Tactics board from youth module course

Coaching Session of the Month

Over the years at our grounds and on TV we have seen some fantastic examples of players who were masters of the dribble.

Chris Dowhan our County Coach Developer talks you through the art of dribbling. 

Matthews, Garrincha, Maradona, Best and Robertson are players that we loved to see take on and beat opponents. Some say it has become a dying art in this country, but young players who have watched global stars such as Messi and Ronaldo have developed a desire to emulate these modern day hero’s.

But things are changing. The evolution of the England DNA, which encourages players to stay on the ball and master the ball, has resulted in coaches challenging their players to do just that, to beat opponents in 1v1 situations using the art of dribbling.

So what makes a dribbler? Some say that there are those who are born dribblers, and those who need to be coached. I think that both are right. Who taught Messi to dribble? There are video clips of Messi playing at a really young age, beating players for fun, which would suggest that this was a natural skill for him. Other players who are now considered dribblers, such as Ronaldo, may have had to hone these skills through direction from a coach, and observing other players.

So how do you encourage dribbling in your players? What do you do about the player in your team who just wants to dribble, and is pretty good at it? Pressure will no doubt come from parents on the side line who constantly encourage the team to pass the ball. Research would suggest that, especially in the foundation phase, we as coaches should encourage ball mastery and the art of dribbling above passing. That’s not to say that passing should be neglected, as it can be incorporated into your sessions to encourage decision making in your players – when to pass and when to dribble.

As a coach, the choice is yours. Do you embrace dribbling in your players? producing skilful players, who excite spectators and coaches alike? It’s an art that’s returning to our game and the recent success of our young national teams, which contained players who lit up the games, shows we are getting there.  

Below you’ll find a really simple practice, which breaks down the techniques involved in dribbling. I delivered this practice at the recent Nottinghamshire FA Coaches Club CPD event at Joseph Whittaker school in Rainworth.

Coaching Session of the Month Dribbling 1v1

The practice involves three players as shown, one passes to two who attacks 1v1 and tries to dribble and beat two, before transferring the ball to three. Then two becomes the middle player and the practice repeats in the opposite direction.

So what are you going to coach? Well if you have a player who breezes past their opponent with ease, who you look at and think ‘Wow’ you should maybe leave well alone. You can use these players to demonstrate dribbling skills to their team mates.

Some of the things you should encourage your players to try include, feints, changes in direction, changes in speed, and different ways of unbalancing opponents. These can be delivered in a number of different ways, so use your imagination.