GENERAL POINTS FOR BALL CONTROL/FIRST TOUCH
Players must understand that ball control/first touch is not a means itself, but more an end to a means. A player must remember the four D’s to a good first touch:
- Decision-what surface are you going to use to control the ball/take your first touch? Are you going to use the inside of the foot, outside of foot or the laces etc.
- Direction-what direction will your first touch take you? Will it be straight ahead, to the left or to the right? Will it be back into pressure or away from it?
- Distance-How far/big will that first touch be? Will it be big enough to get you out of initial pressure, but short enough so I avoid additional pressure?
- Disguise-Can I keep my first touch hidden as to what surface I am going to use, the direction I am going to go and the distance of how far I go?
At the end of each control/first touch, a player will have four options to act on:
- Most often the player will control to pass the ball.
- In attacking third players will control to set up shots.
- The player may control the ball to dribble.
- The player may control to run with the ball.
With this in mind, the player should decide as the ball is in flight what he intends to do after controlling the ball, is he going to pass, shoot, dribble or run with the ball? The quality of the player’s first touch will often determine the quality of the action that follows. Many coaches instruct players to “trap the ball” before passing it.
The word “trap” suggests stopping the ball. Young players get into a bad habit of trapping the ball using the sole of the foot every time the ball comes to them. Trapping or stopping the ball with the sole of the foot can cause many bad habits for the player and limit the techniques he/she can use immediately after his/her first touch on the ball. Coaches should encourage players to use their first touch on the ball economically and effectively.
As opposed to trapping the ball with the sole of the foot, players should look to play their first touch out of the body and into a position that will allow them to perform a variety of techniques on their second touch. In general, players should look to play their first touch approximately one and a half yards in front and to the left side or to the right side.
By playing the ball out and in front of the body on the first touch, the player will improve in the following areas: Better all-around vision as eyes follow ball out and up and not focused down at the feet. Less chance of being caught in possession of the ball due to improved vision.