Juggling a soccer ball is one of the most fun and impressive tricks you can do for fun.
Sure, it won’t win you any competitive matches, but it’s something neat that you can pull off in training to show off your ball control skills and impress your teammates.
The trick is to keep the ball in the air without touching the ground, using any part of your body except your hands and arms.
A professional soccer player will be able to keep the ball up in the air for as long as they want without losing control and dropping it.
However, this is the result of many years of training and practice to become as good at the sport as they are.
In this in-depth guide, we’ll be giving you all the key tips and information you need to become a soccer ball juggling pro and impress your teammates.
It should always be remembered, though, that soccer juggling mastery can only come through practice and commitment, so make sure you get outside and keep trying after you finish reading this!
Preparing To Juggle
Before you can start practicing your soccer ball juggling, you need to have everything prepared to succeed.
Of course, the first place to start is the surface you intend to play soccer on. You’ll want to make sure your playing surface is flat and free of any obstacles that could get in the way if you start to lose control of the ball.
A soccer field is an ideal place for this because it will often be relatively free of divots, bumps, and obstacles like trees or bushes.
However, indoor venues can be just as effective. For example, an indoor soccer or basketball court will have enough open space for you to try out this skill.
Although, for most people, practicing in the comfort of your own home is the most ideal scenario.
If you have a large enough backyard that you won’t find yourself bumping into obstacles, you should definitely give that a try for your practice area.
Also, you should only use your backyard as a practice zone if it has a flat, even surface that is made up entirely of grass or a concrete patio.
You don’t want to be constantly switching from one surface under your feet to another while you’re practicing.
Of course, the clothing you wear while practicing the skill of juggling a soccer ball will largely depend on your playing surface.
Wear something that you feel comfortable with on your body. Something like a soccer jersey or t-shirt will be fine on the top half of your body.
Shorts are a good way to go because they won’t restrict your movement either.
However, if you’re training outside, and it’s cold, feel free to wear some longer sweatpants instead.
Essentially, comfort is the main priority when it comes to training clothes.
What you wear on your feet is even more important. You need to make sure you’re wearing shoes appropriate for soccer if you want to have any chance of controlling the ball.
Soccer cleats are perfect if you’re training on a grass surface like a soccer field. However, astroturf soccer shoes will work just as well on this surface too.
Even if you’re practicing indoors, you shouldn’t wear a regular pair of running shoes, as the top surface of these are not designed for controlling a soccer ball. The same is true of things like basketball sneakers.
Instead, try to wear anything that you would use in a real soccer match, either indoors or outdoors.
This will give you the best opportunity to practice properly and master the basic skills and techniques.
Of course, having the right kind of soccer ball is also important to ensure success.
For starters, the size of the ball you choose will largely depend on how big you are as a player.
Smaller balls tend to be better suited for younger players who are still growing, whereas larger ones are usually recommended for older kids and adults.
As long as you pick a ball that fits your age group, then you should be able to find one that suits you perfectly.
There are many sizes of soccer balls that you can choose from, but the best one will be suited to your age.
For example, the standard size of soccer ball used in professional, senior matches is a size 5. In fact, this size will even be appropriate for players aged as young as 13/14.
However, players younger than 13 should start to think about what size will be most appropriate for them.
If you’re aged younger than 13, and you play regularly for a team, there will be rules set out in your league/competition about which size ball should be used for matches.
Therefore, this is also the size you should be practicing with.
Starting To Juggle A Soccer Ball
Once you’ve established an adequate place to practice, and you have the appropriate clothing and equipment for the job, it’s time to think about how to start juggling the ball.
As with most things in soccer, your posture and body position for juggling the ball is essential for success.
When you first begin juggling the ball, you’ll probably want to hunch your back and somewhat lean over the ball.
While this might seem instinctive for keeping control over the ball and maintaining balance, there are much better ways to do it.
Instead of leaning way over the ball, keep your knees slightly bent and tilt your head down slightly, rather than hunching your back so much.
Of course, you’ll want to stay light on your feet, and it can be beneficial at first to try and stay on your toes as much as possible to keep your movements quick.
Your arms will also provide a great deal of balance for you if you keep them in the right place. Try and keep your arms out slightly to the side with your elbows bent.
Just like if you were walking along a tightrope, your arms will act as balancing measures to make sure your feet and, more importantly, the ball stays roughly central to you.
Dropping The Ball
Despite how it may sound, ‘dropping the ball’ is actually a good thing in this case!
Particularly if you’re a beginner at soccer juggling, dropping the ball from your hands is a good way to start off the juggling in a controlled manner.
