The first touch that a player makes after receiving the ball is a highly underrated skill. The first touch can often make or break an attack and in some cases make a break a player’s ability to score a goal. Here is a quick-fire guide to teaching young players how to take their first touch.
A PROPER FIRST TOUCH
In the vast majority of cases, players should be looking to take their first touch..
- Away from pressure / away from the nearest defender(s)
- Into space
- Out of our feet (not too far not too close)
- On the half-turn.
However, in some cases these things hold less truth. Although players should always be looking to receive the ball and take it away from pressure or the nearest defender(s), there are some cases when the player should not receive the ball on the half-turn or out of their feet/into space.
WHEN TO RECEIVE CLOSER TO THE BODYEmbed from Getty Images
When receiving the ball in the air and attempting to control it with our first touch (rather than clear it away or shoot it), we need to look to control the ball closer to our bodies, bring it down and then play from there. A first touch that is out of our feet or into space in these cases, will usually only allow more time for a defender to react and get there before we can properly bring it down.
WHEN NOT TO RECEIVE ON THE HALF-TURNEmbed from Getty Images
Receiving on the half-turn can be dangerous if the player has pressure directly in behind them. By receiving on the half-turn in a case like this, the player on the ball is only allowing the defender a greater chance at recovering possession. In this case, receiving square-on is okay as it is more likely the player will take a first touch away from pressure. When we can receive the ball in space, usually space that we have created through positive off-the-ball movement, players should be looking to receive on the half-turn.
SCANNINGEmbed from Getty Images
Before taking a touch or receiving a pass, players need to learn how to scan the field by checking their shoulder. If they are not aware of their surroundings when taking a touch, they may easily make the mistake of taking their first touch right into pressure.
Top professional players scan the field about three times before receiving a pass in space. If we can teach our young players to do the same, they will become far more effective players.
Players should also generally be making eye contact with the player they are about to receive from, so that they are ready and prepared to receive the pass.
COMMUNICATIONEmbed from Getty Images
We also need to have communication toward the player who is about to take their first touch to help them understand if they have time and space or if they have pressure on their back and should play backwards. Players who do have pressure on their back need to understand how they can evade that pressure based on where to take their touch and the surrounding players can play an important role in that quick decision. With a lack of communication, our ability to take adequate first touches begins to falter and we won’t keep as much possession as a team.
So there it is! A quick guide to helping young players learn the art of the first touch. The first touch that a player takes is so important to their ability to carry out an effective attack and have a better chance of scoring a goal or keeping possession. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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