How to dribble in football (with pictures)

How to dribble in football (with pictures)
How to dribble in football (with pictures)

American football generally has the bad reputation of being a game that involves brutal, untargeted physical energy. Indeed, even the most athletic defenders need to play with speed, precision, and a certain mental agility to give their team an advantage. Part of the game where a player's agility is especially needed is in the footwork required to perform an impressive dribble. Forwards who hold the ball and want to miss defenders (rather than confront them) need to be able to read a defender's body language and react quickly and decisively. Like any technique, dribbling is an art that requires practice aimed at perfection.


Part 1 of 3: learn the basics of dribbling

Be a Great Football Player Step 1

Step 1. Read the game while you run with the ball

Knowing how to dribble is a skill that is usually used by players holding the ball to avoid being attacked by defenders, so the first step in performing a good dribble is to carefully observe defenders who are on you. surround as you move around the field. As soon as you start running with the ball, make an effort to keep your head up and your eyes fixed on the ground. Examine the surface of the field in front of you to see defenders coming in from a distance so you have time to react before they come in front of you. No matter how nimble you are, you won't be able to dribble if you fall victim to an attack you didn't see coming.

Defenders will not always come towards you from the front. To get a pretty good idea of ​​which sides the defensive threats will come from, don't forget to take a few glances at the sides as well

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Step 2. Identify the advocate (s) you are going to meet

To succeed in a dribble, you will need to distinguish the defender (or sometimes, "the defenders") who is likely to get you into trouble. It requires making a decision on the fly as to which defenders might intercept you on the pitch before you pass them with the ball. The best way to develop this skill is to practice putting yourself in this situation so that you can explore possible solutions. Perform simulation exercises, for example trying to run with the ball while having a few friends or teammates scattered on the field and playing the role of defenders.

  • If you feel that none of the defenders will be able to successfully face you, don't worry about dribbling, just run to pass them, as this is much less risky and likely to gain you more ground.
  • Don't underestimate the speed of defenders. If you see a defender 20 yards away from you, assuming you and that defender are able to run 40 yards in approximately 5 seconds (a reasonable time for both attackers and defenders who are professionals and often students in the field. universities). When the two of you are running towards each other it is not impossible that the defender could have an advantage over you and just two seconds can make a big difference.
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Step 3. Make believe that you are going to change direction

When you get close to a defender who is trying to block your way (which, as noted above, can happen in just a few seconds), use your body language to try and confuse them as to which direction you will be tempted. to take when you will be close to him. Look at him and make a few quick dodging movements to your right and then to your left, using your head, shoulders and torso to disorient him. Do not engage too much in any of these movements before the moment of the actual dribbling, as this could slow you down by wasting valuable time and ultimately make you more vulnerable.

This way of disorienting defenders takes time and can delay your movement on the pitch. If you're surrounded or have defenders right behind you, you probably want to skip this technique and try your feint right away. When the time comes to dodge an attack, even a fraction of a second can make a big difference, so don't waste any opportunity to gain ground by trying to dribble when it's not needed

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Step 4. Simulate a change of direction

As soon as you get close to your opponent, observe him. It will probably try to anticipate and counter your movements as you dodge it and move back and forth. When you see that he is following your movements, pretend to be heading in one direction. Take a quick step forward in that direction and lean your torso and hips in that same direction. The defender will “bite the bait” by leaning or moving in the direction you are faking trying to reach you.

Don't get too carried away in your simulation, the success of your feint depends on your ability to transit your "simulated" movement in the opposite direction at lightning speed

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Step 5. Quickly change direction and accelerate

When your attacker awkwardly engages to block your movement in one direction, you launch in the opposite direction as fast as you can so that he doesn't have time to react and correct his mistake. Use the power of your legs to propel yourself in the opposite direction and to move forward diagonally and away from the direction your opponent has moved or leaned. As soon as you've done that, start running as fast as you can, as your opponent will realize their mistake as soon as you start running and will probably run as fast as they can to intercept you.

