What Is A First Touch In Soccer? (Easily Explained)

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Last Updated: Jun 11, 2023

In the world of soccer, mastering the first touch is a fundamental skill that can greatly impact a player’s performance on the field. But what exactly is a first touch? How can it be executed effectively, and how can one improve their touch in soccer?

This post aims to provide answers to these questions and shed light on the significance of a first touch in a beautiful game.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

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What is the First Touch in Soccer?

A first touch in soccer refers to the act of receiving and controlling the ball with a single touch. It is a crucial skill that enables players to maintain possession, make quick decisions, and initiate offensive plays. Mastering the first touch enhances passing accuracy, dribbling ability, and shooting precision.

So, whether it’s controlling the ball with the chest, head, thigh, or foot, the first touch is essential in maintaining possession and setting up subsequent moves

Your first touch is one of the most important skills in soccer/football. So, mastering it is almost a need for any soccer player in the world.

The first touch is ball control. Simple as that.

Have you ever heard someone saying “What a great first touch!”?…

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you are receiving the ball from a teammate during a soccer game. You have two options:

You can either control it, this can be with your chest, head, thigh, foot, etc. Any part of your body except your hands. This is the first touch.

Or you can simply give it back to another teammate as soon as you receive the ball.

A perfect example here would be when you’re receiving a pass from a teammate and instead of controlling it as in the previous example, you simply hit it or pass it back to another teammate with just one single touch. This will also be considered as a first touch.

Now let’s see how you can improve your first touch.

Improving your First Touch in Soccer

Here are the most important first touch techniques to know and master:

1. Inside of the foot

When controlling the ball, the simplest technique to use is the inside of the foot. See pic below.

What is a First Touch in soccer - controlling the ball using the inside of the foot

When receiving the ball, if you want to go to your left, for instance, you need to open your foot out and turn your foot and body in the direction you want to head.

If you want to go to the other side, use the same technique.

Make sure you practice it with both feet because you never know what situation you might find yourself in during a game.

What if the ball is coming to you in the air?

Well, the technique is very similar. Use the inside of your foot and as you control the ball, pull your foot a little backwards. This will take a little bit of power and hopefully, stop the ball.

What is First Touch in soccer - Image showing a soccer player controlling the ball in the air

Don’t forget to take it in the direction you want to go. And again, you need to practice this with both feet.

You are not limited to only using the inside of your foot.

There are several other elements that you can use to your advantage when controlling the ball.

2. Outside of the foot

Another element we can use is the external part of the foot.

What is a First Touch in soccer - A soccer player showing his outside part of the foot

When we use that technique, we don’t want to use the heel too much. This will give us the greatest amount of control.

Also, when we use that external part of the step, we want to angle the foot in the direction we want to take the ball.

What is a First Touch in soccer - A soccer player controlling the ball in one touch and heading to one direction

Keep in mind that it’s not always about just using your feet in a game.

The ball is going to come in different directions and different highs.

Also, there are different parts of the body you can use to control the ball. But the main thing is, keep your eyes on the ball and take the ball in the direction you want to travel.

To improve any technique you have to practice.

Tips for a Better First Touch for Beginners

Mastering the first touch means possession and ultimately, control of the game.

Here are some simple techniques you can use when receiving the ball from a simple pass or a cross, and get the ball ready for your next move.

  • No matter what type of ball is coming towards you, the best technique is to focus on the ball and get it in front of you as quickly as possible. This will give you the best chance to make your first touch effective.
  • Don’t wait for the ball to arrive before you make that decision.
  • When the ball is coming to you, you need to set yourself up quickly for your next move.
  • Whatever technique you use, stay focused on the ball and keep your eyes on it.
  • Relax with your body when receiving the ball.
  • Be on your toes. This makes you more agile and you can easily adjust when there’s a deflection.
  • Low centre of gravity. Slightly bend on your knees while being on your toes. This will make you more balanced.

Once you have mastered the basics of first touch in soccer, you can start exploring advanced techniques to take your skills to the next level. These advanced first touch techniques require more precision and control, but they can greatly enhance your ability to handle the ball effectively.

Advanced First Touch Techniques

One advanced technique is the feint or fake touch. It involves deceiving your opponents by pretending to touch the ball in one direction but quickly changing course. This can create space and confusion, allowing you to bypass defenders and create scoring opportunities.

Another technique is the flick or chip touch. Instead of controlling the ball with your foot, you use a quick flick or chip to lift the ball over an opponent’s leg or foot. This move can be useful when facing tight marking or pressure from the opposition.

The drag-back touch is another useful advanced technique. It involves using the sole of your foot to pull the ball back while quickly changing direction. This move can help you evade defenders and create space for yourself or your teammates.

Furthermore, the cushioned touch is an advanced technique used to receive fast or powerful passes. Instead of stopping the ball abruptly, you slightly absorb its momentum by cushioning the impact with a soft touch. This allows you to maintain control and redirect the ball smoothly.

These advanced first touch techniques require practice and repetition to master. Work on them in training sessions and gradually incorporate them into your game.

Remember, simplicity is key. Start with one or two techniques and gradually add more to your repertoire as you become comfortable with them.

Importance of First Touch

The first touch in soccer is incredibly important. It can make all the difference in a player’s performance on the field. But why is it so crucial? Well, let me explain.

Imagine you’re playing a soccer game, and your teammate passes the ball to you. If you have a good first touch, you can control the ball smoothly and quickly. This means you keep possession of the ball and have more time to make decisions. You can pass the ball accurately, dribble past opponents, or take a shot on goal.

