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5 Best Individual Exercises For Ball Control

June 5, 2024, by Rachel Belsk | Courtesy of

Quality ball control is essential for a well-rounded soccer player, regardless of your position on the field. 

Some players are intimidated by the time it takes to truly master ball control, but we found some basic exercises that can be done in just twelve minutes a day. Depending on your starting skill level, any of these could be made easier or harder.

Start by trying these five exercises two or three times a week and work up to a daily routine. Before you know it, you’ll be beating defenders left and right!


1. Toe Taps – 2 minutes

Toe taps are exactly what they sound like. Balance on your right foot, raise the left foot and tap the top of the ball with the bottom of your left toe. Then, switch sides and do the same action on the other side. It should be one fluid motion, almost like you are running on top of the ball. 

This exercise helps balance, ball control, and coordination. Try tapping the ball as little as possible so it doesn’t move too much — your toes should be doing all the work. 

As you progress, your speed and agility will increase. Aim for one minute of toe taps to start, break, and try to go for another minute. Increase the time limit as you improve.


2. Back-and-Forths – 2 minutes

Back-and-forths, or bell taps, involve tapping the ball with the inside of both feet so the ball creates a straight line on the ground. Similar to toe taps, this motion helps soccer players work on balance and coordination with a moving ball. 

The key to bell taps is to stay agile. Flat feet or heels down will make this exercise difficult. Bear your weight forward on your toes and keep your momentum going. 

Start with a goal of one minute, and increase by thirty-second intervals. Once you’ve mastered it, try to pick your head up and not look at the ball as you tap it back and forth!


3. Inside Outside Touches – 3 minutes

This exercise can be done with or without cones or obstacles, but we recommend using something as a guideline (anything works!). Put your cones or obstacles in a straight line about one yard apart. 

You will use the instep of one foot to cut the ball across your body and the outside of the same foot to push the ball back out to the outside of your body. The inside-outside motion will encourage you to cut quickly. Beating defenders involves agility and speed changes, and this drill will help you change direction more efficiently. 

Switch feet! Although your dominant foot may be easier, it’s important to work both to better your foot skills. 


4. Back-and-Forths Inside-Outside – 2 minutes

The exercise combines two drills from above. Use both feet to maneuver the soccer ball as you weave in and out of the cones.

After the line of cones, add a sprint with the ball to another marked location or cone about twenty feet away. This helps you practice exploding into a power drill after cutting in and out, an essential trademark of a good soccer player.

Start slow with wide cones, and slowly make the space smaller. Making mistakes is good!


5. First Touch – 3 minutes

This final exercise can be done individually against a wall or with a partner. 

Start by playing the ball on the ground with a hard pass to the wall. As it comes back, settle it and pass it back to the wall. You should be on your toes to send the ball back to the wall. 

Variations include settle and five toe taps, settle and five back and forths, one touch, and two touches. Try mimicking a give-and-go and passing the ball against the wall so you have to shuffle or sprint to another location to receive it. Passes in games are rarely perfect, so this is a great way to test your first touch and ball control on a difficult ball. 

Alternatively, you can kick a soccer ball high in the air and run to get under and settle it. Try to limit yourself to three, two, or one touch to get the ball under control, add an obstacle course or a few cones, or set up a goal nearby. 

Track your progress to challenge yourself in each session.  

Focusing on these basic ball control tactics will make you a stronger, smarter, and faster soccer player. Repetition is key to success here. The more you do these, the easier they will become. Combine these drills with conditioning exercises, and your soccer workout is complete! 

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