Anyone who’s familiar with soccer balls will know that they come in multiple sizes, including mini soccer balls. However, what is the point of mini soccer balls? Are they nothing but glorified souvenirs, or something else entirely?
Mini soccer balls can be used to improve multiple soccer skills during practice, including foot control for all types of soccer positions and hand-eye coordination for goalies.
In this article, we’ll cover various drills—and other soccer equipment—athletes can use with mini soccer balls to ensure that they can develop these game-changing skills and improve their overall performance on the field.
Soccer Skills Mini Soccer Balls Help Improve
As mentioned above, a couple of key soccer skills can be improved by practicing with mini soccer balls, mainly foot control and hand-eye coordination.
Foot Control and Coordination
A good soccer player should have sufficient foot control and coordination to strategically pass the ball to their teammates or score the winning goal. Mini soccer balls will help you get used to kicking a smaller target, eventually making it easier for you to control a traditional soccer ball as well.
A few drills you can perform with mini soccer balls to improve your foot control and coordination are:
- Kicking the mini soccer ball between your feet: This drill is fairly self-explanatory, but some call it “bells” or “foundation”. The ball moves quickly back and forth using the insides of your feet. When you force yourself to improve your precision with a smaller ball, it’ll make a regular game ball huge by comparison, thus improving your precision with that ball as well. This drill can even be done with a tennis ball if you want!
- Juggling the ball between your feet: This is a more advanced version of merely kicking the ball between your feet. To juggle, use a specific routine while keeping the ball in the air – such as using the left foot only, the right thigh, right foot only, and so on! Keep practicing the same juggling routine until you perfect it, then do another.
- Passing the ball to another player: One of the best ways to practice your foot control and coordination with a mini soccer ball is to have a teammate do it with you. Not only will you enjoy the camaraderie, but it will also help both of you improve your foot coordination while passing the ball between one another. You will be sharpening your striking skills as well as your receiving.
- Kicking the ball between miniature cones: Not only will kicking a ball between cones improve your agility, but it will also improve your control of the soccer ball in traffic! Practice cones are easy to find – check out these Pro Disc Cones.
When you use a mini soccer ball to practice goalkeeping, you are forced to look after a ball that is harder to see and catch, making hand-eye coordination easier when you use a larger ball. Mini soccer balls can be especially beneficial for goalies.
A few useful drills you can do to improve your hand-eye coordination while goalkeeping and using mini soccer balls are:
- Tracking the mini soccer ball: To improve your hand-eye coordination, you need to be able to track where the ball is heading! Have a couple of fellow players kick the mini soccer ball between each other before attempting to score a goal, forcing you to keep an eye on it.
- Rapidly firing mini soccer balls into the goal: This is a fast drill that’ll force you to pay attention to multiple mini soccer balls. As a result, you can improve your reactions between the goal posts. To do this, have several fellow players kick their mini soccer balls towards your goal in rapid succession. Try to keep up!
- Trying to stop a mini soccer ball out of many: This is a variation of the above “rapid-fire” drill. To do this, you should have at least six mini soccer balls, one of which should be a different color. Have your teammates rapidly kick the balls towards your goal while you try and catch the different-colored one. This adds an element of extra focus to the training.
- Rapidly diving for a mini soccer ball: This will help you with those nearly impossible goals that are kicked below your hands. To do this, have a fellow player throw the ball in an underhand position for you to dive and catch. Throw the ball back to your teammate, then repeat several times.
Mini Soccer Ball and Soccer Equipment Pairings for Training
There are many pieces of equipment you can use in conjunction with mini soccer balls to train! Here are some of the most common ones you can use:
For those who are practicing with a mini soccer ball on their own, rebounder nets are an incredibly useful tool. A rebounder net will immediately kick any mini soccer ball that hits it right back to you, allowing you to practice your passes, foot control, first touch and more!
There are plenty of rebounder nets available for players of all ages and skill levels, such as the Franklin Sports Adjustable Soccer Rebounder. Just be sure you are buying one with tight netting, so a mini soccer ball won’t pass right through it! Also, be sure that the rebound net is specifically for soccer, as different types of rebound nets are used in other sports, too.
Much like a rebounder net, kick mannequins allow you to practice kicking a mini soccer ball for solo practice. This is useful if you want to improve your shots and passing, but you do not have any fellow teammates around to help you. Kick mannequins can be used either as obstacles to avoid or targets to hit.
Many kick mannequins, such as the Crown Sporting Goods Adjustable-Size Soccer Training Penalty Dummy, are adjustable to accommodate players of all sizes. Just be sure you are getting a kick mannequin specifically made for soccer, as the term is used for different products for other sports and look vastly different from the standard soccer equipment.
Obstacle / Agility Poles
The more visible, yet tougher, variant of the practice cones mentioned earlier, obstacle poles will force you to kick or dribble your miniature soccer ball in a way that will improve your foot coordination and passing skills. These are a good alternative if you worry that simple cones won’t be sufficient for your training.
They are also easy to find online, such as these Bluedot Trading Soccer Agility Training Poles that come in multiple sizes. Just attach them to any grassy terrain and kick or dribble your mini soccer ball around them, making sure to not bump into any of them.
Soccer Target Nets
For those who want to use mini soccer balls to improve your goal scoring, soccer target nets are for you. These are portable nets you can attach to any goal to help you practice your precision shooting. They only have openings on certain parts of the net, forcing you to train your shooting accuracy.
Unfortunately, several soccer target nets are on the pricier side, but the AKOZLIN Soccer Field Nets Target Sheets is well rated and an affordable option.
Mini soccer balls are used during practice to help athletes of all positions on a soccer team improve their foot control while on the field. They are also used by goalies to sharpen their hand-eye coordination. Due to their smaller size, players can learn to be more precise with how they kick, pass, aim, and catch the ball, making it much easier to do with a regulation size soccer ball in actual matches.