Watching a dynamic and creative player consistently beat defenders with a variety of fakes and feints is one of the most exciting parts of soccer. So how do soccer coaches and clubs develop players that can do this, and why aren’t there more of these types of players?
To be a great dribbler at the highest levels requires exceptional balance, agility, body control and explosiveness. While these qualities can be enhanced over time through a variety of athletic development programs, there is also a greater amount of natural athleticism required at each level. However, it is not a lack of athleticism that prevents most players from being effective individual attackers at their level - it is a lack of understanding of how different dribbling feints interact and can be combined with each other, and technical problems in execution of the technique. These issues can be fixed with detailed coaching and significant repetition. See the training program used at FC Wisconsin Eclipse to teach individual attacking using the "step-over" or "scissors" move and its variations below.
A Great Individual Attacker First Needs "The Basic Fake"
Every great dribbler has one move that they love; the move that they can do smoothly and that feels right for them. Being able to perform this "basic fake" well is the first step in becoming a great dribbler. The video below shows players training the basic step-over or scissors move:
Then, The Great Individual Attacker Must Learn the "Fake of the Fake"
After the basic fake is learned, a great individual attacker must learn how to "fake" the basic fake. This is the most fundamental part of deception and beating a defender - keeping the defender guessing what is coming next. The video below shows players training the "fake step-over" or "fake scissors" move:
Finally, the Great Individual Attacker Can Create Unpredictable Variations of the Move
The good individual attacker becomes a great individual attacker when they understand the details of the fake in such detail that they can incorporate a variety of variations of the move. Some are obvious, like the "double step-over" or "double scissors" move:
Others are more nuanced and add almost a whole new aspect to the move, like the "step-over drag" or "scissors and drag" move:
The above videos show the same players, in the same session, learning one specific individual attacking feint and its variations. Beyond adding an element of unpredictablility to dribbling, learning these variations also helps players get better at executing the "basic" move. When this repetition is combined with expert coaching about the correct bio-mechanics of the movement and different ways to "sell" the move more effectively, improvement occurs even faster. When these elements are combined with the correct teaching methodology, (which is harder and more complicated than it sounds), every player gets better at beating defenders individually with the ball. The final step is the player going home, individually training the variations (and making more up with their own creativity) many more times, and then having the confidence to try them against live defenders.