Axel Witsel: Keep hold of the ball

“I play in central midfield and often give the ball away under pressure. How can I learn to stay calm in possession?”

Louie Booth, via Facebook

Axel Witsel

“You have to protect the ball. When I receive a pass with a man behind me, I control it with my sole and put my body weight on him, to push him back and keep possession. I use his body and mine to shield the ball.


Then I try to turn away from him, using my arms to spin either left or right. When I’m controlling the ball with my right foot, I use my left leg to block the opponent so that he can’t get to it. You can also use your arms to hold him off.


Keeping cool under pressure isn’t just about being good technically. You also have to be a well-rounded athlete and an intelligent footballer.The gym is important, too. Work on building power in your legs and abdominals. They’re crucial. I don’t go to the gym seven days a week, but I do try to do some work on my abdominals every day.


For a central midfielder, it’s very important to have a healthy heart. You have to run a lot in this position of the pitch, helping the team to attack and defend.

Physically you have to be extremely fit and strong; there’s plenty of contact involved.  Finally, listen to what the team’s experienced players have to say. They can give you good advice.” 


For more football tips see:
Michael Carrick: Protecting the back four
Patrick Vieira: How to be a midfield destroyer
Ramires: Stand up to the big boys
Yaya Toure: Dominate the middle of the park
Scott Parker: Maximise your potential

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