Receiving The Ball In Soccer – The Definitive Guide!

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Receiving the ball in soccer/football is a skill that every player should master.

Although it is very simple, there are a few things you should keep in mind when receiving the ball or a pass during a soccer/football game.

Don’t worry because, by the end of this article, you will be in a prime position to receive the ball in any situation during a soccer game.

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What Is Receiving The Ball In Soccer/Football?

Receiving the ball in soccer is the skill of successfully controlling a pass from a teammate. It involves using a specific body part to cushion the ball’s impact and gain immediate control, allowing for quick decision-making and effective continuation of play.

Basically, receiving the ball means controlling that ball. In this case, it’s very important to master your first touch.

When you join a soccer academy, the first things you learn are ball control, passing the ball, and receiving the ball. These are the fundamentals.

==>> By the way, if you are still confused as to why we use both “soccer” and “football”, check out this article to learn why football is called soccer and vice versa.

How To Receive The Ball In Soccer?

Receiving a soccer ball seems so simple but it’s often never thought off to players. Even some advanced players don’t understand the basics of receiving a ball.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effectively receive the ball for beginners

  1. Be Prepared: Stay alert and anticipate the ball’s arrival. Position yourself in a way that provides a clear passing lane for your teammate or allows you to receive the ball comfortably.
  2. Read the Situation: Assess the game situation and understand the positioning of opponents and teammates. This knowledge will help you make quicker decisions upon receiving the ball.
  3. Create Space: Move into open spaces to provide your teammate with an option to pass. By creating space, you make it easier for yourself to receive the ball without unnecessary pressure from opponents.
  4. Communication: Use verbal or non-verbal cues to communicate with your teammates, indicating your availability for a pass. Clear communication enhances the chances of receiving the ball successfully.
  5. Body Positioning: Position your body correctly to receive the ball. Face the direction of the incoming pass and open up your body to have better control upon reception.
  6. First Touch Control: Mastering your first touch is crucial. As the ball arrives, use a controlled touch with a specific body part, such as your foot, thigh, or chest, to bring the ball under control. The touch should be soft and directed in a way that maintains possession or sets you up for the next action.
  7. Awareness: Maintain awareness of your surroundings, including the positions of opponents and teammates. This awareness allows you to make quick decisions after receiving the ball, such as passing, dribbling, or shooting.
  8. Protect the Ball: Shield the ball from opponents immediately after receiving it. Use your body as a barrier, keeping the ball within your control and preventing opponents from easily dispossessing you.
  9. Quick Transition: After receiving the ball, be prepared to transition smoothly into the next action. This could involve passing, dribbling, or making a decisive move based on the game situation.
  10. Practice and Repetition: Regularly practice receiving drills to improve your touch, coordination, and decision-making. Repetition will help you develop muscle memory and enhance your ability to receive the ball effectively in different scenarios.

When receiving the ball, there’s an indiscernible up before the ball arrives at us. See Pic below.

Receiving the ball in soccer - A standing player receiving the ball from the inside of the foot
  1. Basically, as the ball comes in, you need to give a little up(your foot) and come back a little bit down on the ball to receive it. So, we up and low the foot before it comes back down to receive the ball.
  2. We don’t just let the foot hang there and allow the ball to hit it. It is a small kick or mini touch.
  3. Whether we try to move the ball away or kill it in front of us, the slight little up is so important to receiving the ball.
  4. The foot must come up off the ground while we touch the ball and gently go forward.
  5. Never keep your foot on the ground and low when receiving the ball. Otherwise, the ball will pop up.

What To Do Before Receiving A Pass In Football?

Before receiving a ball, what should be going through your head so that you know what to do next and therefore, make the best decision?

Well, that’s pretty simple:

A- Where is the opposition player?

The first thing you want to know intuitively is where the defender is. Knowing where the opponent’s defender is will allow you to know what to do next. For example, if there’s a defender right behind you, you might want to pass the ball back instead of turning.

So, make sure to always scan the field and look over your shoulders before you receive the pass.

