What Are the Fundamental Skills in Soccer?
Soccer is a sport unlike almost all others, as the feet are needed for technical skills more than the hands. A number of fundamental skills are needed to play soccer, with advanced players able to build on the fundamental skills for more complex and precise dribbling, passing and shooting. The skills of a soccer player also vary from one position to another, with a goalkeeper needing much different skills than a field player.
Passing is one of the most fundamental skills in soccer, as it is how you move the ball from yourself to another teammate. For a short basic pass, you will turn your foot 90 degrees to the outside and swing your leg so that the inside of your leg makes contact. If you want to send the ball farther, you will swing your leg with more power and aim for the lower half of the ball, to pop it into the air and use the inside of your toes.
Receiving a Pass
Whether you are receiving a pass that is on the ground or traveling through the air, you will want to square your shoulders to the direction the ball is coming from. If it is on the ground, turn your foot toward the outside as if you were passing, and with your knees bent, cushion the ball so it stops right at your feet. For a ball traveling through the air, you will most likely want to receive the ball with your chest. Stand with your back arched slightly backwards so when the ball hits your chest, it will pop gently into the air and then land at your feet, rather than bounce off out of your control.
There are a number of unconventional ways to score a goal, but the fundamental way to try to score is by taking a shot. When shooting, your plant foot, follow through and where you contact the ball are all important. You will want to place your non-shooting foot just outside the ball, with your toe pointing at the direction you are aiming to shoot. Swing your leg through the ball, aiming higher on the ball if you want to keep it low or lower on the ball if you want to send it through the air. Follow through with your shooting leg, in a hopping motion that brings your plant foot off the ground, and land on the foot you shot with for the most power.
Outside of passing, dribbling is the primary method of moving the ball up the field. This works best when you have open field in front of you without pressing defenders. Most players find success using the top of their foot to push the ball along the ground when passing, and the more advanced you get the more parts of your foot you will be able to use when dribbling. The goal of dribbling is to move the ball quickly while keeping the ball close to your body, so that you can make a quick decision to pass, shoot or change direction whenever needed.
The goalkeeper is the last line of defense, in charge of doing whatever possible to keep the ball out of the net. As goalie, you can use your entire body, including your hands and arms, to stop the ball. The best way for a goalie to catch the ball is to form a "W" with your thumbs and index fingers, with your hands open and palms facing away from you. This will help you catch a ball traveling at a high speed without it going through your hands. The other fundamental skill for goalies is punting, which is how you distribute the ball upfield after making a save. Hold the ball over your dominant foot, and then drop the ball as you swing your foot, making contact and sending the ball through the air. Land on your "shooting" foot on your follow through like you are taking a shot.
- Sekendiz B, Cuğ M, Korkusuz F. Effects of Swiss-ball core strength training on strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance in sedentary women. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(11):3032-40. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181d82e70
- Yu W, Cha S, Seo S. The effect of ball exercise on the balance ability of young adults. J Phys Ther Sci. 2017;29(12):2087-2089. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.2087
Chris Callaway started writing professionally in 2007 and has worked as sports editor, managing editor and senior editor of "The Racquet" as well as written for the "La Crosse Tribune" and other newspapers in western Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a Bachelor of Arts in English and communications.