Sancho did. And this is down to his football experience.
In response to this situation – while surrounded by defenders – Sancho moved the ball and worked his body to disguise his intentions. Sancho is exceptionally confident in using multiple parts of his foot to shift the ball.
Ultimately, Sancho succeeded in this situation thanks to many years of practice. To help your team gain this experience, give them as many opportunities as possible to test their skills. Remember that dribbling, and staying on the ball, go hand in hand. We need to support players to develop in both these areas.
At times, moving with the ball can feel a bit risky. This means you may see it more in attacking areas – where there's less at stake if you lose possession.
As a coach, your role is to help players feel comfortable dribbling in any area of the pitch. To do this, your team must have the opportunity to test their skills in both opposed and unopposed game-based experiences. This will help them gain 'football memory' and become creative, confident players.
When coaching your team to dribble, here are some key considerations.
- Before you get players moving with the ball, help them to master their body.
- Make staying on the ball your primary focus.
- Create sessions that give players realistic opportunities to practise.
Remember that players face a slightly different situation every time they move with the ball. To get used to this, your team must explore the weight of their touches, what part of the foot to use, changing direction and how to beat defenders – all while staying on the ball. This is especially true if you work with younger players.
As coaches, we're probably all guilty of yelling the odd "pass!" from the sidelines (especially on matchdays). But that's rarely helpful for team development. Instead, let's try to encourage more dribbling – and provide players with the support they need to do it.