How effective are you with the ball when you’re under pressure from the defender?

When you receive a pass from your team mates with your back to goal are you able to do anything with it, or do you struggle to turn in such a small area when the defender is on top of you?

I bet that given half the chance, you take a touch and pass it back to one of your team mates, don’t you?

In the past you’ve tried to turn but run straight into the defender.  You didn’t see or hear it, but you know that your team mates were rolling their eyes and groaning as you lost the ball again.

Playing with your back to goal can place you under a lot of pressure

But just think how different it would be if you could take that pass and skip past your marker, taking them out of the game completely.  You’d find yourself in so many more scoring opportunities, bagging goals left, right and centre.  Your team mates would see you as their key player and the opposition defence would be terrified of you.

Many coaches will tell you that you should be playing safe.  You should just hold up the ball and play it square, or even backwards, to one of your team mates.

Where’s the fun in that? 

Well, I’m telling you to start taking risks.  I don’t want to see you trapping that ball – I want to see you destroying your marker with quick, slick moves that your own team mates will look at in amazement.

In this post, I’m going to lay out a series of moves that you can use to control and turn with the ball that will get you playing like a pro Futsal player (and I’m even going to throw in a couple of sneaky tips you can use that the opposition won’t see coming).

‘Pivot’ Round Your Opposition

The idea of a ‘pivot’ player might be a new idea for you, but it’s a role commonly seen in Futsal teams.

This ‘pivot’ is the focal point for attacking moves, taking up a position in the opposition’s half, right up against the last defender with their back to goal.  It is up to this player to either hold up the ball and play in his team mates (like a ‘target man’) or ‘pivot’ around their marker and set themselves up with goal scoring chances.

The best pivot players are cunning and will take advantage of any positional mistakes by their marker to get themselves into these positions.  They do this by turning quickly with the ball as they receive it, in a single fluid motion.  To keep the defender guessing, they will use a range of turns that depend on the positioning of the defender.

The following are 4 basic turns effective pivot players will use –

Opening the Gate

  • As the ball is played into you, with your back to goal, take a step towards it to create a small amount of space between you and your marker.
  • Meet the ball with your body at a 45 degree angle.
  • Let it roll across your body and receive it with the inside of your back foot.
  • Play the ball away from the defender with the outside of your back foot.

Inside of the Foot

  • Again, as the ball comes to you take a step towards it to create space between you and your marker.
  • Meet the ball at a slight angle.
  • This time, use the inside of the foot closest to the ball and control it across your body.

Outside of the Foot

  • With this turn there is less need to step away from your marker, as long as you are shielding the ball.
  • Meet the ball at a slight angle.
  • Reach across your body with the foot closest to the ball.
  • Control the ball with the outside of this foot and bring it back across your body.

Cruyff Turn

  • As the ball approaches you, take a step towards it.
  • Meet the ball more straight on to create maximum space between your feet.
  • Make contact using the inside of the foot closest to the ball.
  • Instead of controlling it across your body (see the Inside of the Foot turn above), control it behind your standing leg.

There are so many more variations of these types of turns, but if you can master these 4 moves you will be able to outfox any marker.

Choose Your Weapon

So which move should you be attempting?

The temptation is to work on just one of these turns, but this isn’t going to help you.

The first time, you’ll get away with it. However, the defender is not going to get humiliated for a second time and they’re going to be ready for you.

To keep your marker guessing you need to have all 4 of these turns in your locker.

But you need to be making the right move at the right time.  If the defender is sitting just off your left shoulder and you try to turn using the inside of the right foot, you’re going to run right into trouble.

This is why it’s so important that you are aware of what is going on around you – specifically, you need to know where your marker is before you even get the ball.

I have written this article on how to improve your vision and awareness on the pitch.

You have to be looking over your shoulder to check the defender’s positioning.

As you check away from them, take a quick look to see if they follow and note if they are to your left or right.

A lot of defenders will make this even easier for you, as they might place a hand on you to keep you in check. What they don’t know is this is giving you the advantage.  You now know where they are and, more importantly, where they aren’t (note to defenders – don’t put your hands on the person you are marking!).

Even if they don’t put a hand on you, there’s nothing stopping you from reaching back and touching them to see where they are.

If you want to be really devious, feel free to give them a little ‘shove’ as you check away from them to give you a little extra space (I didn’t tell you to do that!).

The point is, you need to decide on how you’re going to turn with the ball depending on where the defender is in relation to you.

Get To Work

Ready for some practice?

If you’re going to pull off these turns in a single fluid motion then you better believe that you’re going to have to practice them.

Now, ideally, you want to work on these with a bunch of other players.

But what if you can’t rely on 10 or so players to give up their precious time to help you become a world-beating futsal player?

It is possible to work on these moves with a friend or two, or even on your own.

Practicing on your own

So let’s assume that a popular person like yourself has no friends available to help them out (I know, ridiculous isn’t it?!).

Don’t let that stop you.

Grab a ball and stand in-front of a sturdy wall (preferably one without windows).

Just spend 15-20 minutes hitting firm and low passes against the wall.  As they rebound back to you, I want you to turn with the ball using one of these moves.

Do 10 repetitions of each move before trying out the next one.

Practicing with friends

If you’ve managed to rope in a friend to help you out, then get them to play the ball to you.

This time, your friend has to call out the type of turn you have to do as they play the ball to you.

Do 10 reps and then swap to give them a go.

If you manage to get a couple of other players to help out then one of them can take the role of defender to try and stop you.  The ‘Tag Turning’ drill is designed to add pressure to the player receiving the ball –

  • Set your two friends facing each other, about 10-12 metres apart.  Stand between them.
  • Friend #1 has the ball.
  • Run backwards towards Friend #2 (the defender) and tag them on the shoulder.
  • Check back towards Friend #1, with Friend #2 following to mark you.
  • Call for the ball.
  • Friend #1 passes you the ball and you have to receive and turn with it, beating Friend #2.

Tag Turning Drill

A couple of points to remember – call for the ball early so you have space to receive it, and keep an eye out for where the defender is.

With enough practice, you and your friends will become really dangerous players and the opposition won’t know what to do with you.

Summary

If you don’t have the ability to turn with the ball and beat a defender, you’re not going to be very useful to your team.  You’ll slow the game down and potentially play your team mates into trouble.

Eventually, your team mates are just going to stop passing to you.

But, if you have these 4 moves in your locker, the opposition defence will see you as the tricky danger-man and will be terrified of marking you.  They won’t know whether to give you space or sit tight on you, as either way they know you’re going to beat them.

So, watch the videos and get out and practice each of these turns.

Your team mates, rather than groaning, will seek you out with every pass and will look on in astonishment as you leave your marker for dead every time.

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