Soccer is a great sport to pick up and play with a group of friends. It’s the world’s most popular sport because of the simplicity of the game and the ease of picking it up. The best way to start playing soccer by yourself is to begin practicing juggling a soccer ball. But, if you’re new to soccer, where do you begin learning how to juggle a soccer ball?
To juggle a soccer ball, balance is key, no matter if you’re juggling with your feet, thighs, or head. It is also best to start from the ground up: use your hands to drop the ball down to your feet to bounce, then repeat this process, working your way up to the thighs and then head.
Before you go throwing the soccer ball around the house, there are a few subtleties that are necessary to know. Juggling is a great way to learn how to control a soccer ball and balance yourself while playing the game. It can be a great way to also include some friends for a fun game of juggling.
Before You Learn to Juggle
Before you dive right into juggling, there are a few things you need to know about the game of soccer first.
First, determine your skill level according to your age. The younger you are, the more balance issues you are going to have (as you get older, your muscles and body become more adaptable to holding up). As for skill level, the more you have watched or experienced soccer, the more you can draw upon what you have seen.
There are also different sized soccer balls for different age groups. Younger kids will obviously be using a smaller soccer ball, and the progress of the size of the ball increases with the child’s age until about ages 12-13 when they begin to use the same size ball as the professionals.
To figure out which size soccer ball you should be using, check out my Soccer Ball Size And Weight Guide.
Be sure that the soccer ball is also inflated to the proper size. Overfilling a soccer ball with air might make it feel like a rock while underinflating a ball will prevent the ball from popping up in the air easily.
Footwear and clothing are also important when it comes to soccer. When playing in an organized game of soccer, players will wear special soccer cleats. These cleats are specifically designed for soccer players and no other sport. They have spikes on the bottom on the sole to help with playing in the grass as well as a flat surface on top.
This flat surface on the top of the cleat helps give a wide surface area to strike the soccer ball with as much accuracy as possible.
The clothing is also unique to soccer. Typically, soccer players wear athletic shorts that may be a bit shorter than basketball shorts with a short-sleeve jersey that is tucked in. The reason that they wear shorter shorts is, so the material does not interfere with their playing or when they use their legs to juggle the soccer ball.
First Time Juggling Tips
When you begin to learn how to juggle a soccer ball, there are a few tips you need to know before you begin.
First and foremost, you have to find the best surface to learn. A flat surface with few obstructions in the surrounding area is the best bet for you. Surfaces like a basketball court, a patch of grass, or maybe even a patio are all great spots to begin.
Be sure that you are not wearing cleats on concrete or similar surfaces. If you do so, you run the risk of damaging the spikes on the underside of the shoes.
Another tip is to learn how hands are involved with soccer. In the game of soccer, goalies are the only players that can use their hands when playing. But, when it comes to learning how to juggle, hands are the starting point. Dropping the ball onto whichever body part you are juggling with is the best way to start consistently.
Also, be aware of the dangers that juggling can present as well as your own surroundings. Juggling, especially when using your head, can be dangerous if not properly done. The head is the most vulnerable part of the body because of the repeated use of your head hitting the ball. Always be aware of how you feel after juggling with your head for a while.
- There has been an increase over the past few years that have shown that heading a soccer ball can lead to concussions.
- A concussion is when your brain snaps back and hits the inside of your head, causing damage; this can lead to headaches, sickness, loss of thought, or even worse.
- There are even some medical experts that have suggested that all children under the age of 15 not use their head to hit a soccer ball in a game to protect them from potential injury.
- Your surroundings are also important to be aware of when practicing juggling.
- Make sure there are not any toys or any other obstacles on the ground near where someone is practicing.
- You don’t want someone not paying attention, tripping on a baseball bat, and hurting themselves.
Balance is the biggest key when it comes to juggling. Before you begin any juggling practice test your balance. See if you can balance on one leg and then the other for a while. Also, be sure that you can kick your legs while balancing on one leg. The more movements a person can do while balancing on one leg, the better that person is equipped for juggling.
How to Juggle a Soccer Ball with the Feet
Now, when getting into juggling a soccer ball, the best place to start is from the ground up. The feet in soccer are the most important part of the body: they control the ball, strike the ball, run around, etc. The feet control everything in the game of soccer.
When starting, make sure you have a stable balance on both legs. Then, lift one of your legs (your dominant leg) and stretch it out with the knee locked. Then, drop the ball onto your foot. This allows you to get a feel for how a soccer ball bounces off of the foot. Do this a few times with each leg, but do not try to kick the ball back in the air.
Be aware of where your toes are pointed when attempting to juggle with your feet. If done properly, the ball should bounce off of the toes and back towards your arms/head area. Should the ball veer off in another direction other than that, fix the way the toes are pointing.
The key is to keep the foot almost parallel to the surface, with a slight bend of the foot upwards.
Continue with this technique of dropping the ball onto each foot until the ball consistently is coming back into your hands. Once you have that down, try to bounce the ball twice off of your foot. Be careful of your balance, though, as some people might be too overzealous and lean back too far. The leg that is up should always be slightly bent, and the planted leg simply bends a little to allow for the ball to pop back up.
Here’s a helpful video to show you juggling a soccer ball with your feet in action.