On the other hand, if your first touch is poor, the ball might bounce away from you, get intercepted by the opposition, or even go out of play. This can lead to turnovers, and missed opportunities, and put your team at a disadvantage.

Having a strong first touch gives you an edge. It helps you maintain control and dictate the flow of the game. It allows you to stay calm under pressure and react swiftly to different situations. Plus, it gives you the confidence to take on opponents and create scoring chances for your team.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, working on your first touch is essential. It’s a fundamental skill that lays the foundation for your overall game. So, practice it diligently and strive to improve.

How to Practice Your First Touch?

The best way to practice your first touch is to grab a football and find a wall or any kind of surface that you can rebound the ball off.

Practice by hitting the ball at different speeds and learn how it reacts off of your feet.

Start with the inside of your foot, then go on to other areas of the foot after you gained confidence with it.

Practice both feet equally as it’s so important.

Another really good technique to improve your first touch or your ball control is Juggling.

Simple repetition using both feet is real to help improve your overall touch.

Common mistakes to avoid

When it comes to the first touch in soccer, there are some common mistakes that players should be aware of and avoid.

Let’s discuss these mistakes in simple terms.

One mistake is mishitting the ball. Sometimes, instead of controlling it smoothly, players may misjudge the speed or angle of the ball and end up with an awkward touch.

Another mistake is poor positioning. If you’re not in the right position when receiving the ball, it becomes harder to control it effectively. Anticipation is key to avoiding this mistake.

Additionally, a lack of focus on the ball can lead to errors. It’s important to keep your eyes on the ball at all times to ensure a successful first touch.

Lastly, being tense or rigid in your body can hinder your control. Relaxing your body when receiving the ball allows for better coordination and balance.

By being aware of these common mistakes and consciously working to avoid them, you can improve your first touch and become a more reliable player on the field.

First Touch in Different Game Situations

The way you execute your first touch in soccer can vary depending on the different situations you encounter during a game.

When you receive a pass under pressure from a teammate, your first touch should be quick and controlled, allowing you to evade the pressure and keep possession.

On the other hand, when the ball is played in the air, your first touch should focus on bringing the ball under control while maintaining balance. You can use techniques like cushioning the ball with your chest or controlling it with a well-timed header.

Another scenario is when you receive a fast-paced pass. In such cases, it’s important to read the speed and direction of the ball and adjust your first touch accordingly.

Adjusting First Touch for Different Surfaces

In soccer, the surface you’re playing on can have a significant impact on how you adjust your first touch.

Different surfaces, such as grass, indoor soccer turf, or Futsal courts, can affect how the ball bounces and moves.

When playing on grass, you’ll typically have a bit more control as the surface allows the ball to roll smoothly.

On indoor soccer turf, however, the ball may bounce higher and faster, requiring you to adjust your first touch accordingly.

Futsal surfaces tend to be faster, so your first touch needs to be quick and precise.

It’s important to pay attention to these differences and practice on various surfaces to develop the necessary adaptability.

First Touch in Different Positions

The way you approach your first touch in soccer can vary depending on the position you play on the field.

For defenders, a good first touch is crucial to quickly distribute the ball to their teammates and initiate attacks. They need to focus on controlling the ball efficiently while under pressure from opponents.

Midfielders, on the other hand, need to have a versatile first touch that allows them to receive the ball from different angles and quickly transition between defense and offense. That’s why it’s considered the hardest position in soccer.

Forwards, who are often in tight spaces, need to have a sharp and controlled first touch to create scoring opportunities. They must be able to turn quickly with the ball and make decisive moves towards the goal.

By understanding the specific demands of your position and adapting your first touch accordingly, you can maximize your effectiveness on the field and contribute to the overall success of your team.

Final Word

When you learn a new skill or technique, the key is to practice as much as you can. There’s no excuse for cutting corners, you have to put in the work to improve your game.

Did you learn something new from this article? Which first touch technique are you going to try first? Do you have a different way to control the ball?

Let us know in the comment section below.

4 thoughts on “What Is A First Touch In Soccer? (Easily Explained)”

  1. Repetition and constant learning is the key to success. The advantage is that we can really “stop” the ball in any way that comes to mind, except the hand of course. As someone who played football in his younger days, I think this is the first and most important lesson and that is ball control. The very fact that we can master a move in football gives us a starting advantage over the opponent. And in the end, regardless of the position in the team, that is the only thing that matters. Great article, I wish someone at the time had pointed out to me the real benefits of mastering ball control early. You sound like someone who really understands football. Do you play football professionally?

    • Hey Mike. Thanks for your comment.

      I totally agree with all that you said about ball control.

      Yeah, I used to play professional football/soccer in the second division but had to stop due to an injury. You can read more about me here.


  2. Thanks for sharing this post. It has been an interesting read and I have found it very informative even though i haven’t played soccer since I was a child. Actually, I watched my brother game yesterday and I heard people talking about the first touch. I had no idea what it was. Hence I decided to do some research.

    Over here in Scotland, we always called it Football. I loved it when I was at Primary school but as I hit my teenage years I lost interest really as I liked the music better though

    • Hi, Kwidzin. Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you found the article helpful.

      By the way, you’re perfectly right. Almost everywhere in Europe or UK call it Football instead of Soccer. I know many tend to be confused. Hence I wrote an article about it that perfectly shows the difference between both.

      You can read it in my article titled “Is Soccer different from Football


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