Now that you know all the great moves, you probably want to know some strategy. When are you supposed to dribble instead of passing or shooting? There are a few smart guidelines.
First of all, if you're all by yourself and no one is challenging you, go ahead and dribble. Take as much of the field as the defenders will give you. It's hard to imagine that any team would let you take the ball from one end of the field to the other, but until they send someone in to stop you, give it a try. However, just because you see a defender approaching doesn't mean that you should immediately pass the ball. Wait until he actually commits to challenging you. Otherwise you'll make it easy for him to intercept your pass.
When they do approach you, however, it's time to rethink. You could try to use a fake to get by a defender, but that doesn't have a high success ratio. If there's an open player nearby, you can send the ball to her. She can then pass it back to you for the easy give-and-go pass that you learned about in Chapter 3. This is a much better, almost foolproof, option than trying to dribble around the defender.
You also don't want to be dribbling when you're defending in front of your own goal. That's a really dangerous area to be fooling around in. Instead, get the ball out of there! Use a series of short passes or one long kick, but clear it out of the goal area. Don't rely on any fancy footwork because if you get burned, then you're risking a goal.
The Seal Dribble
One very unusual method of dribbling is called the seal dribble. This entails moving the ball down the field by bouncing it off your head. Obviously this is a very advanced skill, but it's a real problem for defenders because they have a hard time interfering with the player in a legal way. They can't go after the ball because it's up at head level, and they can't go after the body, without being called for a foul.
You might think that if you're in front of the other team's goal, the advice would be just the opposite, but that's not the case. You don't want to dribble there, either. This time, though, forget passing. Shoot! Dribble if you need to get clear to take a shot, but if you're inside that box, boot the ball into the goal.
So, to put it simply:
Goal areas = No dribbling
Finally, you don't want to dribble if there's someone else wide open and closer to the goal. Even if you're a fast runner, you're not going to be faster than a good hard pass. So send the ball down the field to your teammate and race to support her. The key to remember in this situation is that your teammate has to be “wide open.” Just because your teammate is closer to the goal doesn't mean that she's able to receive a pass. This is especially true if no one is guarding you. Think about it. If no one is on you, the other team has ten of their players guarding the other nine players on your team. You might just want to keep the ball and start tap, tap, tapping your way toward the goal.