I would say that most coaches believe that it’s very important for all soccer players to be very comfortable with the ball at their feet. How they go about developing this confidence varies widely from one coach to another. Some will focus on fast footwork exercises, others will use cones or other obstacles to encourage players to keep the ball under control.
I’ve had the most success using fakes and moves to train ball control, creativity and 1 v 1 ability at the same time. The moves engage the player’s imaginations and make it fun to practice. I discussed which moves I like to teach young players in a post in May of last year. There are so many different moves as well as variations of the same move that it can be difficult to know where to start.
A great place to start is a video series called, “Legendary 1 v 1 Moves“.
These videos show detailed description of how to do 15 different fakes and moves. This a not only a great resource for coaches but also for players who are looking for training that they can do on their own. Mastering these moves will help a player be more confident on the ball because they know that they can create dangerous goalscoring opportunities even when their teammates are not available for a pass.
I wrote a series of posts on training 1 v 1 . They were progressive and started with a two-line exercise. Then I describe a team competition that encourages the players to be creative in a competitive environment. Next, the players play a 1 v 1 rotational game. Finally, I have the players compete in a 1 v 1 round robin evaluation that tests their ability to create and finish goal scoring chances in short games against each of the other players.
Training players to be creative in 1 v 1 situations is a long process that requires patients and the understanding that players will make mistakes, lose possession and potentially concede goals that they wouldn’t if they, “kept it simple”. But I believe that the long term benefit of creating confident, skill players far outweighs any short term negatives.
Have a great day!