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Teaching The Basic Chop

Ages: 8+; Equipment: Cones, balls; Players: 4+


Start with some basic ball-control movements, such as rolls, vees, toe-taps. Introduce tic-toc, if you have not already . Do your stretches, interspersed with assorted ball control moves which you want topractice.

Individual Work

The basic chop is a rapid downward cut across the forward face of the ball as the ball is going forward, in order to stop the ball quickly. It is an effective way to quickly reverse direction while your opponent is already moving at speed in the original direction.

The basic mechanics of a chop (which is a sharp inside of the foot cut angled across the front face of the ball) can be illustrated while standing still. However, as quickly as possible, get the players moving so that they can learn the body mechanics necessary for the change of direction.

The key coaching points of the chop are:

  1. As you prepare to do a chop, the body is going to be turned almost perpendicular to the direction of the ball, with the knee of the plant foot sharply bent inward and the weight transferred almost entirely to the plant leg. To achieve the rapid change in direction, it is helpful to do a quick hop as you come down on the plant foot, which allows the plant foot/body to turn more easily.

  2. Reach around the outside front of the ball with the chopping foot, with the foot/ankle turned inward (heel is towards the outside), and the knee/hip slightly bent inward.

  3. Bring the chop foot down sharply, so that the laces skim across the front surface of the ball. The stance at the moment of the chop is almost knock-kneed.

  4. As quickly as possible after contact is made with the ball, drag it back across the body towards the plant foot. With significant forward momentum, it may be necessary to briefly put weight on the chopping foot in order to reverse direction. At lesser speeds, weight can remain on the plant foot as the turn is made.

Work on dribbling the ball in one direction, and then chopping it back in the other. Begin by working with the dominant foot as the chopping foot, then progress to using the non-dominant foot. Encourage the kids to use an exaggerated hip swivel as they execute the chop, so that they appear to be heading in one direction and then quickly hop/chop to bring the ball in the other direction.

For Coerver devotees, you can create a ballet-type session where you tap the ball slightly ahead of you; chop quickly back; let the ball roll back in the other direction, while you do a cross-over step to reverse direction,then chop back, and repeat. Sounds weird, but fairly effective. Watch a Coerver video like Soccer FUNdamentals to get the idea.

Small Group Work

If you have somewhat older players (or already have used the Coerver setup with two defenders and two attackers in a square), use this approach. With younger players, or if you are unfamiliar with the Coerver-square, then:

Set up 3 cones in a row, about 7-8 feet apart. Stack your rows so that you can turn into grids later. Put a player on each of the end cones, each with a ball. Have them dribble towards the central cone, chop back, dribble back towards their end cone, and then chop back. This will allow them to simulate using a chop against an opponent, without actually having to deal with a true opponent at this stage. Have an extra player. No big deal. Just add an extra cone at one end, and have him delay his run so that he is chopping at about the same time as the other player is returning to the end cone.

Progression: Combine adjacent rows and remove middle cone. Leave three players with balls (each on a corner of the square) and turn the fourth into an anchored defender in the center of the square. Have players dribble towards central defender, and then cut back towards their "home" cone. Tell defender to keep one foot anchored, but to lunge/dive at players as they come towards him, and try to knock their balls away.

Alternate activity: Create 2-3 slalom courses of staggered cones; divide team into competing groups; and have a race to see which team can complete the slalom course the fastest by doing cuts at each of the cones. Allow a practice run before holding the race.

Large Group Activity

Play Freeze Tag in a large grid, using 2-3 defenders. Start the defenders at walking speed. Require players to get away from defenders ONLY by using a chop. Progress to allowing defenders to go at 1/2 speed, and then at full speed. Switch out defenders after they have managed to freeze 5 players. Any frozen player can be unfrozen by having his hand tapped by an unfrozen player.


Play 2v2 or 3v3 to maximize the number of ball touches. If you have a ball hog, restrict touches to 5-7 before passing to avoid an automatic turnover to the other side. Praise any attempts to use chops in the game.

Updated 3 April 1999
Overview | Principles | Resources | Guidelines | Practices | Game Day | Very Young | More Reading