Every world-class dribbler has the ability to develop his own moves and well known signature. You can’t be a true world-class athlete if you’re stuck with the “next Messi” or “next Ronaldo” to your name. Having your own game and your own moves is vital to becoming a respected player in the field. But I personally think you can put talented dribblers into three main categories:
Speedster – C. Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott
Just like the names points out, speedster is a player who uses his speed to pass by defenders. It is not all about the speed, players like Ronaldo use tricks to get by defenders as well. Starting from simple tricks like the fake shot and the Rabona, to the more complicated Elastico and the Roulette, doing tricks to pass by defenders is the plan B to fast players. If the full backs are fast as well, it is time for plan B and some tricks.
Aggressive Dribbler – L. Messi, Eden Hazard, Di Maria
The speedsters and the aggressive dribblers have one thing in common: they both make the first move and go straight to the defender for a duel. The ability to take multiply defenders at once is the number one trait to the aggressive dribbler.
All three players mentioned above are able to take on two, three and sometimes even the whole defence on their own. Fast players like Gareth Bale could beat multiply defenders as well, but only playing wide and using their speed as advantage. They can’t operate directly through the middle facing multiply defenders at the same time.
The Visioneer – Andrés Iniesta, David Silva, Luka Modrić
You can’t see Iniesta doing Step-Overs, or aggressively running toward defenders. But you also can’t see Iniesta being surrounded by only one opposite player. Numbers of three, four and sometimes even five players are trying to tackle the Magician at the same time. The same goes for Modric and Silva as well.
These kinds of players always keep the ball close to their feet, and constantly moving with it. They always try to find free space to move or simply make that killer pass that can change a game.
As a true fan of Iniesta and his magic moves, I have managed to sort out his super effective dribbling into three key abilities that he poses:
You can’t make that killer pass or avoid two tackles with one move if you don’t have the ball control. Players like Iniesta feel the ball as a part of their body. We have seen some first touch passes (for both Barcelona and Spain) that we thought are only possible on a video game. He makes the game look so easy, and his incredible ball control is a vital part of his success.
Having vision as a football player means that you have the ability to read the game. Now when someone says “ability to read the game”, many people think of a player that can lose his marker and receive a pass. That’s only part of reading the game. Players with football vision can read opponent moves and plan their moves before they make them.
Iniesta: “If you think before your opponent where the ball is going to go then you have an advantage. If you stay with the ball at your feet and think about what to do, you are going to lose the ball.”
“The best players are the quickest thinkers.”
“Where is my team-mate going to run to? Will he stay onside? Which one has space? Which one is looking for the ball? How do they like the ball – to their feet or in front?”
“You can be the best passer in the world, but without your team-mates being in the right position, it’s no good.”
Patience is the competence that goes in pack with both vision and ball control. You can’t find that hole in your opponent defence, if you’re not patience enough. You can’t get surrounded by five players, and always make the perfect move without patience.