Learning to Train Stage – Dribbling Series

For players 9-12, in the Learning to Train Stage, now need a higher level of information and are able to do a lot more than they could at the FUNdamental Stage. Players are ready to put the elements they learned earlier and develop on those while also putting more sport specific movements in place. What does this mean? We can start to teach players how to use their dribbling and the purpose, or why, behind many of the elements we are coaching can be understood by the player. For instance, in the FUNdamental Stage it is important to teach players to use all surfaces of their foot, now it is important to teach the players how to use those surfaced together to perform a move that can beat a defender.

It is vitally important to teach players how to master the 1v1 situation. At almost every level of the sport the players and teams that can win the most 1v1s will be successful and this age is incredibly important to master the skills necessary to win in this situation.

What does a player have to do to win in a 1v1? There are three elements that all have to be involved to one degree or another, the best players use all three elements simultaneously without thinking. The three elements? Change of Pace, Change of Direction and Deception (players frequently want to call this ‘moves’ as they have likely learned how to do moves but have not been able to understand exactly why they have learned them).

Change of Pace

Did you see any examples of a change of pace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang? The Borrusia Dortmund man is one of the fastest players in the world and consistently uses his pace to beat opposing defenders. If you watch carefully, it isn’t full speed ahead all the time, he pulls the defender in close with some slower dribbling before exploding away and getting in behind the defenders.

Change of Direction

This one video could easily demonstrate all three elements of the 1v1, but take note of how drastic Neymar’s change of direction is. The defender is prepared for the ball to go one direction (or even for the player to go on direction) and almost instantly everything changes directions and the defender is left behind.


As I mentioned above, players may have a hard time understanding what you are talking about when you say they need to add deception, but if you say do a move their eyes will light up and they will probably be able to show you how fast they can do 20 stopovers. Although I am quite sure Ronaldinho can do 20 stopovers in record time, how many of these do you see in the video? Effective dribbling is much more concerned with deceiving the defender in whatever way that looks like than mastering moves out of a book. Teach your players how to sell a simple cut with their eyes, head and shoulders and they will instantly be more effective than they ever were when doing those stopovers.


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