If you want to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, there’s no doubt about it--you’re going to need to practice. And if you want your soccer career to extend to the next level, you’re also going to need master a few soccer skills. We’re rounding up some of the best drills to get your soccer skills up to expert level in no time.

First, Here’s Why You Should Incorporate These Skills Into a Daily Routine

soccer ball

A 2017 study by the University of Queensland found some surprising new data: while we think of speed and power as indicators of a star player’s success, it is skill that determines how much a player will impact his or her game.

Players with greater skill are better at passing and have better ball control. Soccer stars themselves admit to practicing for hours and hours and hours--often getting thousands of touches a day with the ball. This kind of practice isn’t flashy, but becoming one with the ball is vital to your success on the field.

A Thousand Ball Touches a Day

Since there’s only one way to develop skill (practice!), creating a daily routine will gradually put you leagues ahead of your teammates.

Creating a daily routine is also an important part of helping you build the stamina and motivation that you’ll need to play at a higher level. You can’t wait to practice till other people are around; you have to prove to yourself how much you want it, even when nobody else is putting in the work.

There are lots of great routines you can try--like this one from Simply Soccer on YouTube or this one that features pro soccer player Matt Sheldon’s daily routine. Or, put your own together using the rest of the skills and drills below.

1. Dribbling

Like basketball, dribbling is the most basic yet most important skill a player can learn. While basketball players use their hands to dribble the ball down the court, soccer players use their feet to guide the ball across the field.

This skill is necessary when playing defense or offense, for power plays or simple movement, and it must be done while dodging opposing players. Proper dribbling involves a soft touch and the ability to use both feet.

Don't wait until the game to practice dribbling. Being able to will help you get out of tight situations, keep possession of the ball, and be a dangerous offensive threat.

In this video, Dylan Tooby explains that when most people practice dribbling, what they’re doing is trying out different tricks. Instead, practice changing directions and accelerating and slowing quickly--these are the drills that will turn you into an offensive powerhouse who can hang on to the ball even in tight situations.

Get Better at Dribbling With These Drills

There are lots of drills that can help you get better at dribbling. Here are a few:

  • Set up 10-15 cones or other objects (water bottles work great) at close intervals and dribble the ball back and forth through them, using the inside and outside of your foot. You should be making very gentle, light taps and not sending the ball out so far that you need to use your other foot.
  • Keeping your feet about hip-width apart and your hips over the ball, dribble the ball between the insides of your feet. This will help you on the field when you’re stuck in tight places. To level up, move around with the ball around the field--but keep it inside your hips at all times. Repeat this at least 50 times.
  • Set up (or choose) a line that’s several feet across, and dribble the ball across the lane as fast as you can. The goal here is to practice dribbling at speed; you’ll take about two or three steps before each ball touch.

2. Passing & Receiving

Passing and receiving are technically two different skills, but because many of the best drills involve both soccer skills, we include them together.

Passing is a vital skill to learn not just because it’s an essential part of any good soccer game, but because a player won’t pass the ball unless he or she is willing to put the team’s needs first. In other words, passing indicates sportsmanship and a team player mentality, which is something talent scouts and upper-level coaches will be keen to find.

If your passing skills are weak, you’ll be less confident about passing the ball and less likely to do it. If your passing skills are strong, however, you’ll be able to manipulate the ball through some sticky situations.

Receiving is just as important, but for a more obvious reason: you won’t be able to show up your great ball handling skills, power, or speed if you can’t receive a pass! You’ll also potentially end up in a position that opens you up to losing the ball, a mistake you never want to make.  

Improve Your Passing & Receiving Skills With These Drills

Here are a few great passing and receiving drills to get you started:

  • Set up three cones (or water bottles or other objects) about four feet from a wall, and switch off passing the ball to the wall and receiving it on each side of the cone--your right foot on the right side and your left foot on the left side. Work up to two touches on each side, and keep the ball moving!
  • Stand about ten feet from a wall a practice passing the ball in front of you so that it returns straight to you. The goal is to receive the ball without letting it get underneath you and moving to pass it without bouncing it.
  • This drill needs two receiving walls set up across from each other, or one wall and another player. You’ll pass the ball to the wall, receive it on the return, turn, and pass it to the other wall. This will help you be able to change direction on a pass more quickly and effortlessly switch from receiving to passing.
  • Here’s another great passing and receiving drill that also requires two players: set up two cones ten to twenty feet apart, one in front of each player. Pass the ball back and forth around the cones either clockwise or counterclockwise. If you’re passing counterclockwise, receive the ball with the inside of your left foot and tap to the right with almost the same motion. Then, pass it to the other person with your right foot.
  • Our final passing and receiving drill doesn’t require another teammate, just a wall. Pass it to the wall and receive and pass it back with one touch, moving closer with each pass and then, once you get to the wall, moving away from the wall with each pass. This helps to simulate the different speeds at which you’ll need to receive passes in a game.

3. Shooting

Finally, the fun skill! Shooting is, no doubt, the soccer skill that gets the glory. And while you won’t get to the shooting position very often if your dribbling, passing, and receiving skills are poor, all those skills mean little if you can’t shoot when it’s necessary.

Shooting, contrary to what many people think, isn’t a guessing game, and it doesn’t require tremendous muscle strength. Instead, it’s about consistency and technique. This is good news since these are things that can be achieved through practice!

Further, while you might only shoot once or twice in a game (if at all), it’s such a critical skill that it must be practiced with as much dedication as any of the other soccer skills we’ve already mentioned.

Finally, don’t practice shooting with only your dominant foot. If you can shoot powerfully from either foot, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with!

Master Shooting With These Drills

Here are our two favorite drills for helping you enhance your shooting technique:

  • Line the ball up and shoot it into the goal down the middle, then alternate to all four corners of the goal, then switch to the other foot.
  • Practice planting your foot in a planting drill. Place the ball in line for the goal, and then run up to it with three or so steps. Line up your non-shooting foot so that it’s facing your target (make sure it’s very close to the ball and not too far away, too far in front, or too far behind) and shoot.

Mastering these three soccer skills with daily routines will take your soccer playing to the next level. Good luck!