Remember to keep your head up to continue watching for other defenders who may arrive once you get past the first one. Even if you've managed to get past linemen and defenders, you still have a lot to worry about when it comes to defensive safety, so stay alert

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Step 6. Run to escape your opponent if he is heading straight for you

When you start a dribble by trying to get rid of your opponent with dodges and quick moves, you always run the risk that your opponent will not "bite the hook" and start following your movements, but that 'on the contrary, he starts to rush straight at you. In this case, you will need to react quickly in order to avoid a serious shock. Pay attention to your opponent as you get closer to them, if they don't show any signs of slowing down while trying to stop your movement, choose a lateral direction and engage in it immediately. Plant your foot on the side of your body that is opposite to the direction you want to run and speed up to the side to propel yourself away from the defender.

  • Assuming an opponent is running straight towards you at impressive speed on the field, if you run as fast as you can in the opposite direction, it will be difficult for them to intercept you. Since he has gained a great momentum forward, the energy and power he needs to slow down and change direction will be more than what you need to accelerate in order to get away from him.
  • As soon as you are out of reach of your opponent, start running to go up the field again. Always pay attention to the positions of other defenders so that you can dodge them as soon as possible.
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Step 7. Don't waste time

For any sort of dribbling in football, it is essential not to waste time. When you have the ball, the goal of the entire defensive team is to keep you from evolving, so don't expect defenders to give you the opportunity to perform a slow dribble. Fast dribbles are always better and more efficient than slow dribbles which are more predictable. Always make movements as short and tight as possible and take care to run as fast as you can as soon as you approach a defender to avoid giving them unnecessary opportunities to intercept you.

One mistake beginners usually make when trying to learn dribbling techniques is investing too much time in simulated movements and fast back and forths when starting dribbling. While these moves can allow you to get rid of an attacker who is directly in front of you, each moment that you spend making these moves is a moment that the defenders standing beside and behind you have to move closer to you, so make brief and essential trips

Part 2 of 3: Learn to vary the dribbles

Be a Great Football Player Step 6

Step 1. Try a spinning motion

A common extension that ball carriers apply to the basic dribbling movement of "faking one direction and going another direction" is rapid spin. Turning around a defender, rather than just running away from them, can make it less obvious which direction you want to go and can also make it difficult for them to be able to intercept you. This makes this move a good choice to make when the defender is already too close for your safety. However, the act of turning can also confuse “you”, so it is extremely important to memorize defender positions before making this move to avoid a surprise attack during (or after) your rotation.

To start a spinning dribble, approach your opponent as you would dribble with a normal feint. As soon as you start fooling your opponent, quickly locate the position of other defenders. When you've managed to get your opponent to engage in one direction, dash quickly in the other direction while simultaneously rotating 360 °. As you perform the spin, move diagonally to your opponent and then start running at full speed across the court and visualize the defenders' position as soon as you face your goal again

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Step 2. Try some breaking techniques

What could be more characteristic of American football than a beefy running back who effortlessly pushes troublesome defenders with power to force him through? Force passing techniques are invaluable tools for ball holders looking for a way to keep defenders at their arm's length. The basic idea of ​​a force pass is to use an arm to physically push back the defender in order to make it difficult or impossible to counterattack. With a stiff arm well placed, a small lead can turn into an important play or even end in a TD (touchdown), so those who hold the ball frequently have an obligation to learn these moves. Note that in some minor leagues (especially junior leagues and regional leagues), the force-passing technique may be prohibited, so check with your coach before using it in a match.

