Keep the oppo guessing
“Be direct and run at opponents at speed. Sometimes you can slow it down and then suddenly speed it up if you have good acceleration. It depends on the opponent. If you can’t beat them for speed you need to start doing a few tricks to get past them. The key is to mix up your game and not rely on one particular style of dribbling.”
Sell your marker a dummy
“My dad made me watch old Betamax video tapes that focused on skill and technique. It involved a Dutch coach called Wiel Coerver. He was in charge of Feyenoord in the 1970s and he created the Coerver coaching technique. In terms of dribbling, it focused on misdirection – so the defender moved one way and you could go the other. It’s things like the Matthews move, the Rivelino move and the Maradona move – I used to practise it all in the front garden.”
Never stop practicing
“If you want to be a great dribbler, or great at any aspect of the game, you have to work hard. It doesn’t just happen overnight; you have to work at it and train hard. Even when I was six years old playing at Cadbury Athletic, the coach worked with me on my skills. I still do that to this day. I want to develop every part of my game. It’s important to realise you can always get better. You should never feel you are the finished article, because that’s a backward step.”
Learn from the greats
“It’s vital to watch great players and see how they get past opponents. When I was younger I watched Michael Owen’s Soccer Skills and then studied Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. Ronaldo – R9 – used to do skills and tricks that got me out of my seat all the time. I used to watch Ronaldinho at Barcelona and think, ‘Oh my god, what am I seeing here?!’ Then you’ve got Zidane, who was so elegant that everything was effortless for him. He would glide past people at will.”
“Be direct. Don’t doubt yourself. Be aggressive with your skills and don’t worry about losing the ball. Look to make it happen and be committed to the dribble. You also need to suss out your opponent. If he’s quicker than you, then you need to think of a skill that will get you past him. It depends where you are on the field, too. Different skills work better in certain situations.”
Tailor your game
“Adapt your game to each defender you face. It’s a bit like boxing, where you suss out your opponent in the ring: you can watch videos, but in a fight between two individuals it can be different. It’s the same on a football pitch. Learn to understand how your opponent reacts to different scenarios in the heat of the action. As the game wears on, you get a better picture of how that player reacts. Does he dive into the tackle or drop off and let you turn? Every defender is different."
For more football tips see:
Radamel Falcao: How to be a penalty-box predator
Thierry Henry: Finishing at speed
Wayne Rooney's shooting drill
Olivier Giroud: How to create and conquer
Rooney: Big match preparation
Ibrahimovic: How to play as a targetman
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