At its core, soccer is a simple game. Two teams of 11 players compete to score as many goals as possible. A player must be able to run, kick, header, and tackle. Easy, right? Although the concept is straightforward, the skillset and move repertoire of a player is vast. At a more advanced level, soccer is a little more complicated.
“Advanced soccer skill moves” is an umbrella term that incorporates a lot. There are many niches in the game of soccer. For the purpose of this article, we have broken down a list of advanced moves into 3 core categories:
- Individual Skill Moves
- Striking Technique
- Team Moves
There are high-level aspects to defending in soccer but these are generally positional and tactically based. Most defensive “moves” are rudimentary in nature. Therefore, we have mainly concentrated on offense.
Whether you’re a player or a fan, please enjoy this read through on advanced soccer moves.
- Individual Skill Moves
- The Step-over
- Cruyff Turn
- Ronaldo Chop
- The Pull-Back “V”
- Marseille Turn – Maradona/Zidane Roulette – The 360 – The Spin
- McGeady Spin
- Rainbow Flick
- Striking Skill Technique
- Team Skill Moves
Individual Skill Moves
Beating a player 1-on-1 is one of the most difficult scenarios in a game. Pace and strength can be enough to get you past an opposition player some of the time, but more often than not, it will take a little bit more than that. Individual skill moves to beat a defender are crucial for all players in the modern era.
Not everyone is expected to be able to pull off pieces of magic like Messi, Ronaldo, or Neymar, but all players should have a certain amount of advanced moves in their locker.
There are hundreds of skill moves used to take on opposition players and hundreds of more variations of these. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective, impressive, and famous skill moves in soccer.
The step-over is something that we see in every game. It is a demonstration of quick feet where a player feints a change of direction by throwing his/her foot over the ball, then quickly shifts the ball in the opposite direction and accelerates away from the defender.
There are different ways to execute a step-over, with the inside step-over and outside step-over being the most common. Players often step-over the ball multiple times. Most players have executed at least one step-over in their career, however, few have performed the move with as much grace as Robinho.
For any players out there looking to improve their step-over game, check out a few nice variations in this video below:
Johan Cruyff has left a big legacy in the world of soccer. His philosophy and stylistic influence have made sizable impressions on the beautiful game. The turn is an effective move first pulled off by Cruyff in the 1974 World Cup. With his back to goal, Cruyff faked a pass back downfield by drawing back his right foot. Instead of kicking the ball, he pulled the ball back behind his standing left leg, changing direction 180 degrees and speeding away from the defender.
Simple in design, this move is more difficult to pull off than you might think. A player must adequately shield the ball, sell the pass to the defender, and pull the ball back without clipping it off the standing leg.
The Ronaldo chop is a hybrid of a few different soccer moves, including the Cruyff turn. It’s performed on the run and involves a fake, a flick, and a change of direction. Like the Cruyff turn, the player fakes a shot, pass or cross, then uses their outside leg to flick the ball behind their standing leg.
Ronaldo often uses the chop to cut inside and create space for a shot. Cristiano has performed this move to great effect since the early years of his career, so much so that it has been named after him. Many players use this move but none have had the success or recognition that Cristiano has had with it.
The Pull-Back “V”
A key move for any central midfield player, and a useful one for players in all other positions, the pull-back V helps you create space in a tight situation. The success of the pull-back V comes down to the space that one can create with their body. With the ball in front (you can initially fake a pass but it is not essential), a player uses the sole of the foot to roll the ball backward, keeping the defender at a distance.
Then he/she takes his/her foot from the top of the ball and uses their instep to kick the ball out in front of them, away from the defender. A quick change of pace and they’re gone. It is essential to create enough space in the rollback. Here is an excellent walkthrough and demonstration of the V pull back, and its effectiveness.
Marseille Turn – Maradona/Zidane Roulette – The 360 – The Spin
The Marseille turn has many names and a few variations. This is an advanced skill move that is quite difficult to pull off, but when it works, it’s a thing of beauty. It involves 2 drag backs, using both feet, while continuously shielding the ball. The first drag back takes the ball away from the defender. The second is performed by the other foot, while pirouetting, to take the ball around the defender.
During the spin, the player’s back faces the defender to keep the ball safe. It is difficult to execute this trick as it requires quick feet, close control, the use of your weak foot, and exceptional balance. We often see players leaving the ball behind them while they attempt it. However, if used correctly, it’s very difficult to stop. Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane performed the Marseille turn regularly to great effect.
This move is named after a lesser-known player – Aiden McGeady (Rep. of Ireland). The McGeady spin is similar to the Marseille roulette but it ends with the player going in a different direction. Instead of a second drag, the player uses the outside of their foot to flick the ball. It is a difficult trick to time but when executed well, it’s a real bamboozler!
