointed towards the ground or the ankle is "loose", the ball will run away from the player.
Now let's add another bounce. This time, your players drop the ball, tap it up, let it drop again then tap the ball up a second time and catch it.
This sequence is "bounce, foot, bounce, foot, catch".
Next, drop the ball on to the foot and tap it back into the hands – a "foot, catch".
Now drop the ball on to the foot, tap it up and let it bounce on the ground before tapping it up again and catching it – a "foot, bounce, foot, catch".
You will need to allow lots of practise at this stage. Don't move on to the next step until your players are really comfortable with the "foot, bounce, foot, catch".
Now it's time to do some proper juggling!
Bounce the ball on the ground, tap it up twice before catching it – a "bounce, foot, foot, catch".
This will be difficult for young players so don't push it if they are having difficulty. Go back to step 8 if necessary.
Eventually, and this won't happen in your first juggling session, your players will have the confidence to try three juggles – a "bounce, foot, foot, foot, catch".
This step is the hardest. Going from two to three keepy uppies is a major success but it's also the hardest progression in the whole sequence. So make sure you give lots of praise to anyone who can do it!
· Juggling is easier with a futsal or slightly under-inflated football.
· Encourage your players to practise at home by starting every coaching session with a juggling contest.
- Help your players improve their juggling skills by playing Soccer Tennis.
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