What is a Dribble in Soccer?

A ‘dribble’ is a move in which a player runs with the ball at his feet past one or more defenders, usually in a twisting run, also known as ‘dribbling’.

Dribbling is the skillful practice of outwitting your competitor by navigating the ball away from them, all while keeping possession.

Ultimately, your opponents are the only obstacle standing between you and success on the pitch (scoring goals). If you can outplay them with exceptional dribbling moves, you can create space and opportunities to score.

A successful dribble high up the field usually leads to a goal-scoring opportunity or a player being fouled, resulting in a free kick or sometimes a penalty kick if inside the penalty area.

soccer player dribbling past opponent

Techniques Used When Dribbling

When dribbling, it is recommended to keep the ball close to your feet for better control, using the correct parts of your foot to contact the ball, and keeping your head up when running maximum peripheral vision to stay aware of as much field as possible.

Outmaneuvering your opponent with the ball is a skill that requires creativity and finesse. Utilizing various dribbling techniques, either individually or in combination, you can deceive them into thinking one thing when you’re actually doing something else.

Some elements of dribbling include:

  • Performing a nutmeg on an opponent which involves kicking the ball through their legs and then running past to retrieve the ball and continuing with your dribble.
  • Stepping over the ball while dribbling, to make it appear as if you plan to turn one way while changing direction and going the other.
  • Dropping of the shoulder to trick the opponent into moving in the opposite direction you are about to travel.
  • A quick change of pace when running with the ball can sometimes be enough to pass another player and move further into an offensive position.

Where is Dribbling Used Most on a Pitch?

Dribbling is most common with attacking players, especially a winger or wide players as balance, speed and skill are important factors in successfully taking the ball past an opponent, avoiding a tackle and essentially retaining possession or creating a chance.

However, a dribble can be used anywhere on the pitch as it is an effective way to get away from an opposition player. Nowadays in soccer, defensive players including goalkeepers will be seen using dribbling and skill to get out if difficult defensive situations.

Who Are Some Well-Known Soccer Dribblers?

Some of the most iconic soccer dribblers in history include Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona and Neymar. These four players have been renowned for their technical ability while dribbling at pace past opponents with a combination of balance, skill and agility.

Other world-class players who are considered great dribblers in the modern game include Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappé, Mohamed Salah and Raheem Sterling.