Obviously by now you know that I am absolutely OBSESSED with players technique. I have studied Dennis Bergkamp and Dimitir Berbatov for literally hundreds of hours, and our ‘touches’ series in The Soccer Vortex
is basically based on these guys and other world class class players. I highly recommend that you read Dennis Bergkamp’s book ‘Stillness and Speed’
, where you can find out exactly HOW he managed to achieve such a worldy first touch.
Remember, first touch isn’t just ‘killing’ the ball dead. You need to be able to manipulate the ball so that it goes exactly where you want. We teach the kill touch, but more that that we teach ‘progressive’ first touches, teaching players to look for space to play the ball into in order to set themselves up for their next movement. The second touch is JUST AS IMPORTANT as the first!
To show exactly what I mean, check out one of my all time favorite goals by Dennis. It’s the quarterfinal of the World Cup in 1998. It’s the last minute and the game is tied 1-1. De Boer gets the ball, makes eye contact with Dennis… Plays a great ball. Dennis brings the ball down with an absolutely world class first touch… Now at this moment, most players in the world are going to take that ball to the right… It’s the correct decision, you’re shielding the ball from the defender, who’s moving at pace and you should be able to get a shot off or at least hold the ball up to wait for a better option… However… This is Dennis Bergkamp. Watch his SECOND touch. This absolutely makes the movement. Anticipating the defenders speed of movement, Dennis cuts the ball back with the inside of his foot immediately after his first touch. The defender fly’s past. Now… Most world class players would use their left foot to power that ball home… But again… This is Dennis Bergkamp. Spotting the left corner of the goal open, he delicately and gently uses the outside of his right foot to curl the ball around the advancing keeper. Absolute genius.