Football skills are way simpler than what many would make it look. Or at least, that is according to former Welsh striker, Phil Woosnam who said, “The rules of soccer are very simple: if it moves, kick it. If it doesn’t move, kick it until it does”.
Skills in football are basically anything and everything the 22 men do on the field, to score more goals than the opposition. However, a more precise definition would be ‘the abilities developed to perform or execute the tactics to perfection’.
While there are numerous football skills that the greats in the game have mastered over the years. Here are 7 basic skills that you need to learn to start off your career in football.
The most crucial yet basic skill required for the success of any tactic is positioning. The structure of a team needs to be organised both while creating and defending.
Footballers need to be well-drilled about where they’re supposed to be at all times. However, it is important to be dynamic and adjust to the weaknesses of the opponents. It is one thing to be positionally strong during possession. However, positioning off possession is what separates top players from the rest.
An ideal positioning while going forward is required to avoid offsides. Furthermore, when done correctly, it gives a crucial yard or two advantage to capitalise on. Top defenders in the world neutralise their opponents by proper positioning without breaking a sweat.
2. Ball control
The ability to control a moving football is crucial, no matter the position you play in. While on the attack, controlling the ball is essential to keep the ball away from the defenders. On the other hand, poor ball control while defending can be catastrophic with the opposition attackers lurking nearby.
Proper ball control allows you to collect the ball and gain control of it. Mastering the skill, using all parts of the body including feet, legs, chest, and the head is a must. Once a footballer acquires this skill, they should be able to receive passes both on the ground and out of the air. Furthermore, the first touch has to be kept clean, with the ball close to their body.
3. Passing accuracy
Passing refers to manoeuvring the ball at one’s possession to their teammate. The purpose of passing is to keep possession of the ball. While passes can be made in any direction its primary objective is to advance it up the playing field.
Passing accuracy depends on two factors. The first being the skill of the passer to accurately aim and strike the pass in the direction of the intended receiver. While the second factor is the ball control of the receiver.
One of the most distinguishing evolutionary factors in modern football is the importance of passing. Passing accuracy has developed into one of the most basic yet defining aspects of modern tactics.
Dribbling is manoeuvring a ball across the field by a player while avoiding defenders’ attempts to intercept the ball. It is certainly one of the more complex skills to perform and one of the most difficult skills to master.
In order to dribble past an opponent, the dribbler can use a wide variety of manipulative tricks and feints. A skilful dribbler creates space in tight situations, getting past defenders. Following a successful dribble, the footballer can either attempt to score or create.
With that being said, an unsuccessful dribble can lead to the ball being intercepted. This loss of possession can in turn lead to a counter-attack. However, an illegal attempt to intercept the ball can result in the awarding of a set-piece from dangerous areas in the field.
Speed is a highly defining skill of a football across any position. A very technically limited footballer can overachieve if they can outrun their opponents. On the other hand, a technically gifted player might achieve great heights if they are not able to keep up with the rest of the bunch.
As an attacker, pace gives a huge advantage in creating or scoring during a counterattack. On the other hand, a defender’s career who is not able to keep up with forwards will go nowhere. In the case of midfielders, being quick on the feet helps change the direction of the attack and the game as a whole.
Things you do off the ball, matter just as much, if not, more than what you do with the ball in your possession. Once a team loses possession of the ball, the pressure applied by reducing the space and time available to the opponent to play the ball is called pressing. The objective of pressing is to force the opponent to make an error and thereby lose the ball.
While pressing, players go all in on pressurising the opponent and hence flexibility in positioning is required. As a result of pressing high up in the field without dropping back, you increase the chances of retaining possession. However, the team puts themselves at risk of a counterattack.
7. Interception/ tackling
It is one thing to force your opponent who possesses the ball to make an error by creating pressure. However, in order to win the ball effectively, one would have to resort to intercepting or tackling the ball.
Tackling the ball is to physically obstruct the dribbler, to regain possession of the ball. The motive of the tackler is to regain the ball by producing minimal or zero contact with the dribbler. However, a physical challenge involving contact of players can be done. As long as the contact falls within the legality of the game.
Tackling was long looked at as the last resort to regain possession, considering the risk involved. However, with the pace in the modern game tackling has become a mainstay in the sport. And definitely, a football skill that you need to add to your arsenal.
Intercepting the ball is an alternative to tackling so we can regain possession to set up an attack. In order to successfully intercept a ball, a player needs to position oneself correctly, anticipating the direction of the pass. Followed by taking the correct touch to control the ball. Before, proceeding to dictate the tempo of the play or initiate a counterattack.