A successful first touch improves your ability to run with the ball or pass it to your teammates, increasing your scoring chances. However, practicing how to control the first touch in soccer requires resilience and agility to manage your feets' activeness.
You can receive the ball from different positions in various ways. It would help if you were prepared to handle the force and put the ball under control before kicking it to the next player. Understanding the necessary action between ball reception, first touch, and ball passing determines your consistency and ability to handle the second touch.
Here are tips on improving your first touch after receiving a pass:
Control the Ball
An accurate first touch increases your team's chances of progress because it is a crucial component of your team's ball passing, reception, and handling coordination. In addition, it earns you enough time to calculate your moves and analyze the most suitable outcome if you apply various actions.
You can control the ball through a "keepy uppy," commonly known as juggling. While this may come as a show-off skill, it is essential to master ball control. You are controlling your energy by cushioning the ball's landing by juggling. After developing enough comfort on your dominant foot, you can let the ball rest for a while before running with it or passing it. You can also control the ball with other body parts apart from your hands.
Choose Between Long and Short Passes
After controlling the ball, you may take a few seconds to determine what's more achievable between a long or a short pass. This move relies on the gap between you and your next teammates or the aggressiveness of the opponent's defense.
Choosing between a long or a short pass is essential in improving your first touch after a receipt because it determines the energy you apply to redirect the ball. You can use the trap and release technique, where you make the first touch and immediately send the ball to the next target.
Stand on the Toes
Standing on your toes is suitable when waiting to make the first touch. However, some players stand on their flat feet instead of their toes, making it hard to break from their firm contact on the ground. In comparison, standing on your toes gives you the advantage of adjusting your posture with minimal effort and time after getting a pass.
You can control your balance and adapt to a new position that accommodates your first touch better. For example, if the pass comes at high speed or deflects, you can swiftly develop a plan to control it if you're on your toes. The position also helps you bounce quickly and remain light in readiness to receive the pass.
Avoid Turning Away from the Ball
As you make the first touch, the ball must always remain in front of you. When the ball is approaching, avoid turning to your side or standing in poor positions that can interfere with your ability to control the pass. Instead, you should judge the ball's movement and station your body in its way.
Instead of reaching for the ball, please stay in your current position and let it come to you. Going for it by stretching your body results in a poor first touch as you lower your chances of successful ball cushioning and control.
Utilize the Space Around You
After getting your first touch, analyze the space around you to know the suitable direction to move. Stopping the ball without the intention to pass or roll with it can give the nearby defenders a chance to regain ball possession to their team's advantage. Likewise, utilizing the surrounding area buys you time to make the best moves as you look for an opening through which you can push the ball.
If there's a defender on your right side, utilize your left space and play the ball in that area after getting the first touch. Similarly, you can use the space behind you if the defender attacks from your front. In the presence of a defender, your immediate action should be pushing the ball to the open area around you to prevent them from taking the ball from you.
Drills are designed to improve your first touch. You can use cones and practice against a wall or with other players. The first drill involves two players standing opposite each other, with two cones at the center point, to ensure the pass is straight. After the other player kicks the ball to you, run a short distance forward and stop the ball with the side of your foot to control it.
You can set two cones side by side for solo practice, leaving space for the ball to pass. A wall in front of you should act as a block that bounces the ball back towards you. You can practice control and space utilization after the ball hits the wall and returns. It would be best if you also learned to receive a pass and turn at once, saving time and blocking a counterattack.
The first touch significantly affects your team's ability to possess the ball longer than your opponents. You can achieve ball control after the first touch by juggling it before making the next move. You should also learn to utilize the space around you to reduce contact with the opposing defense.
Keep your body towards the ball when expecting a pass, and calculate your next move precisely. Lastly, dedicate more time for practice to strengthen your first touch. A soft first touch can affect ball coordination between you and your teammates.