A simple and great exercise is to dribble in a small square and have an opponent try to take the ball from you. Use your body to shield the ball from the defender. Always keep your body between you and the defender. Tell your friend or the person who is acting as the defender to fight for the ball with a game like intensity, pushing you and playing so hard they are almost fouling you. Add more players as you get more confident holding on to the ball and holding off the defender. If the defender wins the ball you switch roles.

This game can eventually build into a possession game that focuses on shielding. Call out to stop play now and again and which ever team doesn't have the ball has to do push-ups or a few sprints as punishment.

When shielding the ball, and there's space, carry the ball into the open space - all the while shielding the ball from the defender. Carry the ball with the inside of your foot, this is the where you will get the most control, kind of dragging the ball along as the defender pushes against you. Make sure to bend your knees and have a strong sense about you that this person is not going to get the ball from you no matter what. Then, try to work on cutting the ball back and forth. Carry the ball with the inside of your foot for a few yards and then cut back with the outside of your foot and shield the ball with the outside of your foot. As you get better, practice shielding the ball using all parts of both feet.

Try shielding the ball for a few yards with the inside of your right foot and playing it to your left and carrying it in the other direction. Next, use the sole of your foot to turn or switch directions. Try to use all the different surfaces of your foot without letting the defender get a touch on the ball. Chop and cut the ball back with the inside and outside of both feet. Keep the defense honest by turning and taking the defender on from time to time.

Copyright 2011