Blog: Solo football skills
Anyone who grew up with a football at their feet will remember ‘One Man Wembley’ – usually with a long-suffering goalkeeper receiving pot shots from 20 giggling ‘star strikers’. Better known as your mates.
The aim was to advance to the next round by scoring before everyone else. Or until you were called in for tea. The winner was crowned when everyone else had been knocked out.
But this was a game played by groups of youngsters, all determined to bundle each other over in the quest to be the next Ronaldo – so what if you’re on your own and don’t fancy being ‘selected’ for goalkeeping duties?
Thankfully, there are plenty of options to practice the beautiful game alone.
It sounds obvious but get the ball in the air for as long as possible and once you’ve done that, try other challenges. The ‘two low, one high’ juggle means taking two touches at low height, then a third above your head before controlling it once again with your feet.
The ladder, meanwhile, starts with juggling the ball with your feet before moving to your knee, your head and back to your feet again. Feeling brave? Try right foot, right knee, right shoulder, head, left shoulder, left knee, left foot. And then back again.
Nobody said it would be easy, so take your time and do the best you can.
The wall! Ah, the wall – a fine practice partner for countless youngsters. Start off with two touch and one touch passive against a wall, all the time keeping control with both feet. Use the instep and outside of your feet, keeping your head up at all times.
Increase the speed of shots or even lengthen them as you move through the exercises and eventually try your new-found juggling skills against the wall.
Once again, the wall is your chum. Add some tape targets in high and low positions for consistent aim and don’t forget to mix your range of shots.
It’s also important to combine both feet when practicing shooting – strong and weak sides, while moving between the inside and outside of your boots. Finally, add a skill move before every shot.
You don’t need fancy cones from Sports Direct for this one. Jumpers for goalposts will be fine – in fact, whatever you’ve got to hand. Arrange your obstacles to make sure you’re working through a challenging routine and adjust speed as you improve.
Make sure you use both feet, while moving the obstacles closer together to improve accuracy. Regular changes of direction are important, as is looking up and mimicking game situations.
It is so important to be comfortable with the ball at your feet. First touches become second nature and you can consistently focus on your next move. So how can you do this alone?
Little touches between both sides of your feet can get you started, before moving on to more challenging situations. These can include dragging the ball back with five taps, before exploding forwards with a stable touch.
Alternatively, push the ball forwards with the outside of your foot before dragging it back with your studs. Or you can try pushing the ball forwards before pulling it back past your planted leg and then bringing it forward from behind.
There are, of course, other drills you can try alone, but always remember to keep your head up and imagine you’re in a game situation.
With time, you’ll be a master of One Man Wembley – or at least until tea is ready.