Juggling has forever been a staple for players who look to improve their overall touch and ball control while training solo.
You don't need to be a master at juggling to play soccer, but it does help with balance, coordination, and aerial skill on the ball.
Watch this video to learn the basic steps to juggle with the feet, thighs, headers, and even shoulders. Then learn a few tricks and secret tips from pro freestyler, DJ Diveny:
HOW TO JUGGLE:
STEP 1 - Ankle Locked
Before making contact with the ball, have your ankled 'locked' in a neutral position
This means your toe is pointed forward and if something were to hit your foot, it wouldn't flex downward or wobble
STEP 2 - Let the Ball Come Down!
When learning to juggle, many players try to hit the ball too early while it's still quite high up in the air. Let the ball drop below knee height before making contact
STEP 3 - Hit the Bottom Center of the Ball Using the Laces
The exact contact point on the foot should be the area between the midfoot and the toes. Do not hit the ball with your toes or your ankle. Be sure to hit the bottom center of the ball if you want the ball to go straight upward. If you hit the back, the ball goes forward; the side, the ball will go to the opposite side, etc
STEP 4 - Make a Kicking Motion From the Knee Down, Not From the Hip
Extending the leg from the hip will happen when players do not wait for the ball to come down. Extending the entire leg upwards will leave you more off-balance and make it more difficult to have a clean touch. SO, let the ball drop, then kick from the knee down
STEP 5 - ADJUST!
This is a huge benefit of juggling, you have to be ready to move! If your touch is off, be ready, anticipate where it will go, then react quickly moving your feet and body into position to control the ball again. Our touches will rarely be absolutely perfect so we have to be able and ready to make quick adjustments
SECRET TIPS TO LEVEL UP YOUR JUGGLING:
TIP 1 - Start with one touch at a time!
If you're new to juggling, or just struggling, use the technique described in steps 1-4 and simply do 1 juggle, catching the ball at about waist height afterwards. This way, we refine the technique and we get more repetitions on juggling itself rather than chasing the ball around when we mess up. After you can get 10 catches in a row on each side, level up to 2 touches before catching. Use the same foot twice, then alternating
TIP 2 - Use Bounces for Beginner Feet Juggling
If you've worked on tip 1, you can also level up by letting the ball bounce between touches. This will give you more time for step 5 (adjust) so you position yourself for the next touch. Just remember to use the same techniques described above. For an extra challenge, try restricting the amount of space you have or trying to get from one location to another without losing the juggle (these are great challenges if you're good at juggling too!)
TIP 3 - Record and Compare!
Do you feel like you're trying your best, but are still really struggling and just don't get it? That's okay, it happens to a lot of players. If this is you or if you're trying a difficult juggling move, record yourself for a few attempts. Then, compare your video to a video of someone doing juggles or something similar to what you're attempting. This way, you can realize the differences and understand what you should correct on your own!
TIP 4 - Practice Tricks and Advanced Juggling Skills
Example, instead of just trying to juggle - try to complete a Maradona 7 which is 2 feet touches, 2 thigh touches, 2 shoulder touches, and a header without dropping the ball. Or, try learning a freestyle move like the around the world.
By concentrating on these difficult skills we achieve a few things:
We have fun attempting a hard challenge
We shift our focus from simple touches to the difficult skill, without realizing it, you'll be doing hundreds or even thousands more juggles because your focused on completing your challenge
TIP 5 - Try Juggling With Different Objects!
This is mostly for players looking for a harder juggling challenge, but if you use objects like balloons or balled up bags it can be a fun challenge for beginners too
Using a different object, for example a tennis ball, will make it more difficult to do juggling steps 1-5. The tennis ball is much smaller so the contact point has to be more precise! The adjustments and reaction time will need to be quicker too. Even more difficult could be something like an American football. With it's irregular shape you will have to hit it differently to keep it up and have serious reaction speed when the ball move strangely.
Whether you're just starting your juggling journey or can already do 1,000 these tips will help you improve if you practice them consistently! Set goals to achieve like most consecutive juggles, most juggles right/left foot only, most consecutive headers, most around the worlds in a row, etc. Setting realistic goals will help you stay motivated to improve!
And even if you don't improve a lot at juggling, don't worry... Dribbling, passing, receiving, and finishing are still much more important skillsets than juggling alone :)