If you want to maintain even closer control, you should drop the ball from roughly chest height and allow it to bounce before kicking it at all.
However, if you’re a slightly more advanced soccer player, you might want to think about a more creative way to get the ball in the air.
The alternative to simply dropping the ball from your hands to start the juggling is called a flick up.
This involves flicking the ball upwards using your feet, and there are plenty of different ways you can do it.
One of the easiest ways is by placing your foot on top of the ball, rolling it back towards you, and then flicking it up with the toes of the same foot.
After a while, this should feel pretty natural, and you could move on to the variety of other ways to flick up a soccer ball.
Kicking The Soccer Ball
Now, it’s time to think about how to actually kick the soccer ball to keep it in the air for as long as possible.
Theoretically, your aim is to kick the ball straight upwards, without it moving too far to the side or in front of you so that it will always be within kicking reach.
Which Part Of The Foot Should I Use?
Whenever you kick the ball, you should be aiming to use the top part of your foot to kick it.
This is also referred to as the laces because this is where the laces of your cleats are.
If you misplace the ball on your foot for a kick, it could fire off to the side or out in front of you, causing you to lose control and drop the ball to the floor.
It’s best not to kick the ball with any other part of your foot unless you have to.
If you find yourself kicking the ball with your heel, or the side of your foot, it’s probably because you lost control and need to recover the ball back to the centerline.
Just like your overall body shape while juggling, your foot shape and position will determine your success when juggling the ball.
Unlike when you strike the ball during a soccer game, either as a pass or a shot, most of the power for juggling comes from your foot and your ankle, rather than your whole leg.
When you swing your leg forward gently to kick the ball, your toes will be pointed slightly, in a natural, comfortable position.
Then, when you make contact with the ball, flick your foot upwards, quickly, to generate most of the power that will propel the ball upward.
The main benefit of kicking the ball this way for juggling is that it puts a backspin on the ball.
Backspin is very useful for juggling because it will help to prevent the ball from traveling too far away from you and will help to maintain the centerline.
Keeping Control Of The Ball
The main thing to keep in mind while juggling a soccer ball is to maintain control and keep it where you want it.
To do this, you should try to find a rhythm for how quickly you kick the ball, how high you kick it each time, and how often you touch it.
As soon as you lose control of the ball, it will fall to the ground, and you’ll have to start all over again.
When you’re starting out, you should aim to kick the ball to roughly chest height. This gives you enough time with the ball in the air to prepare your body for the next kick.
However, as you practice more, and improve, you can afford to kick the ball less high each time because you’ll have greater control over where it will go.
How To Practice Juggling A Soccer Ball
Now that we understand the basics of juggling a soccer ball, let’s go through each level of ability, in order, to give you an idea of how to progress to the next stage once you’ve mastered one technique.
1) Complete Beginner
If you couldn’t juggle a soccer ball to save your life, you’ll be starting out at this stage.
You should start each juggle attempt by dropping the ball from chest height, out of your hands.
Then, let the ball bounce off of the floor once before kicking it.
Don’t try to kick the ball multiple times with each juggle. Instead, focus on kicking the ball straight upward once and catch it in your hands. Then, try it again.
As a complete beginner, you won’t necessarily get the ball straight up in the air as you want it to on every attempt.
Don’t worry, though, this stage is all about getting the hang of the kicking motion for juggling a soccer ball.
2) More Than One Kick
Once you’ve gotten the hang of kicking the ball straight up a single time, you can start adding multiple kicks into a single juggle.
In this stage, you don’t have to worry about the ball not touching the ground. Allowing it to bounce once off the floor between kicks is a good way to help you maintain control.
Even if you need to catch the ball in your hands after every few kicks, work on chaining multiple kicks together to gain some confidence in juggling the ball repeatedly.
3) Using Both Feet
Until this point, you’ve probably been using your stronger foot to kick the ball, but this really limits the extent to which you can maintain full control over the ball.
Using the same simple pattern as the previous stage (dropping the ball and allowing it to bounce between kicks), try alternating which foot you use to kick the ball up.
For example, you could drop the ball and then kick it with your left foot or vice versa.
4) Avoiding The Ground
Ok, now it’s time to start juggling for real. In this stage, you’ll be trying to kick the ball repeatedly into the air without it touching the ground.
Again, you can start by dropping the ball from your hands, but try not to let it hit the ground between kicks.
Here, you’ll have to use both feet to make sure you keep control over the ball.
If you try to use only your strong foot in this stage, you won’t be able to regain control of the ball if you lose it, and your kicking leg will get tired pretty quickly.
You don’t have to go straight to juggling like a pro at this stage. See if you can do 3 kicks before catching the ball in your hands. Then, increase that number gradually as you improve.
