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6 Proven Ways to Improve Your Kid’s Core Football Skills (2021)

Are you looking for ways to improve your child’s core football skills? Perhaps they’re new to football and you want tips to help them excel. Or maybe they have experience playing the game but you want to see them take it a notch up.

Whatever the reason, in this blog, I’ll share with you 6 sure ways that will improve your child’s core football skills.

What are core football skills?

Football is both a technical and tactical game. However, you cannot fully appreciate the tactical side if you haven’t yet conquered the technical aspect.

Moreover, football techniques are not confined to just one area of the game. In fact, the modern footballer is expected to possess a number of skills in different areas of the game if they are to compete at a high level. Think of Ronaldo and Messi. These players have their core skills nailed in every department including 1v1 tricks, turning, ball control, long and short-range passing, freekicks. The list can go on.

So what does your child need to do to improve their football skills?

1. Break it down into steps

Kids can sometimes feel overwhelmed when they try something new. Especially if it appears difficult. In fact, I have worked with students in the past who have even teared up because they notice everyone else can do a particular skill but them.

To overcome this, you need to break down the steps behind the skills and feed this information progressively to your child. They need to feel like they have achieved something. And by breaking it down, they’ll get a little taste of accomplishment and this would be their incentive to keep working at it.

This tip sounds really simple but you’ll be surprised with how often parents (and coaches) can be impatient and expect kids to pick up skills the first time around.

Let’s take a look at an example. Here is a core turning skill called the Roll Back. 

To teach your child this skill, you need to break it down into the following steps:

Step1: Dribble with the ball close to your feet and your body facing forward

Step 2: As you approach the cone make contact with the ball using the sole of your foot

Step 3: With a firm grip drag the ball to the side of your body. As you do this, pivot your body round. Bend your knees to help you open up your body.

Step 4: Change pace and break away


So if you want to improve your child’s football skills at home, remember to break down each skill into easily digestible steps.

2. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

It was the famous English manager, Sir Bobby Robson who said that ‘practice makes permanent’. Studies have shown that children need to practice something at least 75 times before they can learn it.

It’s all good and well breaking down a core football skill into steps, but there’s no use if you don’t keep practising it. 

You need to teach your child that your brain stores information with each practice. The aim is to build a toolbox of core skills which you can pull out in a blink of an eye without even thinking. It’s just like driving a car. You understand the technique of overtaking, applying gas, breaking or changing direction without even thinking about it. That’s because you’ve done it so many times.

The same applies when trying to improve your child’s football skills. Repetition will help them build habits and if you’ve broken the technique into simple steps, you’ll see the rewards!

However, as with most young children, you’ll probably hear the words ‘this is boring, can we do some shooting?’. 

To overcome this, make repetition fun! To do that, think of creative ways to teach the skills. With younger children from around the age of 4 and 6, I use their imagination. Pretend the floor is a burning lava and that they can only stay on the rocks (squares) to be safe. And on the rocks, they have to perform 20 movements before the lava is temporarily released. You get the idea.

3. Apply pressure

In coaching, we call this fully-opposed. But there is a stage before that which is called semi-opposed. This basically means you apply a little pressure on your child when they apply the skill. For instance, you may act as a defender, drawing in close but without tackling.

Fully opposed means you can now fully tackle as you would in a game scenario.

Both steps are crucial for improving your child’s core football skills and decision-making. This is because children need to learn how to apply their skills in a game-based environment.

One great way to apply pressure in a semi-opposed manner is to shadow. This is where you stand directly opposite your child and ask them to repeat a skill a number of times down a line as you move backwards with them an arm’s length apart.

how to improve football skills

This will help them keep control of the ball without letting it drift too far ahead of them. 

Equally a great fully opposed 1v1 scenario you can use to improve your child’s football skills, is to set up two goals on one side of the pitch. Position your child directly opposite you 15 yards apart. Play the ball into their feet. On their first touch, the game is live. They have to try dribble and apply their skills to get around you and score in either one of the goals.

Meanwhile, you have to try to tackle them and clear the ball. If the score, they earn a point. If you tackle them, you earn the point.

football skills training

4. Practice without a ball

It may sound odd to improve your child’s core football skills without a ball. But this has huge benefits.

Football is a physical sport, and it requires your body to work with and without the ball.

Working on your physical technique can, therefore, help boost your child’s performance.

Most core skills require the following physical skills:

  1. Speed
  2. Change of pace
  3. Agility
  4. Balance
  5. Flexibility
  6. Power

Let’s use the Chop (Facao) as an example. The 1v1 core football trick requires you to change direction by jumping up and meeting the ball with a chop under your standing leg. This requires balance, flexibility and a change of pace. 


So how can you improve your child’s physical skills? Here are two useful ways:

1. HIIT training:

This stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and it’s an excellent way to build your fast-twitch fibres so your child can react quickly. You just pick 10 or so movements and practice them for 30 seconds followed by a 30 second break.

2. Physical Conditioning exercises

This is where you become the creator. Use cones to work on areas such as power, speed, agility and flexibility. As a tip, you should always create your physical conditioning exercises with football skill in mind.

For example, if you are working on a turning skill, then create your physical conditioning exercise to mimic the turning technique you want your child to develop.

5. Film it and analyse performance together

Professional football teams hire a team of analysts to watch back footage of games to point out areas of strengths and weaknesses.

There is value in watching back your own performance and taking ownership of it, good or bad.

From a child’s perspective, it can be encouraging too. When they watch back footage of the right technique being applied, it can reinforce their understanding of it and make them feel proud.

Equally, it can help them understand where they may be going wrong as they get an objective look at their performance.

So the next time you work with your child on a skill in your back garden, film them doing it. Then sit together at the end and discuss where improvements need to be made. They’ll be able to see what you see.

6. Invest in a One to One football coach

One to One football coaching is an excellent way to build your child’s core football skills.

Your child will have the sole attention of the coach which means they can correct technique quicker and show them new skills. 

Having your own One to One football coach can also help your child stay motivated. They set goals and a roadmap for achieving those goals which can keep your child engaged. You can learn more about the value of One to One coaching here.

At Samba Soccer Schools, we offer kids in London professional One to One coaching. You can learn more by visiting our one to one coaching page.


If you want your child to improve their footballing ability, you must work on their core football skills. You can apply the 6 tips to any skill ranging from passing, shooting, volleying, heading, 1v1 tricks, turning etc.

Just always remember to make it as fun as possible for your child to enjoy! 

Core Football Skills FAQ’s

How can I improve my child’s football skills?

Break down the skills into steps for children to easily digest. Then keep repeating the movements over and over so it becomes second nature to them.

How Can I Find Football Classes in London For My Child?

At Samba Soccer Schools, we offer both group classes and One to One coaching. To find your nearest venue, click here.

What are the best Soccer Drills to Practice at Home?

There are a number of soccer drills you can practice at home but it really depends on what you want to improve. The best drills to improve your 1v1 tricks should involve a real defender so you can really understand how to apply the skill.

What is the most important skill in soccer?

There isn’t one single skill which can be considered the most important in football. To compete at a high level, you need to have skills in different departments including turning, 1v1 tricks, heading, shooting, volleying, passing etc.

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