  • To dribble using the Force Pass technique, run across the court as you normally would until you meet a defender. Start performing a normal feint, then pass the defender (preferably so that your arm that is not holding the ball is on the same side as the defender). Extend your free arm towards the defender with the palm of your open hand facing the defender and push it back with your arm (without trying to hit it) in order to push the defender away or even knock them down.
  • Extend your stiff arm toward a defender's chest, shoulders, or above their helmet (not over their face mask) with the palm of your hand open. Do not catch any part of your opponent's jersey when performing a force pass, especially not their mask, as this may be considered a foul and may result in a penalty.
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Step 3. Try to leap back

The goal of many basic dribbles is to get you past the defender and move up and down the pitch as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, professional scorers use any opening available to them, even if it causes them to back down. If a defender is leaning on you and you are able to react quickly enough, try quickly running backwards or leaping backwards so that they lose their balance or fall forward. Once he loses his balance or is down, he can't give you any more problems, just run to pass him and keep moving forward.

  • To perform back-facing dribbles, start by approaching the defender as you normally would. If he launches straight at you and if you have time to react, take a few quick steps (or jumps) backwards, making sure to stay out of his reach. As soon as he seems to have lost his balance or seems to want to fall, take the opportunity and walk around him, then run forward.
  • Be careful in your backing movements when you have the ball. While backing moves are useful for avoiding attacks, ultimately your goal is to move the ball forward, so start running forward or to the side as soon as you have a chance to stop backing. Remember that defenders can reach you from behind (especially if you have gained significant ground).
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Step 4. Use your attackers if they are available

It is important that you remember that you are not alone when playing with the ball. This is because once you start to run forward, it is the duty of the entire defense team to protect you against any attack. If you have one or more attackers by your side as you run with the ball, use them to your advantage. Try to dribble defenders to overtake them in order to position an attacker between yourself and the defender. Your attacker should be able to delay the defender or even get him away from you altogether, making it easier for you to advance with the ball.

Suppose, for example, that you have the ball and you are running around the field with an offensive defender to your left when you see a defender from the opposing team approaching in front of you. If you want to try to dribble in this situation, it would be smarter to fake the right, then go to the left side behind the front line defender and follow him. This way you position him to your right and your team defender protects you. Hopefully, he can react to the situation quickly and operate a crucial block, but even if he does not succeed, he can delay the defender of the opposing team by forcing him to bypass (or face it)

Part 3 of 3: Improving Your Dribbling Skills

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Step 1. Condition yourself to be strong

Strength is important to occupy all positions on the football field, but for the ball carriers who want to make feints, this is absolutely crucial. The physical power of a ball carrier is linked to the efficiency of the dribbles he will execute, the stronger he is, the more he will be able to "explode" in complicated movements and to counter attacks with power. For this, a diet favorable to the development of physical strength is an obligation for anyone who wishes to be a great dribbler.

  • Running backs, who usually have the responsibility of running with the ball and therefore often have the opportunity to dribble, often have a training routine that includes many main physical exercises and simpler exercises like drills. leg curls, deadlifts, crunches and hip curls. In addition, shoulder and chest training exercises can improve your ability to perform strong passages and shake up attacks.
  • As with all forms of development training, having your own unique football conditioning formula and technique is vital in order to prevent injuries in the drill hall and on the pitch. Make sure you understand any strength training exercise before you try it, and start with light weights until you have mastered a personal technique. If you are unsure of what to do, seek help from a professional trainer.
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Step 2. Condition yourself for speed

Speed ​​and agility are important not only for performing fast dribbles, but also for successful play and moving the ball across the court after dribbling. The faster you are, the more you will be able to move on the pitch before you even have to dribble, and the faster you will be to take advantage of a defender's mistake when trying to pass him. Increase your speed on the court with an adapted exercise program and work on strategy and speed to become the best dribbler in the world!