The Elastico or Flip Flap is a dynamic skill move that requires a huge amount of practice to master. Made famous by Brazillian, Rivellino, in the 1970 World Cup, this move always draws “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. The Elastico can be performed while dribbling or from a standstill.
The attacking player feints a move toward the outside of their dominant foot. They push the ball with the outside of their foot, then quickly wrap their foot around the ball to the other side and completely change the direction that the ball is going. This ‘flip-flap’ motion must be done very quickly or the player will lose control of the ball.
The “Hocus Pocus” is a variation of the Elastico. The ‘flip-flap’ motion of the foot goes from inside-to-outside and the positioning and direction of the feet are different. The player places one foot in front of the ball. With their back-foot, they slide the ball toward the outside of their standing leg and perform an inside to outside flip-flap. If if a standard Elastico doesn’t provide enough entertainment to your audience, try a Hocus Pocus!
If you really want to embarrass your opponent, there is nothing quite like a rainbow flick. Make sure that you pull it off though – otherwise you’ll be the one that the crowd is taunting! Generally, this move isn’t very practical. However, Neymar and Jay-Jay Okocha have shown its usefulness in the past.
To perform a rainbow flick, you must roll the ball up your standing leg, then flick your heel upward, kicking the ball high over your head, and hopefully your opponent’s.
Striking Skill Technique
There are many ways to strike a soccer ball. Depending on what a player is hoping to do, how the ball is moving toward them, what way they are facing, or what the circumstances are, they may strike the ball in a different way. Here are some advanced techniques for striking a soccer ball.
Outside the boot (Trivela)
The technique of curling the ball with the outside of the foot is known as Trivela. It’s a fantastic method for generating curl on a shot or pass. When hit correctly, a Trivela can also be a very powerful way of striking a ball. The outside of the foot is the main area that connects with the ball.
The foot slides from the back toward the front of the ball to create spin. The player’s foot touches a lot more of the ball than a normal shooting technique. The standing foot is further from the base of the ball than usual, to give the striking leg room to swing.
The follow-through is extremely important for both power and curl. Shooting wise, Ricardo Quaresma and the Trivela go hand in hand. He has a number of amazing Trivela goals. Check some of them out here:
Luca Modric is one of the greatest proponents of the Trivela for passing. Modric uses the technique frequently to play passes through defensive lines. Here are some beautiful examples of this:
It can be used in shooting and passing. Similar to a golf technique, to chip a ball, a player will use their foot as a wedge to strike underneath the ball. Excessive power is not needed. Precision placement of the foot to send the ball in an upward direction is the most important factor.
This technique is very useful for long-range passing, or for shooting when a goalkeeper comes rushing out. Messi is a master at the chip technique (surprise, surprise!), particularly when shooting.
AllAttack has nice breakdown of how to perform the technique:
Let’s take a look at some of the best chip passes and goals over the years:
Overhead Kick / Bicycle Kick
This spectacular technique has provided us with some of the greatest goals in history. We have been blessed with some outrageous bicycle kicks in recent years. Many of these goals have come in high profile games, going to show that although flashy, an overhead kick is an advanced technique that’s useful to have in matches.
Perhaps the best of all was Gareth Bale’s goal in the Uefa Champions League Final in 2018. Considering the difficulty of the technique, his position in relation to the ball, and the occasion, one can only marvel at the strike. The technique requires a great deal of athleticism, timing, and perfect execution to get right. There is very little luck involved when we see an overhead kick fly into the back of the net.
A bicycle kick is performed by a player propelling themselves into the air in a backward direction. Making a cycle motion with their feet, the player generates enough momentum to be able to strike the ball. Goal.com makes a good step-by-step guide on how to perform a bicycle kick.
A variation of the bicycle kick is the scissors kick. It is essentially the same technique but the player strikes the ball while sideways, as opposed to overhead.
The back-heel is a crafty move that is most effective when used deceptively. The key to a good back-heel is usually the vision of the player in possession. They draw the attention of the defense as if they are going one way, then they use the heel of their foot to kick the ball backward or to the side.
The expression, “having eyes on the back of your head” comes to mind. The technique itself is not overly difficult but it is easy to mess up. As the player striking the ball is usually looking in a different direction, the timing of the back-heel is hard to get right.
One of the most audacious ways to strike a ball in soccer. Its use in practical terms is limited (but not useless). It’s generally used by players who are one foot dominant and are hesitant to use their weaker foot. It is a very flashy technique that will always get a cheer from the crowd. To perform a Rabona, a player will kick the ball in such a way that the kicking leg wraps around the back of the standing leg. At the point of contact with the ball, the player’s legs are crossed.
A Rabona fake is perhaps more common than Rabonas themselves. It is performed in the same way as a Rabona but instead of striking the ball, the player will plant their foot next to it and step over it using their standing leg.
A knuckleball is a striking technique where a ball is struck with a lot of power but with a very little amount spin. Due to the force of the strike, the shape of the ball, and the air that the ball has to travel through, the ball moves very strangely and erratically.
