Soccer dribbling drills

7 Tried & Tested Soccer Dribbling Drills

A soccer playing running with the ball at their feet is one of the most beautiful sights in soccer. Dribbling in soccer is a key skill required for almost any position. The soccer dribbling drills below will take your dribbling ability from beginner to advance.

Great soccer dribbling at speed can be the mark of an exciting, creative attacking player. All defenders hate players running at them with the ball. So, being able to dribble the ball with composure, speed and control can be the attacking difference a team needs to take opposition players out of the game and create goal-scoring chances.

Some of the most exciting players in the world are, and have been, fantastic dribblers. Think of Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Zidane – all have perfected the art and science of dribbling and could beat defenders with comparative ease.

Why use soccer dribbling drills?

Improve dribbling ability of all players. Wingers and attacking players. But also build confidence on the ball for defensive players who may not be beating opposition with the ball in games. Improve technical ability of all players. Also improve the first touch and control.

Allows players to be creative with the ball, come up with their own skills and dribbling tricks

It’s just plain fun!

When should you use these dribbling drills?

Early on in a soccer training session. Before they are fatigued so rest before. The aim is to complete them well

Tips for coaching dribbling drills

The focus should be on executing these dribbling drills with good technique and cleanly. The focus should not be on speed. Only once players ca perform the drills well should you encourage them to increase speed.

Players should have adequate rest in between drills so they are fresh and able to complete the drills well. Fitness drills can be separate to these. These drills are working on technique.

Keep the drills fun and add positive reinforcement wherever you can. Soccer players love trying to dribble the ball and you want to encourage them to keep trying these drills and trying new skills and tricks where they can.

Soccer Dribbling Drills

1. Soccer dribbling drill for beginners

This is a soccer dribbling drill for beginners which helps them practice moving with the ball in a straight line. It’s super simple to set-up and is good for any age. It can even be a great warm-up drill for more experienced soccer players.

Equipment needed:

  • 1 soccer ball per person
  • 2 cones (or markers) per person
  • approx 20-30 yards of space

Beginner soccer dribbling drill set-up:

  • The player stands next to one cone (or marker) with the ball at their feet
  • A second cone (or marker) is placed approx. 20 yards in front of the player
Soccer dribbling drill for beginners: set-up

Beginner soccer dribbling drill execution:

  • On the coach’s command, the player dribbles the ball toward the second cone
  • When the reach the second cone, they turn with the ball and dribble back to the start position
  • If this is done in groups, you can have players paired up, and a second player starts their dribble when the first player returns to the start point
Soccer dribbling drill for beginners: execution

Coaching tips:

  • Encourage players to use both feet when dribbling the ball
  • Encourage players to use their instep and outside of the foot when touching the ball
  • Try to discourage players from kicking the ball too far ahead of them (it must be under control)
  • Encourage them to try different styles of turns at the second cone (using both feet)

Progressions & variations:

  • The player is told to dribble the ball as fast as they can
  • A feeder player passes the ball into the dribbling player, who must start their dribble with their first touch
  • The player is only allowed to use their weaker foot
  • The player needs to dribble AROUND the second cone (or marker)

2. Dribble in & out of cones drill

This drill is a little tougher than the first drill as it requires soccer players to dribble in and out of set cones. This requires them to use different parts of their foot and challenges their lateral movement with the ball as well. It’s a great drill to use to encourage lots of little touches on the ball.

Equipment needed:

  • Approximately 10 cones
  • 1 soccer ball

Dribble in & out of cones set-up

  • Set up approx 8-10 cones in a straight line
  • Approx 2-3 yards between cones
  • Player starts with the ball on the first cone
Soccer dribbling in and out of cones set-up

Dribble in & out of cones execution

  • Player dribbles in and out of the cones to the final cone
  • When they get to the final cone, they turn and dribble back in a straight line to the start
  • If there are multiple players, they go to the back of the line
Soccer dribbling in and out of cones execution

Coaching tips:

  • Encourage players to use both feet
  • Encourage players to use the outside and inside of their feet
  • Encourage players to stay low to the ground for stability
  • Speed is secondary to good technique: players should be getting the drill right before they start to increase their speed

Variations & progressions:

  • Place the cones closer together to increase difficulty
  • Players should use their week foot only
  • Move every other cone approx 2 yards to the left to increase the turning difficulty between cones
Soccer dribbling in and out of cones variation

3. Random cones dribbling drill

This dribbling drill is a great drill to do on your own or with only a few players. You’ll need lots of cones but the instructions are simple to understand. It’ll give players a lot of touches on the ball and help to build their confidence moving with the ball at their feet.

