Basic Skills for Soccer

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As any parent can attest to, getting your child involved in something new always seems to come with a side of anxiety—for the both of you! Your child might not know what to expect as they’re being thrown into an activity they have no idea how to play and you the parent are making sure they behave themselves, don’t get hurt, and find fun and success.

It’s something I’m going through a lot right now with my oldest being six years old and youngest at three—in the midst of lots of newness. Soccer has been the latest endeavor, so wanted to shed some light on the experience in hopes of putting everyone’s mind at ease.

Here are the basic skills needed for soccer:


It’s not so much kicking the ball with your body as you run up and down the field that’s the tricky part, but rather you can’t pick up the ball once things get out of control. That said, once you get your brain past the fact of “I want to pick this ball up” the dribbling is definitely a basic skill to master.

In fact, it’s probably the most important skill unless you, your child or whoever it is that is new to soccer just plans on standing still and passing all game.

So yes, dribbling—essentially making small kicks and taps between your feet to advance the ball down the field. Just like a basketball player must dribble down the court by bouncing the ball off the hardwood, the only way a soccer player can take the ball anywhere with them is by dribbling with their feet.

Receiving a Pass or Trapping

Dribbling is so essential as a main soccer skill that many beginners just can’t wait to start doing it once the ball starts bouncing their way. The problem is, especially at a young age, minds and bodies aren’t yet fully connected, leading to a lot of missed balls or out of control dribbles.

So, trapping is a necessary and fundamental soccer skill, and involves bringing the ball to a stop by clamping the foot down on top of the ball to slow it down and halt its movement altogether.


This is a two-parter, so stick around. One, passing is definitely a basic soccer skill given it’s one of the biggest “team” sports around. In fact, all you have to do is watch 10 seconds of a match to realize how important passing is…not only to score a goal but to control tempo, set up plays and strategy, and more. Passing goes forward backward to the side, and everywhere in between.

Everyone on the team must know how to pass, and that includes the goalie (something youth teams might not have to worry about for a while, but still worth a mention).

The second part, though, is passing properly. One of the biggest struggles so far that I’ve seen with my son and teammates is that very few of them understand the concept of passing the ball with the inside of your foot. Instead, there is a lot of toeing going on, where kids approach the ball on a straight line and kick the ball with the very front of their shoe.

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While it certainly gets the job done, and could be worse, kicking with inside of the foot offers a lot more control and removes much of the chance for error given you’re kicking the ball with a larger surface area.


Since we are talking passing, spacing is one of the skills you really take for granted. The crux of it is you don’t expect it to be an actual skill until you realize just how little of it is being carried out on the field. Not to mention how crucial it is to success.

Now, when kids are just getting started in soccer, they all just buzz to the ball like a big and clumsy swarm of bees. When you compare advanced skills and ages to beginner, this is perhaps the biggest difference between the two.

So, spacing is definitely a basic skill to the game, and once understood, things like dribbling, passing, and more start to make a lot more sense.


This isn’t first on the list nor is it last. I mean, it’s a given, but it also wouldn’t be the number one thing I rush out to teach someone about soccer. Reason being, being able to shoot the ball comes as a result of most of the other skills listed above. Meaning, you can’t really get a good shot off if you don’t know how to dribble, pass, or receive (trap).

But once those skills are starting to develop, shooting becomes an obvious priority, and it comes in stages. The first is to simply learn to shoot the ball on goal. Find the big target and kick towards it. From there, you can start getting more creative in terms of the types of shots, velocity, direction, and even learning to shoot without kicking.

What’s tough is finding the space to practice if not at a park with a net, so finding a foldable pop-up soccer goal is key to ongoing and engaging training.


I wouldn’t say this is one of the most basic soccer skills, but that’s only because kids of a certain age don’t even play with a goalkeeper, and there is only one goalie on the field for each team at a time. Meaning, the majority of the players will need to be well-versed in all of the above and not so much in goalkeeping.

That said, a goalkeeper must know how to pass, receive a pass, and more—pretty much all of the other things listed here. Not to mention that a goalkeeper is an integral piece of the game! So yes, stopping the ball from making its way into the net is a fundamental skill. It comes with correct positioning, communication, listening, instincts, and more.


Now we start moving away from the “hard” skills and into some of the softer or, said differently skills that aren’t only associated with soccer, but every kids or beginner’s sport. Communication on the field is key, especially as kids’ first instinct is to just get the ball and zoom ahead.

Once the basic skill of communication to let teammates know another is open or that a defender is approaching, you truly start to appreciate soccer for the team sport that it is.


And with the above, sportsmanship, especially for kids is just a basic and necessary skill most should be trying to master when first getting started. I mean, this is a big reason why kids should play sports in the first place.

As excited as kids get to score a goal or win, they get just as down when they make a mistake or lose. So, try and talk kids through how that feels from both perspectives, and how to tastefully celebrate the good times, and to take the bad in stride.

About Ryan from Sport Stuff Genius 58 Articles
A complete sports fanatic most of his life, Ryan has taken his interest and expert knowledge to Sport Stuff Genius—a blog dedicated to uncovering answers to different questions and bringing fun to all things ball.