B-Where is space?

Knowing where your available space is will help you make better decisions. For instance, if there are three defenders behind you and no space at all, you might want to give the ball back to where it came from instead of dribbling.

C-Anticipate where space is going to be

This is probably the most important thing to remember.

When receiving the ball, you only have a fraction of a second to know where space is going to be. So, anticipating will help you make better decisions.

D-Where are your teammates?

Knowing where your teammates are before receiving the ball is very important. This skill is most suitable for midfielders.

During a game, you might find yourself in situations where you’ll have to play the ball in a first touch to a teammate without wasting time.

Iniesta was the perfect example of this. He always knew where his teammates were even before receiving the ball.

Simply be aware of what’s going on on the field so that before you receive that pass, you already know what you’re going to do next.

How To Receive A Soccer Ball In The Air?

Sometimes the ball is not going to come on the ground. So, we need to use whatever surface we can to trap the ball. This can be the sole or the side of the foot, with one or two touches: If the ball lands on your chest, you have to bring it down and continue to play.

Receiving a soccer ball in the air requires specific techniques and focus. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effectively receive a ball in the air:

  1. Body Positioning: Position yourself in a way that allows you to have a clear view of the ball and judge its flight path accurately. Face the direction the ball is coming from and align your body to receive it.
  2. Anticipate and Decide: Anticipate where the ball is going to land and quickly decide which body part you will use to receive it—whether it’s your foot, thigh, or chest. This decision should be based on the height and speed of the incoming ball.
  3. Continuous Movement: Make small adjustments to your position by taking small steps to get in line with the ball. This movement helps you get into a better position to receive the ball effectively.
  4. Timing and Coordination: Time your jump or movement to coincide with the arrival of the ball. This coordination is crucial to meet the ball at the right moment and gain control over it.
  5. Body Control: As the ball approaches, focus on bringing it under control by trapping it against the ground using the chosen body part. Allow the ground to assist you in cushioning the ball’s impact and maintaining possession.
  6. Visual Focus: Keep your eyes locked on the ball throughout the process. By staying visually focused, you can adjust your body and position according to the ball’s movement and make necessary adjustments in real time.
  7. Balance and Stability: Maintain your balance and stability throughout the reception. This helps you stay on your feet and avoid being easily dispossessed by opponents.
  8. Follow Through: After successfully receiving the ball, follow through with an additional touch if needed. This touch can help you redirect the ball, evade opponents, or set yourself up for the next move.
  9. Practice and Familiarity: Regular practice is crucial to develop confidence and familiarity with receiving the ball in the air. Engage in drills and exercises that simulate aerial situations, allowing you to refine your technique and improve your ability to judge and control airborne balls.

Follow these tips to improve your ability to receive the ball out of the air.

Types Of Receiving In Football/Soccer

There are several types of receiving the ball in football/soccer. In fact, you can receive the ball with any part of your body except your hands.

Here they are:

  • Receiving with the inside and outside of the foot. This is the most common one.
  • Receiving using your chest. This usually happens when the ball comes out of the air.
  • Your tighs
  • Your back. This doesn’t happen often.

How Do You Get To The First Ball In Soccer?

First of all, what is a first ball? Well, this is having the ability to be the first player to touch, header or control the ball before the opposing players.

This usually happens when the ball comes out of the air.

To be the first on the ball, here’s what you need:

  • You have to work on your movement off the ball.
  • Stop calling for the ball in bad positions
  • Always be in front of the opponent’s defender to get to the first ball.
  • Create passing lanes for your teammates. Your teammate shouldn’t pass to you if there’s no passing lane.
  • Be confident.  Don’t be scared to receive the ball and ask for it. A lot of times, players are scared to receive the ball because they don’t know what to do with it. Don’t be that person.

What Is The Second Ball In Soccer?

As the name implies, a second ball is a ball you receive after the first one during a soccer game. If a ball is coming out of the air and a teammate deflects it towards you, you’re going to win that second ball.