The science behind this striking technique is very complicated. Physorg completed a study on the success behind the knuckleball in soccer. Check out their article for more detail (warning: it’s very hard to understand!).
A well-struck knuckleball is a nightmare for any goalkeeper and, at a glance, often makes them look silly. However, if we look closely at the trajectory of the ball, the movement is unpredictable and the ball can change direction in a split second. The knuckleball technique is extremely difficult to execute well but if you manage to strike them consistently, you are guaranteed to score a lot of free-kicks.
Team Skill Moves
Elaborate Free-kick Routines
Every now and again, a team may attempt an elaborate free-kick routine. This is something that has to be drilled to a tee and used in specific circumstances. If all players are not in-tune or if the play is executed sloppily, it is ruined. Teams will come to expect it and the play won’t have a chance to work. There are many forms of free-kick routines. Here are a few:
It’s unclear if trick free-kicks are born from training ground antics or moments of genius from coaches. Some trick plays can involve players faking to argue or mess up a routine, only for the intended shooter to arrive out of nowhere and take advantage of an unexpecting defense and goalkeeper.
Another trick play is where 2 players stand over a free-kick. One player steps back to line up the shot while the other lines up to lay the ball off. Just before the shooter begins his/her run-up, the lay-off player takes the shot quickly, hoping to catch the goalkeeper unawares.
Dummy runs are used a lot in soccer. Several players line up to take the free-kick. The players know who the actual taker will be but all run toward the ball as if each will take the shot. This makes it difficult for goalkeepers and defenders in the wall to anticipate. Dummy runs can also go wrong if there is poor communication between players. Sometimes players will accidentally kick the ball as they run past it.
Lay-offs are a great way of changing the angle and opening up the goal for a striker. The free-kick taker passes the ball sideways as the striker runs on to the ball. This makes it easier to beat the defensive wall and a moving ball often allows for more power on the strike.
Disguised passes are a lot like trick plays, as they involve extensive practice, pin-point execution, and are aimed at fooling the defensive team. Attacking players stand in specific formations and have timed runs to make. There are countless options for this type of routine.
Ultimately, the free-kick taker pretends to shoot but at the moment of contact, they pass the ball to a teammate. This initiates the play and from there the attackers may shoot or make a series of pre-planned passes to create a goalscoring opportunity.
The video below shows several examples of each of these tactics.
Elaborate Corner Routines
Much like with free-kicks, players can also use the element of surprise to catch out defenders in corner kick situations.
False touch corner
This is a very sneaky move that can lead to goalscoring opportunities. The corner taker will, ever so slightly, touch the ball and then signal to a teammate to come and take the corner. The opposition may not realize that the corner has been taken and the ball is now live. This allows for the ‘new taker’ to dribble the ball goalward to an unexpecting defense.
The Champions League Semi-Final between Liverpool and Barcelona in 2019 provided us with a moment of genius from Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold. If you haven’t seen it already, check out the trick corner below.
Chip to the edge of the box
Most corners are aimed towards the penalty box where attackers line up to get on the end of the cross. Although this requires good technique and a well-struck cross, it doesn’t necessarily mean pin-point accuracy.
If a team contains players that are very proficient and accurate strikers of the ball, they may attempt to chip a corner to the edge of the box for a player to run on to and shoot. It may be difficult to execute but this move shakes things up and can provide absolute screamers.
Advanced defensive ‘moves’ per se, usually have more to do with positioning and decision making than a particular skill. A tackle, block or header (common defensive moves) would not be regarded as advanced. There is a more physical and tactical nuance to defending. Therefore, this is the only defensive move referenced as part of this article.
An offside trap is a risky yet useful tactic. It is imperative that the defensive line is in perfect sync for this to work. Just before the opposition plays the ball behind a team’s defense, the defensive line run ahead of the opposing striker to play him/her offside. The risk factor is huge. If the defense gets this wrong, the opposition will more than likely have a clear goal-scoring opportunity. The reward is, that if this tactic is effective, the opposition will be caught offside. In the VAR era, this type of move is becoming less common.
Practice makes perfect
As with all things, practicing these moves will help a player or team to execute in-game. Although a group of players might be necessary for set-pieces and specific team-moves, individual skill and striking techniques can be practiced by the individual.
In the digital age, there are online tutorials for almost every skill move and a striking technique known to man. With this in mind, it’s exciting to think about the future generations of soccer players. The technical skill level of modern players is at an all-time high. Are we about to see the bar be raised even higher in the coming years? This writer certainly believes so.
How do you do skill moves in soccer? Train with the ball at your feet to improve your dexterity and practice the moves from 10 to 100 times.
How do you get around a defender in soccer? Make the defender think you are going one way but you go another, with a trick or dummy.
How do you stop a trick in soccer? Most soccer moves can be stopped by standing two yards away from your opponent.