Equipment needed:

  • Approximately 30–40 cones
  • 1 soccer ball

Random cones set-up:

  • Spread the cones approximately 1 yard apart in a random pattern roughly in a circle or square shape
  • Start with the ball at your feet anywhere in on the edge of or within the space
Random cones dribbling drill: set-up

Execution:

  • Player practices dribbling through the space in all directions while trying to avoid touching the cones with the ball
  • Player can change direction freely
  • The drill can be for a set time, such as 2 minutes, before resting
Random cones dribbling drill: execution

Coaching tips

  • Players should try to use both feet as much as possible
  • Players should try to use all areas of the foot, including inside, outside and sole
  • Emphasize having as many small touches as possible – the goal here is for the player to become completely comfortable moving the ball in all directions, using all areas of both feet, all in a tight area
  • Players should change direction repeatedly

Progression & variations

  • As the player becomes more comfortable on the ball, they can move it quicker and quicker with more direction changes
  • Starting from the outside, challenge the player to dribble the ball from one end to another as quickly as they can
  • Spread the cones out so they are 2 yards apart – this allows for slightly heavier touches and the player to move through the cones at a higher speed
  • Players can only use their weaker foot

4. Square & square dribbling drill

This soccer dribbling drill starts to add a little bit more complexity dribbling skills. It adds a direction component, as well as a target cone to dribble around. It adds a slight direction of dribbling as well, and can be done with large groups fairly easily.

Equipment needed:

  • 4 soccer balls
  • approximately 8 cones

Square & square dribbling drill set-up:

  • Mark out a square with cones/markers approx 15 x 15 yards
  • Mark out a smaller square approx 2 x 2 yards in the middle of the big square
  • Start with a minimum of 2 players at each of the outside cones
  • The first player at each cone have a ball at their feet
Square and square soccer dribbling drill set-up

Square & square dribbling drill execution:

  • Each player with a ball dribbles through the middle square and turns back out to the next player at the cone to their right (or left – coach to stipulate); they pass the ball to the next player
  • The player receiving the ball then performs the same drill
  • Instead of dribbling through the middle square, players can work on performing a specific turn in the square such as the following:
    • Outside hook
    • Inside hook
    • Cruyff turn
Square and square soccer dribbling drill execution

Coaching tips

  • Encourage players to keep their heads up when dribbling, particularly when passing through the middle square to avoid clashing with other dribbling players
  • Encourage players to keep the ball close to their body while dribbling
  • Coach the quality and execution of the individual turns to enable the players to change direction with the ball quickly

Square & square dribbling drill progressions & variations

  • Change direction of play (left to right or right to left) to encourage players to use the different feel for the turns
  • Stipulate right or left foot only
  • Players pass the ball after they have left the inner circle rather than dribble up to the next player
  • Players dribble around the cone back to the same corner of the large square that they started at
Square and square soccer dribbling drill variation

5. Jousting dribblers

Equipment needed:

  • 4 soccer balls
  • 2 cones

Jousting dribblers set-up:

  • Set out 2 cones approximately 12-15 yards apart
  • Line at least three players up behind each cone
  • Each player has a ball
Jousting dribblers set-up

Jousting dribblers execution:

  • The two players at the front of the lines dribble towards each other at the same time
  • Just before they meet in the middle, they perform a trick (coach to decide which trick to use and with which foot), ensuring the don’t bump into each other
  • They then dribble the ball to the back of the opposite line
  • The next two players in line follow on
Jousting dribblers execution

