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Looking to juggle a soccer ball huh?
Well, you have come to the right place.
Many young soccer players think juggling is a useless skill that doesn’t translate to the game, they couldn’t be more wrong.
In this article, we will tell you what you need to know to make you a great juggler, the benefits, and what pitfalls to avoid.
Let’s get started…
Benefits of Juggling a Soccer Ball
As we already mentioned, many players may thing juggling is a useless skill that really doesn’t have much to do with soccer and is just used for showing off. While you aren’t going to see any players do 10 juggles on the field during a game that doesn’t mean that juggling is useless, far from it. Juggling a soccer ball has many benefits that can help your overall game. These include:
- Better ball control – Juggling is an easy and fast way to improve your overall ball control.
- Improved first touch – First touch is a vital part of the game, juggling will improve your control and awareness when it comes to first touches.
- Improved skill with weaker foot – Many beginners do basically everything with their stronger foot and leave the weaker foot for the occasional touch and some dribbling when needed at most. Juggling will greatly improve your touch, ball control and confidence in your weaker foot so you can become an ambidextrous soccer player.
- Increased confidence – The confidence boost you get from being a good juggler cannot be measured but it is very noticeable
- Improved eye-foot coordination – Having good foot-eye coordination is essential to being a good soccer player, juggling is a great way to increase it.
- Helps with receiving the ball in the air – Want to be a master ball receiver? Juggling is a great way to get you there.
Now that we have gone over the benefits of juggling and how it can help your game, let’s go over some tips to get you jugging like a pro.
10 Best Soccer Juggling Tips
Now is where we get into what you came here for, the best tips to make you a better soccer ball juggler. Follow these tips and you will greatly improve.
#1 Train Consistently
I put this one at the top for a reason, it is the most important tip of all. If you want to be a good juggler you are going to have to practice. And that doesn’t mean just kicking the ball around once a week for a few minutes either. If you are really going to improve a lot you will need to will need to practice at least 5 days a week.
You don’t have to spend hours doing though, if you juggle just 15 minutes a day you can improve greatly in just a few weeks.
I hate to break it to you but just training a little here and there isn’t going to make much difference if any. In my experience, the players that are the best jugglers are the ones that practice it the most.
If you only follow one tip from this article make sure it is this one.
#2 Drop the Ball On Your Foot and Catch to Start
When you are very first starting out you want to simply drop the ball on your foot and then kick it back up to your hands and catch it. Try to make the ball go straight up like you would want it to if you were doing two juggles. Do this with your right and left foot.
When you get good enough at that drop the ball and juggle it twice then catch it. Once you get good at doing two juggles and catches with each foot you can then try for 3 and so on, you can also stop catching the ball each time.
#3 Use Both Feet
One of the biggest mistakes beginner jugglers make is only using their dominant foot. This is not what you want to do. I realize you can likely get more juggles if you use your dominant foot but one of the biggest benefits of juggling is improving your weaker foot. If you are just going to use your good foot the whole time you are really selling yourself short. Plus you really don’t want to be one of those people who can only juggle with one foot, those people look more ridiculous than impressive.
What I tell athletes to do is to spend 5 minutes juggling with only their right foot then 5 minutes juggling with only their left foot and then juggle with both feet for 5 more minutes.
Another way to do this is to play music and use your right foot only for a song, left foot only for a song then use both feet. The music makes the time go by faster and you can easily end up practicing for a half hour or more.
#4 Hit the Ball With the Right Part of Your Foot
When you are juggling it is important that you hit the ball with the right part of your foot or you will send the ball flying in the wrong direction.
Hit the ball with your toe and it may come flying back at you or go off any which way. Hit the ball too close to your ankle and it will go flying out away from you.
The spot you want to try and hit the ball with is the from about the bottom area of your laces to the bottom of your toes. This area will give you the most control and the best results.
The purple circle on the shoe below is where you want to hit the ball with your foot when juggling,
#5 Use a Ball That is a Little Under Inflated
When choosing a ball to juggle with a ball that is slightly under-inflated is the best choice. Balls that are over inflated or even properly inflated will bounce more and be more difficult to control. If you have a ball that is a little under-inflated (not flat) you will have the best results with that.
#6 Progress is Not Linear
One thing you should know is that progress in juggling a soccer ball is not linear. You can start out and improve over the first week or two then you have a couple days where you will think you are haven’t made any progress and that you stink, then you will have a good day then a bad day and so on.
