Foot control is an aspect of the skill known as close control. Whereas close control can involve any part of the body such as the head, chest and leg (although it usually refers to the foot), foot control, as the name suggests, retains a focus solely upon the foot. During a match, there will be times when you will need to use four main areas of the foot: the top, bottom, inside and outside.
The inside of the foot
This is the safest area of the foot to use when receiving the ball from a pass. It is an important skill to perfect as it allows the ball to be received on the move, in one fluid motion, without the player needing to stop. This subsequently allows the player to move away from defenders and create space. There is one key aspect to remember when controlling the ball, with any part of the foot: always use a soft touch and withdraw or relax the foot upon impact with the football.
The bottom of the foot
Whilst the inside of the foot is the most commonly used part of the foot when receiving a pass, the sole can be used as well. To control the ball using the bottom of the foot, the ball must be stopped dead. This is a useful skill to master for several match situations. Goalkeepers may use this technique prior to taking a goal kick or making a controlled long pass to the midfield.
In an attacking situation, the ball may need to be stopped dead if it is in danger of running out of the field of play. Furthermore, trapping the ball with the sole of the foot – and indeed rolling it forward gently with the same area of the foot to tease and trick the defender – can be useful when in the attacking third of the pitch, especially on the wings.
The top of the foot
Using the top of the foot is a trickier skill than using the inside or sole. However, there may be no other alternative in certain situations. For example, if the attacking player is running forward and the ball is played over their head, they may have to stretch the foot out to retrieve the pass, using the top of their foot to bring it under control.
The outside of the foot
This part of the foot should be employed less often than other areas in a match. It can, however, be useful in certain situations, such as to divert the ball away quickly from an incoming defender.