The main goal of this article is not to turn your attention away from the basic soccer skills that are the foundation of your game! However, the goal is to make you aware of the advanced skills that will help you stand out …
… Indeed, these kinds of skills are the ones that will make the difference at the highest level or at the most difficult and decisive moments of the games that you will be participating in.
In this article, I breakdown 15 effective & advanced skills that you should learn including some helpful & specific drills to master them!
Let’s tackle this!!
Advanced Defensive Skills
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The ability to anticipate the movement of an attacker is key, especially if the latter is faster or stronger than you!
Many beginners are tempted to look at their opponents’ feet, but they are often unable to react when they make a sudden, quick movement.
Instead, top coaches recommend watching the hip area instead as this gives a much better clue as to their intentions.
To practice this, line-up with two defenders and two attackers plus somebody to play the ball into the strikers.
The defenders should stand a yard away from the attackers, and when the ball is played into the striker they should anticipate which way they intend to move, keeping their eyes on their mid-section at all times.
Where a defender stands and their stance is really important!
Stand too close to an attacker and there is a chance that you may get rolled. At the same time allowing them too much space can be equally dangerous.
The stance is important because you do not want to be flat-footed. Instead if you have a slightly staggered stance you can change direction depending on where the attacker chooses to go right or left around you.
It also makes it more difficult for them to play the ball through your legs.
To practice this drill line up in a defensive formation against two or three attackers and have a coach or teammate look to see how you have lined-up and the stance you have adopted.
Make changes to correct any faults he has identified, and then introduce a ball into the game.
As a defender, one of the biggest roles you have to fulfil is to prevent an attacker getting off a shot, and you should, at all times, try and keep your body between the attacker and the net. They cannot shoot if you are in the way.
Therefore, again line-up in a defensive position with an attacker with the ball at their feet, face them in the correct position and stance, and shield the ball, making sure that they cannot get past you or shoot.
Be prepared to be physical if necessary, but not to foul your opponent!
Advanced Playmaking skills
A playmaker is often the most important role in a team!
Not only are they expected to create chances for others, but they will often get their fair share of goals as well.
They need to position a range of attribute including vision, passing ability, and to have a greater understanding of the game than many of their teammates.
Whilst not everybody can be a playmaker, you can certainly learn from the best. Watch videos of masters like David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne or Andrea Pirlo, and then slow the footage down.
See where they look before they play a pass and see how runs were made and picked out.
Begin to visualise patterns and games in your mind, and work on your spatial awareness of teammates.
5. Weight of Pass
A playmaker knows not only how to pass with accuracy, but also to put the right weight on the ball, so that it reaches a teammate exactly right.
Too short and it may not reach them, too hard and they may struggle to control it.
Therefore, a simple exercise which can be practiced on a soccer field or even in a back garden is to lay out a ring of cones in a small circle with a gap on one side.
Try and pass the ball through the cones so that it does not touch them and cones to rest in the middle of the circle.
Keep stepping back so the passes are becoming longer and longer.
6. Long Shooting
All good playmakers can shoot from distance as well. That means mastering the ability to shoot with accuracy and power from 20 yards or more.
This means practicing with a goalkeeper standing on the edge of the penalty, and practice shooting with both feet.
Then start moving further back. Concentrate first on hitting the target and do not worry if you are not able to beat the goalkeeper.
Advanced Offensive skills
7. The Wall Pass
The wall pass is an excellent way for an attacking team to get behind a defence and shoot at goal if executed properly.
It involves playing a ball to a colleague and then collecting the return from them and shooting straight away with either foot.
The weight of the pass to and from the teammate (the wall) needs to be exactly right, and the ball needs to be delivered into your instep so that you can strike it immediately without first controlling the ball.
Practice this skill with and without a goalkeeper.
8. The Corner Kick
Many goals are scored from corner kicks and many more opportunities are created. This is not just by luck. Teams will spend many hours on the training pitch working on their corner routines.
To practice this, first determine who is you most accurate dead ball kicker. This may vary depending on the side of the pitch, or whether you want to take in-swinging or out-swinging corners.
Then decide who are your best headers of a ball – it is usually the tallest players on your side but this is not always the case.
Begin by lining up for a corner but with no opponents. Practice delivering the ball so that it lands on the head of one of the designated attackers.
Then introduce a goalkeeper into the equation to compete for the ball and then finally add some defenders to replicate a real match situation.
