There are two types of control, receiving and trapping. Receiving means directing the ball into space away from the body. Trapping is stopping the ball right at your feet.
Receiving is useful when running into space. Try to make contact with the middle or top part of the ball. Tap it lightly in the direction you want to go. Good soccer players can settle the ball in open space, even when they are under pressure.
Trapping is typically used when the ball is going too fast to redirect with your first touch. The important thing to remember here is to try to stay loose and on your toes. You can’t adjust to the ball when you are flat footed. Try to keep your hips open, facing the direction from where the ball is coming. Put your foot in the path of the ball and cushion it.
The easiest way to practice control is with a partner. Your partner can throw the ball to you, after settling it with a single, clean touch, pass it back. If you do not have a partner you can use a wall. Stand about 3-5 meters away from the wall and knock the ball against it. You then trap or receive the ball as it comes back to you. This exercise allows you to work on both your kicking and control.
There are various methods of controlling a soccer ball, they include:
– Inside the foot: Your supporting foot must be planted 45-90 degrees in relation to the path of the ball. Don’t plant it flat, instead keep your weight on your toes. You should intercept the ball with the arch of your free foot.
– Outside the foot: This technique is useful when the ball is coming in from the side. Rather than turning your body into its path you can control it using the outside of your foot.
– Sole of the foot: Simply put your foot on the ball with your toes raised slightly above your heel. Some players use it to stop right before changing direction.
– Instep: This technique is useful when the ball is falling from a steep angle. Don’t just wait for the ball to arrive, stay on your toes and lock your eyes on it. Before the ball arrives, stretch the ankle of your controlling foot. Try to cushion the ball using the area around your shoelaces.
– Thigh: The thigh is especially useful when you want to trap the ball. Cushioning the ball with the thigh can be done for both rising and dropping balls. Make sure you position yourself properly before trapping the ball.
– Chest: The chest provides the largest surface area for trapping or receiving the ball. When using it for control, stretch out your arms and flex your muscles.
– Head: Set up your body just as if you’re about to head the ball. Instead of heading it, simply intercept its path using the surface area on your forehead.