Nigel Reo-Coker: Ball work


Aiming for the sweet spot
“This is one exercise you can do on your own. Take a few balls over to a goal and practise striking the ball cleanly before aiming for the corners. Make sure you hit the ‘sweet spot’ on the laces – my advice is to concentrate on accuracy rather than power at first.”

In & out of cones

The old ones are the best ones
“Simply dribbling in and out of cones can be an invaluable exercise. Place 10 cones just a metre or so apart and dribble in between each cone, keeping the ball as close as possible to you. For added fitness, when you get to the end sprint back to the start.”


Here’s one, but use many
“A favourite is the Cruyff turn. Plant the non-striking foot firmly beyond the ball, shape to kick it forward, instead dragging it back  between your legs with the inside of the foot. Vary your turns, though, because a good defender will soon catch on if you only have one trick in your locker.”

Chest control

Because it’s not just ‘foot’ ball
“Become familiar with using different parts of your body to control the ball. Like the thigh, the chest is a vital part of the body, so work hard on becoming familiar with using it. Get a mate to toss a ball at you chest high and simply get it under control by bringing it down to your feet or lifting it up on to your head before volleying or heading it back to him.”

Long pass

Loft the ball in front or to feet
“This is simple. Get a mate to join you and stand about 30 or 40 yards apart. Knock the ball between each other, making sure you get good loft on the pass by getting your foot under the ball. Vary the exercise by aiming for the space in front of your mate as well as his or her feet. This helps simulate a match situation.”

Short pass

A good team’s bread and butter
“Ninety percent of passes are short – but effective. At West Ham we were brought up to knock the ball short so practising these is vital to our game. Drop the cones just a metre or so apart and practise playing the ball through the space back and forth to a mate. Speed up the exercise using just one touch. “


Flex those neck muscles
“Again, this is all about being comfortable with using that part of your body. Get a mate to throw the ball at you and simply head it back to him or her. Keep your eyes open and ensure you get those neck muscles flexed to ensure maximum power.”

Controlled volleys

Control and cushion the ball
“A mate can throw a ball and you control it with thigh, chest or head but make sure you volley the ball back using the inside of the foot. This is the most used part of the foot and the more we work on it the easier it will become.”

Also see:
Reo Coker: Speed, strength & stamina
Reo-Coker: Gym’ll fix it for you...
Premier League to the core
Reo Coker: The complete warm-up

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