9. The Penalty
Invariably in the course of a season you will be awarded a penalty or two at some stage. Sometimes more …
When that happens, it is essential that you make the most of the opportunity that has been presented and convert it.
Soccer is a low-scoring game and the margins are fine, and the ability to score from 12 yards can be the difference between winning and losing.
Penalties need to be practiced again and again until they are second-nature. So, learn how to pick your spot, keep your eyes on the ball and your head still as you strike the ball.
Try and aim for the corners of the goal and keep the ball low. They are much harder to save for the goalkeeper then.
Above all, once you have decided where you are going to shoot the ball, stick to it. One of the biggest reasons why penalties are missed is because players change their minds halfway through.
Advanced Team Skills
There is no greater talent in football than the ability to pass accurately. But it is not enough to be able to stand still and pass. You need to be able to master this skill whilst moving at the same time.
To practice this skill; have 3 players stand in a line 10 meters apart.
Another player should line-up with the ball facing the first man 10 metres distant from him. The object of the exercise is for him to go down the line of players, making wall passes to each of them, with everybody concentrating on playing the ball first time.
Then the player needs to go back down the line using their other foot.
Players should alternate so that everybody gets to practice this skill.
11. The Offside Trap
The offside trap is exceedingly difficult to exercise because if one member of the defensive line gets it wrong, then their opponents will likely have a goal scoring opportunity!
Therefore, everybody involved in the backline needs to be attuned to each other and move at the same time.
Communication is key!
The goalkeeper, full-backs and central defenders need to keep an eye on each other’s positions shouting out so that everybody moves as one.
Often it needs one player to take the lead, spot that an opponent is in an offside position, instructing their colleagues all to move forward at the same time.
The famous Arsenal back four used to practice this by roping the defenders together, so they were forced to move in sync.
12. The goal kick
Whilst a goal kick is earned when the opposition puts the ball out of play over the dead ball line, they are not just a means of getting play restarted. They also represent both an opportunity and a threat.
They are an opportunity because executed well, they are the means of starting a new attack, but a threat because there is a danger that possession can be lost straight away and in an area of the field that poses a risk from the opposition.
Therefore, a team needs to practice goal kicks and to have several routines up their sleeve.
Changes to the laws of the game mean that many teams play out from the back these days, which means that the goalkeeper needs to be able to pass as well as any outfield player.
However, a short pass is not always an option as team needs to be able to go long, either with a ball down the middle or with a diagonal to a wide player on either flank.
Like everything else this needs to be drilled on the practice field. Workout several routines so that there are always options in a game situation.
Other Premium skills …
13. The Cruyff Turn
Made famous by the famous Dutch, Barcelona, and Ajax forward of the 1970s, this was showcased to the world in a World Cup match against Sweden in 1974.
Tightly marked by a Swedish defender and facing his own goal, with the ball at his feet, Cruyff suddenly swivelled his hips through 180 degrees, and dragged the ball with him, leaving the defender marking thin air as he accelerated away.
14. The Rabona
The Rabona is one of the hardest skills to pull off in soccer, but also one of the most eye-catching. It involves crossing your legs to pass, cross or shoot a ball, using your stronger foot, even though the situation would appear to demand that you use your weaker side.
It is executed by placing your weaker foot next to the ball, leaning back with your arms outstretched and then swinging your kicking foot behind your planted leg.
Curl your foot in the air and then turn your shoulders to face your intended target, and then strike through the bottom of the ball.
15. The Panenka
The Panenka is the name given to a particular type of penalty. It is a high-risk manoeuvre, because whilst it is spectacular when it comes off, the shooter is left with egg on their face when it fails.
First named after Czech player Antonin Panenka who employed it in a penalty shoot-out in the 1976 European Championship Final, it involves running up to the ball on the penalty spot and, instead of hitting it either left or right, you give the ball a subtle dink so the ball goes down the centre of the goal.
To work, the ball must be hit with the right pace, and the goalkeeper needs to have anticipated and dived right or left first.
Final Thoughts …
Again, if you are a beginner, start by focusing on the easy to learn skills! These are the ones that will build the solid foundation of your game afterwards …
… Otherwise, if you feel really confident about the basics, then you can really start the learning process of the skills I’ve shared in this article!
Having a coach monitoring your learning process is a plus and would really be helpful!