Let’s face it. We all love great dribbles, fancy tricks, smart tackles and strong clearances. But what’s better to watch than a footballer controlling air balls like an airbender?
There are some basic rules and techniques to managing aerial passes. It’s difficult – no doubt; but it’s certainly not impossible. In fact, with these few tips, you will be well on your way to achieving greater air ball control – TODAY!
Soft stopping – make the ball stick to you
Every inexperienced footballer gets flabbergasted when he sees the ball approaching him with great speed through the air. Well, on the field, there’s no place for confusion.
Whenever you spot your teammate hauling a high pass to you or the opponent defence clearing the ball high and long, it’s your time to switch the soft game on.
Let the ball come to you, and try to make the first contact with your feet very softly. You can either use the inner face (90 degrees to the arc of the ball) or the upper face (where shoelaces sit, 0 degrees with the arc of the ball) of your prominent foot.
Let the ball rest with you and try to cushion the impact as best as you can. This is called soft stopping or trapping. If you exert power, the ball is invariably going to go away from you after impact. That’s not what we want, right?
Using your body
Another great way to drop the ball dead in front of you is to use your body itself. You can either cushion the ball with your chest or your thighs. Once the impact is absorbed, make a swift second move to get the ball down to your prominent foot and then take it from there.
What you need to remember is that it’s not always safe to chest the ball. Don’t ever chest a high ball in a match situation unless you have practiced it enough during training sessions.
One touch control for air balls
Once you have mastered the two techniques listed above, the next step will be to merge them both.
One touch control means anticipating an air ball, dropping it at your feet and then manoeuvring it wherever you want – all in one swift motion.
As you absorb the impact of the ball by cushioning it with your foot or your body, make sure that your prominent side is opened up to the opponent defence. This will allow you to move forward. Then get your best foot ahead and control the ball as if it belongs to you – because it really does!