The first in my new series ironically enough involves first touch. I spoke with Sky Blue FC midfielder Yael Averbuch to see what she suggested for any player — youth to college, club to national team.
First touch is an extremely difficult skill to master, no matter what the level of the player.
“You never just have it,” said Averbuch. “The ball can always come at a different angle, speed, or velocity. It can never be too good.”
You can always improve first touch. Juggling is a great way to improve this skill as all body surfaces are used — head, chest, shoulders, thigh, the instep, inside, and outside of each foot and the heel.
Just working with the ball helps as well. For those of you who don’t necessarily have someone there to kick or throw the ball to you, there’s always the wall. The wall of a school, a racquetball court, or being in a gym is an excellent way to just work alone and still benefit from doing it.
Overall, repetition is key. Yael couldn’t emphasize that enough when I talked to her. “Number one is time with the ball. Just repetition [helps].”
As you climb the soccer ladder going from youth player, to high school, then at the collegiate, professional, and national team levels, your first touch has to be quicker and cleaner. The speed of play increases and with it, the decision making process must be quicker as well.
“You have to take one touch to control and move in the direction you want to move in rather than two, three, or four touches.” she said. “Knowing what you want to do and the technique has to be faster.”