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Becoming a professional footballer starts with mastering the basic skills of soccer which include passing, receiving a pass, shooting, dribbling, and goalkeeping.
Most prolific players started training to be the best since their childhood ages. One skill that is cultivated in training is the first touch. But what is it?
The ability to receive the ball with your head, foot, or body without it rolling away from you is what is deemed as the first touch.
More than often, managers prefer to sign players with good first touches, which translates to more possession.
For some, more possession means that you are less likely to be punished by your opponent and instead your team will have more opportunities to score with the ball at your feet.
In this article, we will discuss various aspects of the first touch. So read on to find out more.
What Does First Touch Mean in Soccer?
Most people confuse one-touch soccer with the first touch. It does not necessarily mean that every time you play everything has to be one touch.
Ball control is often linked with the first touch. For instance, a player is considered to have the art of a first touch if he can receive a pass and lock the ball even before taking a second touch or dribbling to release the ball to another player.
Unlike a decade ago, soccer these days is played quite fast and with a high tempo. If a player is under pressure from opposition players and fails to control the pass then he is deemed to have a poor first touch.
A poor first touch will force you into making too many touches making it easy for players to tackle you and steal the ball from your feet.
How Does a First Touch Work in Soccer?
In training, most coaches use the Dribble around the Cone and Pass Relay Race Practice to improve their players ‘first touch’.
This highlights the importance of the first touch in soccer today. Touches are rare to come and the ability to master this skill might be the difference between your team and the opposition of being able to set up a teammate for the next goal.
The first touch in soccer is crucial in determining;
- Where the ball goes next
- The speed at which the ball will move away from you
- How quick as a player can move with the ball
- Where you can pass the ball
- How the opposition player can easily steal the ball from you.
Improving the first touch is the key to becoming a great player and there are several ways in which a first touch works in soccer and how you can improve on it.
1. Standing on your toes
When you are receiving a pass from your teammate at a high speed it’s best if you stand on your toes rather than being flat-footed.
When you are on your toes, it means that you are in motion and you will be able to adjust your body to the speed the ball is approaching you.
It does not matter if the pass is an aerial ball or a ground pass, standing on your feet helps you quickly adjust your body position to control the ball better.
The fundamental skills of soccer dictate that a player will pass, shoot, move the ball, or shield the ball if he has a great first touch.
The first touch will always help you set up your next moves and thinking ahead before receiving that pass from your teammate should be the priority.
If I can, should I pass, shoot or dribble? For instance, you may want to make a forward run, your first touch should be able to give direction to the ball to where you want to run to.
This even makes it more difficult for your opponents to read your game and would be rendered ‘untouchable’.
Knowing what to do with the ball even before it arrives. Should I run through the defenders or pass the ball to my forwards? Sometimes, these decisions are easier to make if you have studied your opposition and practiced them in training.
2. Getting behind the ball
Some players like to get behind the ball to get the precise first touch. Rightly so, you should aim to do that too. You should be able to decide if you want to control the ball with your body or just let it run past you.
Most players get it wrong when they stretch for the ball when taking that first touch. Stretching for the ball gives you little ability to control it. Instead, you can make a run towards the ball.
3. By putting the focus on the ball
Sometimes the ball may make a deflection and land awkwardly towards you such that you cannot control it. To avoid being on the receiving end of the fans it’s better if you keep your eyes on the ball.
Some of you will argue that keeping your eyes on the ball will make it difficult to make the modern “no-look pass”. However, you keep forgetting that pass, will depend on your first touch
For instance, the ball might bounce and since you have been watching its movements, you will be able to control it the first time.
To have a better understanding of how the first touch works, see YouTube.
Who Has the Best Touch in Soccer?
There is no particular order when it comes to ranking as to which player has a first touch that manipulates the ball even though it takes a deflection.
Most of the professional players will be able to have an incredible touch 90% percent of the time they receive the ball. However, some players stand out more than others in this skill.
With the changing style of play of soccer, which requires more pace and power, there is increased pressure on players to have a killer first touch.
The likes of Lionel Messi and Mesut Ozil won’t miss the power rankings of those with great first touches.
To sum up, it’s important for players these days to have a better first touch, which helps them whether to shoot or pass instead of losing the ball.