How to Juggle a Soccer Ball with the Thighs
The next step in juggling a soccer ball is to use your thighs. The thighs might be the easiest part of the body to juggle with because they tend to be bigger and offer more surface area. Thighs are also the area that can control the soccer ball the easiest because they are so dense and do not allow a lot of leeway.
Just like with the feet, you should start with one leg bent and the other on the ground to stabilize. This time, the leg should form a right angle, with the bottom of the leg pointed straight down from the knee. Start the same way as with the feet, dropping the soccer ball with your hands down to your thigh.
Keep doing this with both legs to get a feel for how the soccer ball comes off of your thigh.
Once you have mastered the one bounce juggle off of your thigh, try and juggle the ball multiple times. Remember to keep the leg that’s in the air at a right angle and simply lift that leg when the ball makes contact with the thigh; if done properly, the ball should pop up and then back down in almost the same exact spot on the thigh.
If the ball is not popping right back up to your hands, there might be a few things you are doing incorrectly. One might be that you are too forceful when the ball is hitting your thigh. Be sure that you are simply allowing the ball to hit your thigh, and if you want a little more power, a slight raise of the leg should be enough.
Balance is another issue that may arise. Be sure you are not leaning too far backward when juggling. A nice, central point of gravity is what you are looking for when you juggle to maintain the balance needed.
Here’s a helpful video to give you an idea of what juggling a soccer ball with your thighs looks like.
How to Juggle a Soccer Ball with the Head
Finally, the head is the last part of the body you can learn to juggle with. The head is the most difficult and the most dangerous part of the body to juggle with. It’s difficult because it involves using your neck as a strength tool, which is a bit abnormal. Also, you are juggling with your forehead, which can be a tricky target point for some people to hit consistently.
To begin, lie down on the floor. Initially, you are going to drop the soccer ball on your forehead from just a few inches above you. This allows you to get a feel for how the ball should come off of the forehead. You can slightly progress by lifting your head off the ground and placing a pillow underneath it.
Now, drop the ball from a little higher than before, but try to move your head forward and “meet” the ball in the air. The pillow underneath your head is there just in case the head snaps back and hits the ground. If this is done properly, the ball should actually fly forward towards your feet.
This will help you in a real game of soccer, as heading a ball involves using one’s neck to direct and power the ball in certain directions.
Once you have mastered the art of heading the ball from the ground, move to kneeling. This time, instead of tossing from above you, have someone kneel across from you and gently toss the ball near your head. Alternatively, if you’re by yourself, you can start to toss the ball a little bit higher into the air and try to meet it with your head.
Make sure the toss is high enough that you’re not falling over trying to head the ball, but also not too high that you fall backward.
You should use a snapping motion with your neck to “meet” the ball in the air with the forehead and force it forward. Once you have this part of heading down, it is time to stand up and attempt the same drill.
As with kneeling, standing is the same drill, using the neck to snap the head forward and meet the ball in the air. Once you have this down, try changing the direction of the ball in the air. If you have a brick wall or tall, wooden fence nearby, use that as a backboard.
Toss the ball straight on like normal, but attempt to head the ball against the wall. To do so, you should snap your neck in the direction you want the ball to go toward. If timed correctly, the ball should hit the forehead and proceed in the direction desired.
Here’s a helpful video to show you juggling a soccer ball with your head in practice.
Once you have mastered all three levels of juggling, it is time to practice and perfect all three. Incorporating all three parts of the body when juggling is the best way to become a better soccer player overall.
I’ll give some direction for practice drills below, but also check out my 26 At Home Soccer Drills for more ideas.
The first drill you can do is to start with the feet. Try and juggle five times in a row with one foot. Switch to the other foot and then try to alternate feet. Now do the same drill with the thighs. The feet and the thighs are two very similar juggling body parts, so some of the drills you can do for one, you can certainly do for the other.
For the head, juggling by yourself can be difficult because you have to toss the ball by yourself to meet your forehead, which can lead to some painful hits on your nose or eyes. But, remember to use your neck with a snapping motion to keep the ball bouncing up and down.
To get complex, try to juggle using two or all three parts of your body. Start at the feet, and work your way up to the thighs. Alternate back and forth between the two and then see if you can juggle the ball high enough to reach your head. The most difficult part might be going back down from your head to your thigh or feet, so take your time with that.
Also, try to start juggling with the ball on the ground. Use your feet and see if you can pop the soccer ball up and juggle.
To do this, you need to roll the ball back to your feet, place your foot on top of the ball, and force it backward, but not too hard. Once you have the ball moving, slide your foot underneath the ball while it is in motion. Now that you have your foot under the ball pop the ball up in the air and begin to juggle.
Now that you have juggling down invite some friends or family to participate with you! Juggling circles are a great way for everyone to get involved and remain active. It also helps you get creative with your juggling skills, as the ball will be coming to you in different directions from the players around you.
Remember, with juggling, balance is the key to success!
Juggling a soccer ball is a great way to get introduced into the game of soccer. It can be done by yourself, with a friend or relative, or in a group of people. Always be sure that you have adequate space to practice that is free of distractions and obstacles. Be sure you have the proper equipment and clothing when juggling as well.
Always take safety precautions when juggling. Be aware of your surroundings, and if you are unsure about using your head when juggling, ask a medical professional for their opinion.
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