Skills give thrills Sports

Time to pick up a football skill!

Pick one skill or all seven. Get yourself a football. Master it!

Pick one skill or all seven. Get yourself a football. Master it!   | Photo Credit: Chidanand Sekar

It is that time of the year when a galaxy of European stars descend on France to try and compete for Euro 2016, while those from Latin America are weaving their magic in Copa America Centenario. The title that they compete for as a team might be the most important thing, but they are also there to showcase their individual brilliance, showing off their tricks to a global stage.

Time to pick up a football skill!
Have you always been in awe of those skills that your favourite footballer uses? Wanted to learn it, but didn’t know where to start off? Here’s a select set of seven skills that you can try and practice while you watch your favourite stars in action. It’s going to take a lot of time and patience to master any of these, so keep trying… and don’t give up easily!

Now, what are you waiting for? Pick up that football and start with whichever you want...

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A dribbling move employed by an offensive player, it is used to fool a defender into thinking that the attacker is moving in a direction that she/he actually doesn’t intend to move in. There is no clarity as to who did it first (there is even a book called Who Invented the Stepover?), but popular belief is that Law Adam was the inventor of this move.

Without actually touching the ball at any point, flick your foot over the ball in the direction in which you are feigning to move.

With the outer side of the foot closer to the ball, push it past the defender and accelerate away.

While the name stepover comes from the fact that you step over the ball, it is also called scissors, owing to the pattern that your legs make when you do it twice.

And as if one stepover wasn’t enough, some like Cristiano Ronaldo repeat it umpteen times, thoroughly confusing the defender in front of him!

Cruyff turn

Named after the Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff, it is an evasive move now commonly used in the game. The turn came into prominence in the 1974 FIFA World Cup, when Cruyff used it in the game against Sweden. The full time score read nil-nil, but it will always be remembered for the turn. And Swedish defender Jonas Olsson, who was at the receiving end of the trick, has gone down into footballing annals for all the wrong reasons…

Face the opponent with the ball, making sure they are under the impression that you are going to take a shot or cross the ball.

Using your body as a shield, put your foot that is going to be planted between the ball and the defender.

Using the inside of the other foot, drag the ball into the space behind the planted foot, careful not to kick it.

Change your pace and chase after the ball, while your opponent is left flat-footed in the other direction.


Fancy name for a football move, isn’t it? But if you see this trick, you’ll understand that it can’t be better summed up. An impressive skill and often employed in street football, it isn’t seen much at the highest level, owing to the low success rate and the high level of control required to pull it off.

With your feet positioned either side of the ball, use one foot to roll the ball over the other leg.

Lean forward and jump into the air, kicking the ball with the heel of the leg over which the ball is rolling.

The ball loops over your head, and possibly that of your opponent as well, and lands in front of you to be controlled by you and taken forward.

The trajectory of the ball, as you can see, is that of a rainbow. Popular in football computer games and in a sequence from the movie Escape to Victory, Neymar has perfected his own version of it in which he uses both his legs to loop the ball over his head.


A potent weapon in every footballer’s arsenal, nutmegs are among the most popular playing techniques. Yet, the best in the game still use it time and again to get the ball past their opponents. This trick is so simple, that pulling it off when your opponent least expects it, makes it all the more beautiful.

This move depends a lot on your opponents. Are they over committing themselves? Are they heading too fast for the tackle? Are they off balanced, or going early for that dive?

Whatever be the case, exploit the gap between their legs, passing the ball through it before skipping past the defender and retrieving the ball.

No opponent is going to be nutmegged too often, so it might be a good idea not to over utilise this move.

The 360

Also called the Marseille turn, Maradona turn or Zidane turn, the 360 is a dribbling skill unique to the game of football. Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane were the best exponents of this move in their generation, dancing past defenders and drawing oohs and aahs from the gathered crowd.

On approaching an opponent face-to-face and with the ball close to your body, use your stronger foot to drag the ball backwards, before landing on that foot to give yourself balance for the turn.

The body spin happens in the same fluid move. Even as you place your stronger foot on the ground, use the weaker foot to drag the ball back again, shielding the opponent with your back at this moment.

Complete your turn and then start to accelerate, as you’ll now be facing the direction in which the ball is moving. The defender would still be trailing you, giving you those few extra seconds to get your attack going.

Rivelino flip flap/Ronaldinho elastico

Similar to stepovers in that it is used to fool the defender into believing the attacker is going in a direction she/he isn’t actually going to go, the flip flap is a tougher manoeuvre as it requires greater speed and flexibility. Invented by Japanese-Brazilian footballer Sergio Echigo, it was popularised in the 1970 FIFA World Cup by Brazilian playmaker Rivelino, who had learnt the trick from Echigo. Their countryman Ronaldinho, however, took it to an all new level, by making the elastico almost his signature move.

While still facing an opponent, use the outer side of your foot to flick the ball to one side.

Even before landing the foot that was used to flick the ball, use it in mid-air to cushion the ball, now with the inside of the boot, and whip it back the other way to take it past your marker.

Puskas V move

In 2009, an award was established - the FIFA Puskas Award - to recognise the most beautiful goal of the year. Hungarian footballer Ferenc Puskas, however, had already left his mark in the game. For the Puskas V move is perfect not only for evading tackles, but also to improve dribbling and close control.

With your support foot planted firmly in the ground, use the bottom of your stronger foot to reach out for the ball.

Drag the ball back towards you using that foot, making sure that it is one quick movement.

In one fluid motion, use your stronger foot to now flick the ball at an angle to where you brought it from initially.

Finish the move by either continuing your run, making a pass or taking a shot. This move is particularly effective when the defender lunges for the ball, diving in for the tackle.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 10:01:43 AM |

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