5) Using Your Knees
By now, you should have the hang of juggling the soccer ball with your feet. Now, it’s time to start getting other body parts involved.
The next logical step is to get the ball up your body, onto your knees.
While juggling, kick the ball slightly higher than normal, then use your knee to hit it upwards, before going back down to your feet to continue.
It might take some practice and time to get used to this, but eventually, you should be able to seamlessly switch between using your feet and your knees to juggle the soccer ball.
6) Using Your Chest
Again, we’re working our way up the body with this next stage. You can either kick the ball with your foot or use your knee to get the ball up to chest height.
Then, use your chest to touch the ball out in front of you and go straight back into juggling with your feet.
7) Using Your Head
Headers are a key part of soccer gameplay, and the same is true of juggling a soccer ball.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of using your chest to control the ball while juggling, try to get your head involved in the same way.
It’s easiest to kick the ball very high into the air, and use your head to touch the ball slightly up and in front of you so that you can catch it on your foot again.
If you get really good at this, you could even try hitting the ball up multiple times in a row with your head!
However, you should bear in mind that this is only something that very good soccer players can do.
8) Using Your Shoulders
The final body part we’re going to look at using for juggling is your shoulders. This is one of the most difficult things to incorporate into juggling a soccer ball.
Again, it will be easiest to use your feet to set the ball up onto your shoulder.
Then, the even harder part is to hit the ball up with your shoulder and proceed to continue juggling with your feet
9) The Maradona 7
If you’ve ever followed international soccer, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the legendary Argentinian player, Diego Maradona.
This guy was one of the best in the world at juggling a soccer ball, and he inadvertently popularized a routine that has become known as ‘the Maradona 7’.
This routine consists of 7 different touches of the ball with different parts of the body.
The order of how the Maradona 7 should be performed is debated by some, but we see it in this order:
- One touch with each foot
- One touch with each knee
- One touch with each shoulder
- One touch with the head
Some prefer to follow this order:
- One touch with the left foot
- One touch with the left knee
- One touch with the left shoulder
- One touch with the head
- One touch with the right shoulder
- One touch with the right knee
- One touch with the right foot
Either of these routines is pretty much the ultimate display of soccer juggling prowess. Most professional soccer players will struggle to pull it off, so don’t be disheartened if you can’t get it right.
If you need some inspiration to get you started, check out this video of Maradona, himself, showing off his juggling skills.
10) Getting Tricky
If you make it to this stage, you should have complete mastery and control over a soccer ball when juggling.
You’ll be able to keep the ball in the air using all parts of your body at will and the only reason you’ll drop it is if you get too tired!
Now, the only thing left to learn is some juggling tricks.
There are dozens of different juggling tricks you can pull off with a soccer ball, all with different levels of difficulty.
Check out some videos and tutorials online to start learning some funky freestyle juggling tricks!
Soccer Juggling Games
Juggling a soccer ball is usually something you do on your own, but you can actually make it into a game with others.
Here are some examples of our favorite soccer juggling games to play on your own or with a friend:
This is a game that you need two or more people to play properly.
The aim is to pass the ball from one player to another, using only two touches or even as few as one touch.
Two-touch is the more common format for this game because it allows players one touch to control the ball when they receive it and one touch to pass it to another player.
Often, the player in the game who miscontrols the ball, misplaced their pass, or takes too many touches is either eliminated from the game, or receives some kind of forfeit.
It’s a great way to practice your juggling skills and makes practicing the skill a lot more enjoyable than repeating it over and over again on your own.
Combining two sports has been done plenty of times before. This game combines soccer with a miniature version of tennis.
You’ll need an adequate space to play, a net, at least two players, and some way of marking out a playing zone.
You’ll start the game with one player ‘serving’ (kicking or throwing) the ball from one side of the net to the other.
The opposite player must then use their feet, knees, shoulders, chest, or head to control the ball with as many touches as they need and hit the ball back over to the other side of the net.
The main rule to consider is that the ball may only bounce once inside the playing area, on one side of the net, before it is returned to the other side.
Naturally, this game can be played with multiple players on each side of the net and with different sizes or playing areas and nets.
You can easily tailor the rules of the game to make it easier or more challenging, but regardless of what you do, it will be a really fun way to practice your juggling skills.
Hopefully, you’ve found this guide to juggling a soccer ball super useful.
It’s one of the most classic show-off skills in the sport of soccer that won’t necessarily help you in a match, but will improve your technique when it comes to controlling the ball in other ways.
As long as you follow the steps we’ve outlined in this guide, you’ll be juggling like a pro in no time!