A player who is confident with both feet and knows when it’s appropriate to use their weaker foot has a unique talent.
What is the Goal of Improving Your Weaker Foot?
The purpose of improving your weaker foot is to become a more versatile player. Your goal is to be able to use whichever foot is necessary at the right moment. The goal is not however to ignore your dominant foot as you must also continue to practice with this foot!
Why does it matter?
Soccer is a fast-paced game that is played at 360 degrees. There is no guarantee that the ball is always going to roll to the same side as a player’s dominant foot. It would be a disservice to the team if a player, regardless of position, was not constantly ready to act with whichever foot the moment calls for.
A player who can use both feet proficiently will improve their overall ball control. A player who can dribble with both feet can better break away from their opponent than a player who favors one foot over the other and a player who can pass or shoot with both feet is a more lethal weapon on offense. Similarly, a player who knows that they can perform adequately with either foot will be more confident on the field.
Vision is also a crucial part of the total package for a great soccer player. Players who heavily favor a particular foot tend to position their body towards that side, limiting their field of vision. A player cannot anticipate what he or she cannot see. A player who can use both feet, is likely to see more of the field of play, has a better ability to read the game and react accordingly.
A player’s ability to use their weaker foot adds an element of versatility to a player’s skillset. In tennis, most players are stronger on their forehanded than backhanded. The ability to make a decent backhanded shot allows a tennis player to win more volleys by catching their opponent off guard by switching to the weaker side.
How to improve?
The first thing a player should know about improving their weaker foot is that it’s going to be a difficult process. You are going to have to act in complete opposition of your natural tendencies. In essence, you are training your brain to think a different way. Think of it as trying to learn how to write with your non-dominant hand. In the beginning, it will be awkward, and you may not be proud of the initial results. Don’t allow the perception of failure to discourage you. This will be a long, slow process, but the end results will be that you have a leg above most players on the field. Remember that practice makes perfect, and you are going to need a lot of practice.
2) Ball Juggling
Strengthening a weaker foot is essentially going back to square one. Start off with ball juggles on your non-dominant foot. To do ball juggles, a player must make several small kicks of the ball to keep it up in the air. The kicks should be small, controlled, and quick paced. The goal is to be able to do them back to back quickly and without every letting the ball hit the ground. Set yourself a target goal of 100 (or more). Try to do 10 then 20 then 30 etc. Challenge yourself to beat your last best score. By the time you accomplish your goal, you will have practiced controlling the ball with your weaker foot thousands of times. By that point, using your weaker foot will begin to feel more natural.
After mastering ball juggles, try to add motion to your practice. Create a slalom course for yourself. You can use cones, sticks, poles, rocks, or anything else that will give you a landmark. Start off with three landmarks and dribble in between them using your weaker foot. Space the landmarks out as far as you think is necessary. Initially, you should space them out a few yards. They shouldn’t be so close or so far away that the course is unusually difficult or easy to complete, but the length should be set according to the players ability.
When that feels comfortable, add another landmark. How can you tell if it’s truly comfortable? Mentally, you should feel like you know what you are doing. You should start developing a confidence. Physically, you should be able to complete the course fluidly without stopping, pausing, or kicking the ball away from the course.
Keep repeating the process until you have made yourself a slalom course with ten landmarks. Make this a part of your training regimen. As you get more and more used to the course, change it up to make sure you stay engaged and keep learning. Add more landmarks to the course. Change the spacing of the landmarks to make it more difficult. Make sure whatever you chose to do is appropriate for your skill level. Something that is unreasonably difficult will only sever as a discouragement.
4) Target Practice
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of being comfortable on a weaker foot is being able to shock opponents during a game by shooting with your weaker foot. In crucial moments, towards the final minutes of a tie game, this ability can be the difference between winning or losing.After gaining better control of your weak foot through ball juggles and putting that control to motion through a slalom course now practice shooting with your weaker foot.
At first, your attempts may be way off. You may feel like you are starting at square one all over again, and that’s ok. Shooting is an entirely different skill set than juggling or dribbling. Remember the progress you have already made and commit to practicing shots until you can score just as good with your non-dominant foot as you can juggle or dribble.
There are no magic tricks to shooting. Keep doing it over and over again until your shots become accurate and they feel natural. It’s best to practice shooting into a goal with a goalkeeper in the net who has the ability to stop your ball. That is a direct simulation of an in-game scenario, however any form of practice will help.
If you don’t have access to a goal or a goalkeeper, make a landmark for yourself. Your “goal” can be two trees, a rock, or a certain spot in a fence
5) Practice Passing
Have a target to hit, this could be a cone, a pole or anything that can be a landmark. Practice passing with various surfaces of the foot – inside, laces, outside until you can comfortably hit the target successfully and repeatedly. Concentrate on the weight of the pass. Increase or decrease the distance you pass over.
Practice aerial passes (not just ground passes) with your weaker foot and again use a landmark to hit successfully and repeatedly. Aerial passing may feel uncomfortable to start with but again the secret is in repletion and desire to improve and become comfortable doing it ready for match day.
Good luck and keep practicing!