Midfielders are the core component of any soccer team! I can even say that a strong midfielder often means a strong soccer team …
… In this article, I breakdown 15 essential soccer skills with drills for midfielders!
If you can master only 50% of these you will do just fine.
So, let’s dive in!
Important Tip: To properly practice those skills, I strongly recommend to use soccer shoes with decent Quality and reliable Grip to perform at the best of your abilities. You can have a quick look at these quality soccer cleats to get an idea!
1. Accurate Passing
Passing is easy, however passing with precision is quite hard and requires some practice!
A midfielder who can pass accurately and at the right time, will be able dictate the match rhythm as well as continually create opportunities to score for forwards and strikers.
You can practice this skill in so many different ways. One effective drill is the passing plays in threes.
- Players are positioned in a row, with player B in the middle, with 20 yards distance from players A and C on the sides.
- The ball is with the middle player B who passes it to player A and goes in his place.
- Player A when he gets the ball should move a few yards on the side, and pass it to player C and go in his place.
- Player C sends the ball to the other side, where is player B now, and goes to his place.
- Players are sending the ball to each other from side to side, constantly changing their position, ensuring that the movement of the ball is not interrupted.
Be sure to keep your head up before passing the ball, in order to see the position of your teammates on the field. Accuracy is essential here, and aim to pass the ball straight to a teammate’s feet.
2. Solid Ball reception
Receiving the ball is the player’s ability to stop the ball when it goes towards him in a way that ensures the control of it.
If the midfielder does not have a good reception of the ball, this often means that his team will lose possession to the opposite team which could lead to some dangerous counter attacks, thus conceding unnecessary goals!
Receiving the ball in doubles is a great drill to practice pass reception!
The 2 players pass the ball to each other and the goal is to receive the ball with the sole and then to make a pass with the inside of the foot.
This exercise can be changed by receiving the ball with the inside or outside of the foot, which will help players become more versatile!
3. Ball control
Ball control with different parts of the body, such as the feet, legs, chest or head is another essential skill for a midfielder.
Great ball control will allow the player to retain possession and successfully protecting it from opponents. This is a crucial part of ball possession game.
A solid exercise to arrange a few cones in a row and run with the ball between and around them.
The ball can be controlled either only with a dominant foot or with non-dominant foot, or with both.
4. Dribbling efficiently
Dribbling represents the skill of a player to get past an opponent in a duel game while keeping the ball in feet all the time.
In fact, sometimes the opponent team might apply some high pressure to the point that the midfielder can’t find opportunities to pass the ball. In such a situation, dribbling could be a solid alternative to keep possession and create opportunities.
Dribbling can be practiced using cones as aids. Arrange the cones on the left and the right side of the marked area.
When you are moving on the right side, bend the ball toward left with your right foot, when you are on the left side bend the ball toward right side with your left foot.
Keep in mind that efficient dribbling is a skill that also forwards need to master … You can learn more about these important soccer skills for forwards!
5. Shooting with bad intentions
Most scored goals by midfielders are by shooting! It is mainly performed with feet yet some people still consider that heading to score is also a form of shooting.
When it comes to shooting, two elements are of vital importance
- And precision
Many famous midfielders have made a name for themselves with some legendary shots from a distance like Steven Gerrard and Clarence Seedorf.
An additional quality for any player is the ability to place a good shot with both feet.
The simplest exercise for shooting from a distance is with the help of a coach who will place the balls for you to shoot.
Put a dozen balls about thirty yards from the goal. Then pass one by one to the coach who pushes the balls back to you and you shoot at the goal.
Try to practice kicking with both feet. You should do this exercise straight toward the goal, as well as from both sides.
6. Shielding Ability
Shielding Ability is the ability to protect the ball from an opponent with his body!
It is used in situations when the player is in a small space or when he is under pressure from the opponent. The player uses the body to provide the distance between the ball and the opponent and secure the ball.
As a drill, limit small space with cones. One player leads the ball inside the space and then player B enters that space to take the balls away from him.
The player with the ball has the task to hold the ball for a certain time interval, using his body as a shield.
7. Wide Vision
Vision represents the skill of players to analyze field conditions in order to find the right solution!
It is closely related to space awareness. The midfielder must know at all times the positions of his players on the field and their movements.
Before receiving the ball, he should know to whom he will direct it. You should always keep your head up to know the situation on the field.
Here you can apply an exercise with simple ball guidance. Practice moving the ball in a straight line first, with your head always kept up.
Afterwards, try moving the ball in other directions, around the cones, with the same head position. You will get used to moving around without keeping the head down, which will improve your vision of the game.
8. Movement without the ball
This skill is really important as it helps midfielders to run away from the opponent and opens himself for the pass of his teammate.