  • To improve their speed and agility, running backs often incorporate sprints into their training routine. As a simple sprint exercise, try the "ladder sprint". Start by running 10 yards on the ground, turning and running 10 yards backwards as fast as you can. Take a 30 second break, then run 20 yards, turn and come back running. Take a further 30 second break, then repeat for 30, 40 yards, then 50 yards, taking a 30 second break between each run.
  • A good way to gauge your progress when training for speed is to time your movements. By using a stopwatch to keep track of how long it takes you to run your sprints, you will be able to track your progress and it can encourage you to give your all to cut your record time.
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Step 3. Improve your reflexes

In the course of an important running game, the speed of reaction of the player in possession of the ball can be the difference between delay on the field, a minor gain and a touchdown in the race. Outrunning a professional defender requires you to be able to spot minor cues in your opponent's body language, judge their intentions, and get past them before they have a chance to react, sometimes all in less than a second. The faster your reflexes, the more promptly you will be able to react against your defender, which can give you a great advantage.

  • A good way to improve your dribbling reflexes is to simply practice dribbling against a reasonably experienced defender. For example, you could just try to face a friend on an empty lot and trying to run forward with the ball, pass them without letting it hit you. Doing this allows you to practice reading your opponent's playing techniques and familiarizing yourself with various dribbling techniques in addition to testing your quick reaction reflexes.
  • As an additional training method, try playing with two or more friends lined up at different points on the playing field.
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Step 4. Learn to recognize the openings

A player in possession of the ball should never attempt to pass or pass a defender when he has a clear path to either side, as this would be a reckless maneuver. Most offensive play strategies are designed to create openings (or passages) within the opposing defensive formation to allow runners to easily have a clear path to advance a long distance. Whenever possible, try to exploit these openings according to the disposition of the defenders. The best runners are always looking for loopholes in the defense to pass through, especially after dribbles, when the defenders' disposition has had to be changed.

  • To notice the loopholes in the opposing defense, you need to be careful to keep your head up and your eyes fixed on the pitch whenever you run with the ball. An excellent situational awareness is important for any footballer, especially for the one responsible for advancing the ball.
  • It may also be helpful to study the game with the guidance of an experienced player or coach. Having an overview of actions during play allows you to see how gaps in the opposing defense form and how offensive players on your team can exploit them using appropriate strategy.
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Step 5. Study the Grandmasters

The world of American football has no shortage of role models that can serve as examples for you to become a fantastic dribbler. Studying the footwork of your favorite running back or quarterback is a great way to experience power and agility in action on a world level. In addition, by observing professional American football players in action, you will be able to discover new dribbling strategies that you would not have known otherwise and it will allow you to seek to reach a high technical level. Below are some of the all-time masters of agility in the field.

  • Walter Payton: Nicknamed “Smoothness” for his seemingly effortless way of moving back and forth on the pitch, Payton is considered by some to be the greatest running back of all time. Payton's speed and agility are legendary, earning him the NFL race record for 21,803 yards.
  • Marcus Allen: Considered one of the best NFL short-distance runners ever, Allen went down in history with a 74-yard run in the 18th Annual Super Bowl that started with a fantastic dribble.
  • Jim Brown: Brown, who played in the late 1950s and early 1960s, is now known to everyone as one of the greatest American football players in the history of the sport. With an astounding talent for natural physical energy, Brown was a great force of nature to be taken into consideration on the court. When he decided to dribble instead of simply backing away from his opponents, Brown usually left them down.
  • Some of the greatest dribblers in football come from the modern era. Players like Reggie Bush, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and many others have made a name for themselves as renowned skilled runners in high school or professional level (or both).


  • Take only one or maybe two dribbling steps. If you continuously swing from side to side, the defender will attack you easily.
  • Perform your dribble with speed. Don't put it forever. Perform it in one big movement.
  • Be sure to stay in a lowered position and keep your balance during the movement.
  • Look in the opposite direction to which you are going to head. If you are looking in the direction you want to go instead of the direction you are faking, you are telling the defender which lane you want to take instead of making them think otherwise.
  • Sometimes it is better not to dribble (especially in the backfield), it is often better to find an opening to be able to pass.


  • Start performing the moves early enough while there is still enough space between you and your opponent so that they cannot attack you.
  • Don't over-celebrate a point scored or a touchdown, you could be penalized.

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