Soccer drill to coach the step across

With this soccer drill you are coaching one of the most basic but useful soccer moves. The player simply steps over the ball to put either one or both legs between the ball and an incoming opponent.
What you want to achieve

Coach your players to end up facing the direction where there is the best chance of finding supporting players.

Facing the touchline is a very defensive move and generally means your player will end up playing the ball into touch unless that player is skillful enough to kick the ball off of the opponent’s legs to win your team a throw-in.

Remember, the position your player will end up facing will depend on which foot that player is most confident with.

Step-across warm up drills

Put the players in pairs so their arms are linked and they are leaning against one another, and have them try to roll the ball around with their outside foot. Have pairs switch sides, so that they are using their right and then left foot. Organise a “sack-race” kind of activity, where the pairs try to walk/hop from one line to another, while controlling the ball with the outside foot. Have one race going forward, one going backward, and two going sideways (l to r and r to l).

How the step-across works in action

  • Once your players are comfortable with the basic step-across, the player needs to know how to use it. Experiment with it in training to give players the confidence to use it in matches.

  • Put two players at opposite ends of a small grid. One player passes to the other player, then walks towards the receiver to start shutting him down. Get a small player to shield from a bigger player.
  • The receiver steps across the ball to put himself between the opponent and the ball – and end up with his back foot (the foot farthest from the opponent) resting on top of the ball. Once they have this basic idea then it's time to make actual contact with the opponent.
  • Show your players how their shoulder makes contact with the opponent (get the shielding player to bump into their opponent), transfering weight to their front foot so that their back foot is free to pass/control ball. Return to the grid and allow players to practise making the shoulder-to-shoulder contact. Your players need to hold the opponent on one shoulder get their heads up, look for, and pass to, a team-mate.

image shows the correct positioning of the feet for step over skill

Three tips for shielding

  • Players must keep the shoulder pointed at the defender at all times.

  • You want your player in control of the situation. If a defender is coming in hard, the ball must be moved quickly to give time to hold opponents off.

  • Tell your kids not to use hands to push an opponent away. Use arms, shoulders, body and legs to keep an opponent from getting the ball.

Click here for the next move to coach once your players have mastered the step across.