In soccer, a very small amount of time is spends in contact with the ball. Therefore, movement without the ball really crucial.
Barcelona is the team that marked the previous decade by using the movement of players without the ball.
Their players acted as if they could hold the ball in their possession for a few days. Soccer has become a dynamic sport, with the demands of constant movement without the ball.
Exercises that can be implemented to move without the ball are 2 on 2, 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 games in a limited space.
The player here is required to move constantly without the ball and escape from the keeper.
The main task of the exercise is to practice using empty space to make yourself open for teammate’s pass.
9. Decision Making
Decision Making is a vital skill for midfielders. It represents the ability to pick the best solution out of many alternatives on the field.
It requires the player’s self-confidence and that he keeps calm when under pressure!
Players like Luka Modric look like they are programmed on the field, because almost every one of his passes is perfect and the play is so elegant that it is a pleasure to watch players like him.
Something similar was noticed with Xavi in Barcelona, who was the main creator of this team’s game.
To practice decision making you can use a 1 on 1 game with an assistant player for the one who has the ball.
Player A has the possession of the ball. Player B confronts him, and he must make the right choice and decide whether to dribble or try to pass it to and play a return pass with the player on the side.
Stamina is the ability of a player to run a large mileage during a certain time period. Midfielders have a huge radius of movement and cover large areas.
Therefore, they must be physically prepared for these kinds of challenges. They move a lot both with the ball and without the ball.
Many exercises can be implemented here. Running a certain number of laps around the field, or just running for a certain time interval.
Repeat running certain distances in multiple series.
Endurance is the capability of long-term mental or physical work. It represents the ability of a soccer player to continue playing at the same level, despite exertion, stress or fatigue during a match.
It refers not only to the physical readiness but also to the mental strength of the soccer player to continue to play at the same pace, regardless of the fatigue he feels or the challenges of the playing field.
Exercises to improve endurance are versatile. Shuttles are great endurance exercises.
Place three cones at a distance of 10, 20 and 30 yards. The player runs at maximum speed until the first cone and then returns to the start line.
After reaching it, instantly goes for a run to the second cone. After reaching the second cone, once again the player returns for a moment to the start, and then makes a final run to the third cone.
All the runs must be done at maximum effort and speed. After the final run to the third cone, the player slowly returns to the starting line, which should relax muscles gradually.
12. Necessary Speed
Speed is one of the basic and most important skills of soccer players. Even though a player can control the ball well, if he is slow in running, it will be easy for the opposing player to take it away from him.
Speed allows the player to reach the ball before the opponent’s player. Speed is important at both shorter and longer distances.
Improve your speed using cones. Place several cones in zig zag position on a short distance from each other.
Then place one cone farther from them. Run at maximum pace between the cones, and on exiting cones area run at maximal speed to the last cone, placed farther. After reaching it, walk to the start line, in order to relax your muscles.
13. Overall Strength
Strength is the ability of the player to withstand all the efforts required by the duel game and to emerge from that duel as the winner.
Especially midfielders are exposed to a lot of contact play during the game. They are in constant clash with defensive and offensive players from opposing team, often being surrounded.
In order to endure all the pressure, a large amount of body strength is needed.
Exercises that are efficient to implement here are going to the gym, doing push-ups, sit-ups, exercises with and without weights. Building up body strength will make midfielders more resistant in a duel game.
14. Clean Tackling
Tackling is one skill that is generally associated with defenders. It is the ability of taking the ball away from the opponent.
The winner of the match is usually the team that wins the battle in the middle of the field. That is why tackling is important to midfielders too.
Midfielders, in addition to offensive tasks, must also have great defensive responsibility. That will allow them to prevent their opponent’s playing actions and win the battle in the middle of the field.
The best way to practice this is by playing 1 on 1 in a small, limited space. The goal is to take the ball away from the opponent, without going out of the marked area.
15. Movement Coordination
Movement Coordination is the ability of successfully resolving situations in soccer with quick and effective movements. It represents the skill to integrate movement of several body parts, into one, coordinated move.
Cones, ladders, obstacles, hoops are some of the equipment that can be used for coordination exercises. There are number of coordination exercises you can do.
One such exercise is with hoops, where you can practice running with one leg per each hoop, both legs in a hoop, running sideways, jumping.
It is very important in these exercises to do them the fastest you can, in order to improve legwork. Additional advice is keeping the knees as high as possible.
Final Thoughts …
Hope those skills I’ve listed were eye opening for you! I know that you are probably familiar with most of these, yet I’ve made sure to include some obscure ones that you might not been aware of like Decision Making …
… Many of those skills would apply to other positions, so even if you are not an actual midfielder you can still relate to those.
Lastly, i’ve recently put together a helpful article where you can check some easy to learn soccer skills! They are really effective and you should have a look at them, I believe …