For a second ball to occur, you have to press your opponent very high in order to force them to play long balls. From a long ball comes the first ball. And from the first ball comes the second ball.

There are two types of the second ball such as an offensive second ball and a defensive second ball.

How Do You Win A Second Ball In Soccer?

Football/soccer is not always about the second ball but it’s good to win them from time to time.

Here are the tips to win a second ball in soccer:

  1. Apply High Pressure: Press or counter-press your opponents aggressively to force them into playing long balls. By applying pressure near their area, you increase the chances of winning the second ball.
  2. Anticipate Long Balls: Read the game and anticipate when long balls are likely to be played. Position yourself strategically to be in a favourable spot to win the second ball when it is deflected or comes down from the air.
  3. React Quickly: As the long ball is played or deflected, react swiftly to reach the second ball before your opponents. Display agility and quick reflexes to gain an advantage in securing the ball.
  4. Timing and Coordination: Coordinate with your teammates to ensure synchronized movements in challenging for the second ball. Clear communication and understanding among teammates can help create space and facilitate better positioning to win the ball.
  5. Focus on Technique: Employ proper technique when contesting for the second ball. This includes using appropriate body positioning, employing shielding tactics to protect the ball, and utilizing skills like chest control, heading, or ground control to secure possession.
  6. Maintain Balance and Stability: Stay balanced and maintain stability when challenging for the second ball. This will enable you to withstand physical challenges from opponents and maintain control after winning the ball.
  7. Read the Trajectory: Continuously track the trajectory of the ball to accurately judge its flight path and adjust your position accordingly. This will improve your chances of being in the right place to win the second ball.
  8. Play with Determination: Demonstrate determination and a competitive mindset to outmuscle opponents and win the second ball. Show commitment, tenacity, and a strong desire to succeed in the contest.
  9. Offensive and Defensive Awareness: Understand the context of the game and the specific situation to determine whether winning the offensive or defensive second ball is more advantageous. Make intelligent decisions based on the game’s flow and your team’s strategic objectives.
  10. Practice and Experience: Enhance your ability to win second balls through practice and experience. Participate in training drills that simulate second-ball scenarios and engage in competitive matches to develop your instincts and decision-making in these situations.

By implementing these strategies, you can increase your chances of winning second balls, maintaining possession, and gaining an advantage in the game.

As mentioned earlier, there are two types of the second ball.

Winning the offensive second ball in the opponent’s half is very crucial to maintain the team’s shape and accumulating possession in a good situation to score a goal.

Winning the defensive second ball is very important in order to prevent the opposing team from having interesting situations in your own half.

Importance of Communication

Communication plays a vital role in receiving the ball in soccer. By effectively communicating with your teammates, you can indicate your readiness to receive the ball and coordinate your movements on the field. Simple verbal cues or calling for the ball can help establish a connection and improve the chances of successful ball reception.

Body Positioning

Proper body positioning is crucial when receiving the ball. By angling your body in the right direction and opening up your hips, you create a better-receiving angle and increase your field of vision. This allows you to anticipate the pass and position yourself to receive it more effectively. Additionally, creating passing lanes by adjusting your body position can make it easier for your teammates to find you with accurate passes.

First Touch Techniques

Mastering different first touch techniques is essential for controlling the ball upon reception. Whether it’s cushioning the ball with a soft touch, using the inside or outside of your foot to redirect it, or executing a quick flick or trap, the first touch sets the stage for your subsequent actions. Practising and refining these techniques will enhance your ability to maintain possession and make the next move swiftly.

Turning and Dribbling

Receiving the ball is not only about controlling it but also about transitioning smoothly into the next phase of play. Learning effective turning and dribbling techniques will enable you to evade defenders and create space for yourself or your teammates. Techniques like the drag-back, the Cruyff turn, or quick changes of direction can give you the advantage needed to maintain possession or launch an attack.