The point is you won’t be breaking your own record every day, especially as your record gets higher and higher it will be harder to break, you can go for a week or two or even more without breaking a record and you feel like you are not getting any better, sometimes for several days in a row. DO NOT QUIT after a few bad days, it will get better, there are lots of ups and downs to becoming a good juggler, pun intended. Stick with it and you will get there.
#7 Don’t Kick Your Legs Up Too High
A common mistake new jugglers make is kicking their legs up too high when juggling the ball. In reality, you only want your feet to be kicking up a few inches off the ground basically just kicking the ball straight up and down with little kicks keeping it up there. Generally, the higher your leg goes the less control you have.
I know this is easier said than done especially when you are first starting out but you want to eventually get it so you are just doing little kicks.
The video later in this end of this article will demonstrate that.
#8 Use the Insides of Your Feet
Using the insides of your feet is a great tool in jugging and can really help you especially for those kicks when the ball is close to your body. For me personally, this is one of my favorite kicks when juggling that gives a lot of control, don’t forget to use the insides of those feet.
Also, use the tops of your thighs for this as well.
#9 Don’t Kick the Ball Too High
Another thing beginner jugglers do is kick the ball too high. Kicking the ball up high makes it much more difficult to control especially for beginners. When starting out you want to try and kick the ball up to only belly button height or lower.
When you get better you can mix in some higher kicks but try and keep the ball low when starting out and you will have better success.
* Of course, the ball will go high on occasion but try to keep it waist to belly button height or lower as much as possible for better success.
#10 Respect Your Record
People have a tendency to set a record, get overconfident and think that since they did that many once that they should be able to do it again without much trouble. It doesn’t work that way though. You may set a record then not be able to beat it for weeks, just because you did it once does not mean you can do it again right away. Respect your record but always be working to beat it.
One thing to pay attention to though is your average number of kick you are doing. While you may not break your record if you are practicing consistently your average number of juggles will go up.
For example, let’s say your record is 25 juggles. While you may not break that record for a couple of weeks you may notice your average number of juggles you can do has gone from about 6 to about 10. This means that you are improving even if you are not breaking your record. Keep an eye on your average number of juggles, it’s as important as your record.
Below is a good video tutorial by Soccer Reviews For You that is also really helpful.
Bonus Tip – Don’t Worry About Backspin
If you read a few articles or watch YouTube videos about juggling soccer balls you will get some people recommending you make sure to have backspin on the ball when jugging. This is not really necessary. While I do naturally have backspin on the ball when I juggle I have seen many great jugglers who don’t have any backspin at all.
If you do have backspin on the ball that’s fine, if you don’t that’s fine too. Do whatever works best for you.
Soccer Ball Juggling by Age
Obviously, the age of the player can have a huge effect on the number of juggles they will be able to do. We can’t expect a 6-year-old to perform the same amount of juggles as a 12-year-old would. They are simply too far apart development wise. Below is a chart of what would be a good number of juggles by age group.
Age Decent Juggler Record Highly Skilled Juggler Record
6-7 3-5 10
8-9 5-10 25-50
10-11 10-20 50
12-14 30 100
15+ 35 100+
- Practice consistently – You are not going to go from a record of 5 to 50 in a week. You will need to practice and do it consistently. Over time you will get better and better. Try to practice at least 5 days a week.
- Use both feet – Being able to use both feet in soccer is a necessity and juggling is a great way to help develop your weaker foot. If you only use your stronger foot you aren’t really helping yourself all that much and you look pretty foolish as a juggler who can only use one foot. Don’t be that person.
- Don’t kick the ball too high – Try and keep the ball below belly button height as much as possible for best results. The higher it goes the harder it is to control.
Those are all of the tips you will need to become a great juggler. It is not an easy skill and it will take time but if you train consistently you can become a great juggler which will help your game on the field as well. You will get frustrated along the way, everyone does, you just need to be determined and keep going and you will get to where you want to be. In the end, you will be glad you did.
Westlake U13 Girls Soccer Travel Coach
Ryan is a former college wrestler and lifelong fitness fanatic. He has run half marathons, done mud runs, placed in body transformation contests, coached wrestling and now coaches girls soccer. Not to mention he has also tried literally hundreds of supplements over the years and has a vast and thorough supplement knowledge. He has written for Muscle & Strength, Testosterone Junkie, The Sport Review and other publications. He is also the editor in chief of this website. Feel free connect with him on his LinkedIn page below.