Coaching tips

  • Start the drill slowly, perhaps even at walking pace, to get the players used to the timing and execution of the trick; then speed it up as they progress
  • The focus of this drill is on the quality of the trick so you may need to teach the players how to perform each move
  • Examples of moves/tricks include:
    • Step-over using either foot (switch feet so players practice the move with both feet)
    • Double step-over
    • Feint one way – push off other way
    • Double feint (e.g. feint left, then right, then move off to the left)
    • Flip-flap (elastico)
    • Double drag-back
  • Encourage players to keep their heads up, so they can see how far away the opposite player is
  • Players should time their dribble and trick so both players do the trick at the same time using the same foot in the center of the square and move away from each other at the same time

Progressions & variations

  • Start with more simple tricks and move on to more complex ones such as the ‘double’ examples above
  • Players perform a trick and then a turn in the middle, and dribble to the back of the line they started from

Simplification

  • If the drill keeps breaking down, simplify it by placing a cone in the middle
  • One player goes one side of the cone, the other player goes the other side
  • Or, one player goes at a time, and they use the cone as a defender instead
Jousting dribblers variation

6. Dueling lines dribblers

Equipment needed:

  • 1 soccer ball
  • approx 10-15 cones

Dueling lines dribblers set-up:

  • Set up a line of cones approx 20-25 yards long
  • Use a few different color cones/markers to create 3 ‘gates’ in the line: 1 in the middle and 1 at each end
  • One dribbling player starts with the ball on one side of the line
  • One defending player starts on the other side of the line
Dueling lines dribblers set-up

Dueling lines dribblers execution:

  • The aim of the drill is for the dribbling player to dribble the ball through one of the 3 gates
  • The defensive player must try and tackle them at any of the gates
  • The dribbling player must move left and right with the ball to try and create space at one of the gates, where they can then try and dribble through
  • The drill runs for 1 minute or until the dribbling player dribbles through the gate
  • The players then reverse their roles
Dueling lines dribblers execution

Coaching tips

  • Encourage the dribbling player to use both feet to shift the ball left and right
  • Encourage the dribbling player to try different tricks and skills to create space
  • Encourage the defending player to stay low to the ground so they can turn quickly

Progression & variations

  • Create more or fewer gates in the line, to make it easier or more difficult for the dribbling player, respectively
  • Make the gates smaller or wider to make the drill easier or harder for the dribbling player, respectively
  • Dribbling player has to pass the ball through the gates when they get near to them, instead of dribbling through them
  • Place 1 ball at each gate (3 balls total); the dribbling player starts without a ball and must feint and move to try and run to one of the gates to dribble the ball through
Dueling lines dribblers variation

7. Beat the defenders dribbling drill

This dribbling drill is a more advanced drill that includes real defenders that need to be beaten while running with the ball. This much more closely replicates a real-life game situation. Keeping the defenders in strict areas decreases the difficulty and allows attacking dribblers to try more creative skills to beat their man.

Equipment needed:

  • 1 goal
  • At least 3 soccer balls
  • 8 cones
  • Minimum of 3 soccer players

Beat the defenders set-up

  • Set up two rectangular areas, approximately 8 by 3 yards wide
  • Set up the first rectangle approximately 12 yards out and the second 20 yards out
  • Goalkeeper starts in goal and one defender starts in each of the two rectangles, the remaining players form a line approximately 30 yards out, each with a ball
Beat the defenders set-up

Beat the defenders execution

  • The player at the front of the line must dribble the ball through each of the rectangular areas, beating the defenders then shooting at goal
  • Defenders cannot leave their coned area
  • Once the ball is dead (either the attacking player scores a goal, is tackled or the ball goes out of play) the player now at the front of the line starts the drill again
  • Rotate players so all get an equal go at the three positions (attacking player, 1st and 2nd defender)
Beat the defenders execution

Coaching tips

  • To build confidence, start by asking defenders just to apply passive pressure on the attackers, not to make tackles
  • Players can use any trick or skill to beat the two defenders
  • Encourage attackers to dribble at pace to make it easier to beat the defenders and create a game-like tempo
  • Encourage attacking players to try a range of different tricks and skills to beat the defenders

Progressions & variations

  • Allow defenders to tackle
  • Add a time limit to get shot away to emphasize the speed of dribbling
  • Remove defenders altogether – attackers just do a trick or skill as they pass through the coned areas
  • Add a second attacker in between the defender zones. So first attacker beats the first defender, passes to the second attacker, who tries to beat the second defender and score a goal
Beat the defenders variation