Controlling the Ball Under Pressure

Controlling the Ball Under Pressure

How to control the ball

Available time

It’s important to know how much time is available before you try to control the ball. Sometimes, a quick one-touch pass or shot might be the better choice. If you find yourself lacking options or being closed down unexpectedly then you’ve probably made a poor decision. For example, there’s rarely time to trap the ball when you’re in the opposing penalty box, so you shouldn’t attempt to trap it there.

Setup touch

The advantage of controlling the ball is that it makes your following touch easier. When you trap the ball first, you can then produce a better shot, pass and so on. Keep in mind that if your first touch is bad there may not be a second one.

Moving away from pressure

You need to be aware of the position of nearby defenders before you get the ball. Usually, you want to play or direct the ball away from your opponents and shield it so you don’t lose possession.

Different ways of controlling the ball


Trapping the ball is used to stop hard or uncomfortable passes that cannot be controlled otherwise. Taking too long to trap the ball could be risky if there are defenders nearby so make sure you “scan” the field ahead of time. This is especially important when you have your back to the opposing goal.

Receiving into space

Often, the ball may be played to you while you are running. Instead of stopping, you should learn to receive the ball on the run. Look at any professional game and you’ll notice that the player with the ball is always moving. At the higher levels of the game, you almost never see a player standing in place in order to trap the ball.


Always look behind before receiving or turning with the ball. If there is an opponent on your back you should think about directing the ball away from him instead of turning. You don’t want to trap the ball at your feet when somebody is marking you tightly.

180 turn

The 180 turn can be performed when there is nobody marking you. As the ball arrives, control it with the inside of your foot while turning your upper body 90 degrees. After controlling the ball, turn another 90 degrees and dribble forward.


Let’s say that you are about to receive the ball, but there is a defender marking you. The most important thing is not to panic. By standing firm and using your arms you can usually hold him off. Keep your body between the ball and your marker. Use your foot that is farther away from him to control the ball.


Feints are very effective when a defender is marking you tightly. When a pass is coming to you for example, move your leg back as if you are about to shoot, but instead of shooting simply push the ball to the side and dribble. A good feint will often leave your opponent behind in confusion.

Updated: July 1, 2016
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