Shielding and Protecting the Ball

Shielding the ball from opponents is an important skill in soccer. After receiving the ball, using your body as a barrier between the ball and the defender can help you maintain possession and buy time to assess your options. Proper positioning, keeping the ball on the far side away from opponents, and using your arms to create space are effective methods of shielding and protecting the ball.

Receiving Under Pressure

In soccer, you often find yourself under pressure from opponents when receiving the ball. Developing techniques to receive the ball successfully in these high-pressure situations is crucial. This includes being aware of the surrounding defenders, positioning yourself to receive the ball away from pressure, and having the composure to make quick decisions under duress. Practice and experience will improve your ability to handle these challenging moments effectively.

Receiving in Different Areas of the Field

Receiving the ball successfully varies depending on the area of the field you find yourself in. In the defensive zone, focus on secure ball control and making accurate passes to start the build-up play. In midfield, be prepared to receive the ball in tight spaces and quickly distribute it to maintain possession or create attacking opportunities. In the attacking third, your receiving skills should aim to create goal-scoring chances or link up with teammates in and around the box.

Awareness of Surroundings

Being aware of your surroundings is essential for receiving the ball effectively. Regularly scanning the field, checking for open spaces, and assessing the positions of teammates and opponents allows you to make informed decisions. This awareness enables you to anticipate where the ball will come from and plan your next moves, such as a quick pass, a turn, or a dribble, even before receiving the ball.

Improving Reaction Time

Improving your reaction time is crucial for successful ball reception. Quick decision-making and anticipation help you react faster to incoming passes. You can enhance your reaction time through drills and exercises that involve rapid ball movements, simulated game scenarios, or reaction-based challenges. Developing this skill will give you an edge in receiving the ball under pressure and making split-second decisions.

Psychological Aspects

Receiving the ball also involves psychological aspects. Building confidence in your abilities is important to receive the ball with composure and make effective decisions afterwards. Trusting your skills, maintaining a positive mindset, and embracing the challenge will help you overcome nervousness and perform at your best when receiving the ball.

Receiving in Different Game Situations

Soccer presents various game situations that require different receiving techniques. Receiving long passes demands focus and coordination to control the ball effectively. When receiving through balls, timing your run and coordinating with the passer become crucial. Receiving crosses may require heading or volleying techniques. Additionally, adapting to different weather conditions, such as receiving a wet or bouncing ball, adds further complexity to receiving the ball.

Receiving with Different Body Parts

Receiving the ball can involve different body parts apart from the feet. Using the head, shoulders, or knees to control the ball allows for versatility in receiving techniques. For example, receiving with the chest is useful when the ball comes from the air, while using the thighs can help cushion and redirect the ball effectively.

Practising Receiving Skills

Improving your receiving skills requires regular practice. Individual drills such as juggling, wall passes, or cone exercises can enhance your ball control and first touch. Partner passing exercises enable you to practice receiving under varying speeds and angles. Small-sided games provide realistic game situations where you can apply your receiving skills while under pressure from opponents.

Video Analysis and Study

Studying professional players and analyzing game footage can provide valuable insights into receiving techniques and decision-making. Pay attention to how professionals position themselves, receive the ball, and quickly transition into the next move. Study their body positioning, their awareness of teammates and opponents, and their ability to adapt to different game situations. Incorporating these observations into your own game can enhance your receiving skills.

Receiving in Set Pieces

Set pieces, such as corner kicks, free kicks, and throw-ins, offer unique opportunities for receiving the ball. Understanding the specific dynamics of each set piece and positioning yourself strategically can give you an advantage in receiving the ball successfully. Timing your movements, using appropriate techniques for heading or controlling the ball, and coordinating with teammates can lead to goal-scoring opportunities or defensive stability.

Final Thoughts

The more aware of what’s happening on the pitch, the better your decisions making will be and the more you’ll instinctively know what to do when you get a pass.

Lack of awareness leads to nervousness, which you don’t want to have to happen.

What are your thoughts about receiving the ball in soccer? Do you have any other tips or experiences to share? Leave them in the comment section below.

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