Turning the Soccer Ball

By Bruce Brownlee

Players turn the soccer ball against pressure with turning moves and attacking moves to create time and space to pass, shoot, or dribble.

It is usually safe for the player to play the ball in the direction the player is facing. However, players who can receive and turn the ball against intense pressure and in tight space, and who can then take on defenders to go to goal, are extremely valuable to their teams. Such players have the ability to compete and contribute at the most competitive levels.

Players who can not turn the ball against pressure, in general, can not advance past intermediate levels of play.

This article describes about 23 different turning moves for facing goal, defender on side, and back to goal situations. Players can practice these turns and gain quickness with them at home. At the end of the attachment, there is a short technical progression that illustrates how a coach might build a practice to improve turning skills.

Creating Space
Soccer players use turning moves to create space for themselves. This relieves pressure and allows room to pass, shoot, or dribble. Practice these turns at home until you can use each quickly under pressure.

Turning with Defender on Side
Stop - step on ball to stop it, come back to collect it

Cruyff - pull ball back under body with inside of foot.

Kick Turn - sole of foot away from defender on top of pull, pivot toward defender with foot nearest defender, kick ball back, turn to goal, collect ball with foot away from defender

Stop and Stepover - stop ball with sole of foot away from defender, step past ball with same foot, turn away from defender and step over ball back toward own goal with foot nearest defender, turn again toward goal and play away with foot away from defender

Turning while Facing an Opposing Defender and Goal
Drag Back - v move with ball, pull on top or cut on side to control

Cut Behind Standing Leg - cut the ball behind standing leg

Drag Back with Cut - combine a drag back to one side with cut behind to other side.

Inside Twist Off - cut the side of ball with inside of foot 4 times

Outside Twist Off - cut the side of the ball with outside of foot 4 times

Fake Twist Off - cut the ball 3 times with outside in one direction, once with inside other direction

Maradona - stepover ball and pull it on top as you go

Turning with Back to Goal
Inside Cut - cut the side of the ball with the inside of foot

Outside Hook - cut the side of ball with outside of foot

Stepover - stepover ball, use outside hook

Body Swerve - step across line of play with one foot quickly to outside, play ball away to other side with outside of other foot.

Double Body Swerve - same as Body Swerve, except swerve step to left then to right (or vice versa) before playing ball away with outside (little toe) of left foot.

Dead Touch - then use outside hook with same foot

Zero Space - one foot steps away from defender, pivot, and caress and pull ball with inside of front foot as you turn hips to goal

Klinsmann - drag, turn into defender and chip over tackle

Kian Turn - when chasing ball to own goal, crossover step over ball, pivot on crossover foot bringing body over ball butt first, zero space ball away from opponent with other foot, face opponent, play away.

Keegan Fake Pass - inside cut to one side, fake pass or shot with leg swing to same side, inside cut to other side, play away.

Keegan Stepover - receiving ball from direction of own goal, approach ball at 45 degree angle, step over ball with leg closest to touch-line, let ball run under, pivot and turn towards touch-line and then goal-line, play away.

Cushion / Pop Turn - receive ball from air, pop ball over head with thigh, turn opposite direction, collect ball and play away.

Key Points when Playing Back to Goal
Back to goal, check away first before showing for ball.
Come back hard to ball at 45 degree angle.
Mix change of pace and change of direction with fakes that appear to have change of pace or change of direction.
If can't turn, back to goal, either play the direction you are facing or come away at 45 degree angle with ball to create space behind and use a back heel to get ball into path of runner going to goal.

Exercises with Team
Perform each of the turning moves without pressure in space, self serve. Work each move to either side. Focus on technique.

Perform each of the turning moves after receiving the ball from partner, no pressure. Do them faster to increase pressure.

Turning on ball from server with light, then greater, pressure of opponent.
Two servers with balls 30 yards apart, 1v1 in middle. Server passes to middle player, who turns and plays ball to other server acting as target player. Alternate servers each time. After 60 seconds, change roles in middle, then switch in servers.

2v2 game to small goals, use two zones to create 1v1 in each zone. Start play with pass from supporting player outside defending zone to player in defending zone. Player receiving ball must work to turn ball and to pass it into the attacking zone. Attacking zone player must turn ball to get shot on goal.

Finally, move onto small-sided game, no restrictions.

Bruce Brownlee coached boys soccer from 1978 to 1988 in Marietta, Georgia.  Coached girls teams from 1988 to 2003 for Tophat Soccer Club in Atlanta and AFC Lightning Soccer Club in Fayetteville, Georgia.  Served as a staff ODP recruiter and coach in 2002-2003.  Returned in 2010-2011 to help coach his granddaughter’s U11 team.  Won 4 state cup championships at Tophat.  Proud of his four children who played top-level club soccer and amateur and college soccer later. His site Soccer Coaching is a terrific resource for club and amateur soccer coaches.

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