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Do Dribble Up Soccer Drills Help in a Game?

Last week we held our first Soccer Tech Expo where players and teams got the chance to try out various soccer technologies like the Dribble Up smart ball. One fun thing about the event was that we got to answer a lot of questions from parents and players about how we use soccer tech for skill development.

One family stopped by on the way to a tournament match and the dad was asking how the drills in the Dribble Up app would help his son in a game. I asked him what position his son played and he said mostly mid-field. We went through some of the drills and showed him how his kid could use certain moves in a game.

When you’re in the middle of the field you often have to turn with the ball quite a bit so we looked at some of the turns. It can get pretty congested in the middle of the field so you need to have a good first touch to keep the ball close – it also helps to be comfortable using the sole of your foot to navigate in tight spaces.

To help illustrate how players can use what they practice with the Dribble Up ball in a soccer game I pulled in some game footage from recent matches just to give an idea of how the drills can be helpful.

In the video, watch player #12, also playing in the middle of the field.

Left foot Half Spin

In the first clip in the video you can see him use the left foot to spin the ball away from the defender, keeping his body between the ball and his opponent.

The drill in the app gets you ready for this by practicing bouncing on the ball of your right foot and pulling the ball to the side with the sole of your left foot.

Right Foot Roll Tap

After he spins way from his opponent then you see him use the outside of his right foot to create some separation from the defender. He actually makes this touch a little too heavy, looks like he needs to work on this drill more! It gets you a lot of reps pushing that ball with the outside of your foot.

About 10 seconds later #12 gets the ball back and again uses the outside of the right foot to setup a shot on goal. The shot itself isn’t hard enough because his body position isn’t right when he strikes the ball.

The shooting feature of the Dribble Up app will be released in the coming months, looks like #12 could use that once it’s released.

Right Foot Inside Outside

The next clip shows the ball passed backwards from the striker and the #12 uses the inside of the foot to control the pass and then the outside of the foot to setup his next pass.

The next player to receive the ball does a similar thing, only difference is he has to receive the ball across his body. He handles the ball with the inside of his foot, uses the outside of his foot to setup his pass and keeps his head up which allows him to see the next pass.

These fast touches allow the team to quickly move the ball across the width of the field and play it into space into a dangerous scoring position.

One & Two Touch Passes

The next 2 clips don’t point out a specific drill but they do highlight something that’s important to note. If you watch the next 45 seconds of the video you’ll notice that every player only touches the ball once or twice before moving it onto the next person on their team.

Even though it’s called Dribble Up the smart ball can help with other parts of your game. The ball moves a lot faster when it’s being passed rather than dribbled and speed of play is really important to playing at a high level.

Rondos are great for first touch but you won’t practice any of them with Dribble Up. However touches you put in with DribbleUp make you more comfortable on the ball and will eventually make it easier to play those 1 and 2 touch passes.

V Taps

The last clip has a few more foot skills shown by #13. Starting out with a little V pull when he first gets the ball. The V taps drill gets you lots of reps for that move. The player doesn’t use it as a fake as much as to create space between himself and the defender so he can face him up.

Then he uses the outside of his foot to get the defenders moving and then the inside of his foot to explode away from them – again the outside/inside playlist is a good one for this move.


Soccer Drills vs Live Game

Of course working on your technique in a calm and controlled environment is different than when you’re in a game with your adrenaline pumping, wind or rain blowing, and defenders running at you. There’s no training substitute for actually playing the game. However, what training tools like the smart ball or other programs can help you with is getting in reps on those moves so you build up muscle memory. So when that defender is sprinting at you full speed you don’t have to think heavily about the technique of doing an evasive move. Instead your brain tells your feet and off you go and leave the defender in the dust.

Hopefully that helps explain a little bit how the drills in the smart ball app can help a player improve on the field. If this was helpful we can do more drill/game demos in the future.

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Dribble Up Goal Getter

Soccer is the best sport in the world for many reasons. One of the great things things about youth sports in general are all the lessons kids can learn from being part of a team, dealing with failure and success, & setting and chasing goals.

The end game of playing soccer is scoring a goal but there’s a lot for coaches, parents, & players that goes into making that goal happen. If you ask many championship teams about the start of the season it begins with the players and coaches setting team goals to set them up for success. Setting and chasing individual and team goals is a huge part of scoring goals on the field.

That’s why we were so pleased to hear the story behind the Dribble Up ball that we shipped to McKenna’s family not long ago. Turns out that McKenna saw videos of people using the smart ball and decided that she wanted one for herself. She’s 8 years old but plays with girls 2 and 3 years older than her so she really needs good foot skills to compete with the older players.

Well she started saving up and at the start of the Spring season she ordered her very own Dribble Up ball. When we heard about her great goal setting and determination we asked if she’d be willing to share some of her story with us. Here are the questions we sent and the answers they sent back.


What made McKenna decide she wanted the Dribble Up ball and that it was worth saving up for?

She saw a video of how you can practice with an app and get graded on your progress-she was psyched from the start!

Did she have an idea when she started how long it would take to save her money?

No she didn’t, but she was determined to save up for it. She told anyone who would listen that she was saving her money for a “smart” soccer ball!

How did McKenna earn money to save up for the ball?

She saved her gift money and did various chores around the house (ie. Cleaning the yard, taking out the trash/recycles, even making her brother’s bed!)

Did she ever consider calling it off, that it was too big a challenge to save up? Did she have any setbacks?

She never had any setbacks, and never considered giving up. She did get frustrated at times with how long it took, but never gave up!

What kept her motivated to keep saving?

She would watch another video of people using it, or come back from soccer practice and she was motivated again.

Does McKenna set goals in soccer as well? 

Yes, she sets goals such as number of goals per game, assists, etc. one game she wanted to score 3 goals and she scored 5! She wants to improve her juggling. She hasn’t gotten the hang of it yet and it frustrates her:-(

What would she say to friends or teammates that might say some goals are too big for 8 year olds to achieve?

That it’s ridiculous! Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t do what others can.

Who in her life has inspired her to set goals?

My parents and coaches. Julie Ertz and Mallory Pugh from the USA Women’s Soccer Team.

What is she most excited about using the Dribble Up ball for?

To learn juggling and improve her footwork.

Do her coach and teammates know she’s been saving? Are they excited to try it out as well?

Yes and yes!

Does she think her ability to set and stick with goals will help her and her team on the soccer field?

Yes, by practicing her footwork!


I think it’s great that McKenna saved up for the ball for a lot of reasons.  How many times does a kid run out of practice and forget their ball or leave their soccer ball at a game. What are the odds are that McKenna’s going to leave her Dribble Up ball behind? Pretty slim I’d say.

Not only that but when you invest your time and energy into something you’re more likely to make use of it.

It’s also cool for anyone to be so passionate about something that they sacrifice in order to achieve it. Even cooler when you see that level of determination and drive in an 8 year old.

Good luck to McKenna in the rest of her season!