“What is the value of juggling?”
It’s understandable why parents and players ask this question. You don’t see players juggling the ball down the field. You don’t see players juggle then shoot or juggle then pass. It is, however, the base of your skill set and is the activity that aligns your mind, body and ball.
The biggest advantage
Juggling has many advantages but most importantly it helps you develop a relationship with the ball. What most soccer players don’t understand is that learning to control the ball when it is on the ground is easy. Learning to control the ball when it is in the air is the hard part. Good jugglers can control the ball with ease when the ball comes to them in the air, thus making their first touch effective no matter how the ball comes to them.
Three other advantages
- Juggling develops your foot and eye coordination. When your feet and eyes work in sync and in rhythm, the timing of your entire skill set improves.
- Juggling increases skill and confidence for aerial touches. A good juggler has the instinct to bring the ball down comfortably when the ball comes into your playing area from an aerial position.
- Juggling builds your first touch and your first touch is everything when playing at the highest level.
How to start
Juggling takes time to master and the hardest goal is 10 consecutive juggles using feet. Once a player achieves this mark, they will continue to set new records with regularity. One of the best ways to begin is to allow the ball to take a bounce in between touches allowing your mind to develop muscle memory. As a player improves, they can increase the amount of consecutive touches while still allowing for occasional bounces. During NST camps, trainers include juggling with a tennis ball, size 1 ball and a regulation game ball.
You may have seen kids playing soccer on a tennis court or on a field with an undersized tennis net. The growing game of soccer tennis allows for competition and relationship while essentially increasing juggling skills. Portable nets can be purchased for a reasonable price and will motive players to continue to improve while also experiencing the joy of competition.
Spend time building a relationship with the soccer ball by juggling and reap the rewards of skill, confidence and first touch on match day.