How to Nutmeg Someone in Soccer

Ah the nutmeg! - (Clubs.calvin.edu)

The nutmeg can be one of the most pleasing ways to beat an opposing defender and is equally embarrassing to the player who is nutmegged.  It involves kicking the ball through a defender’s legs and running around them to retrieve the ball while they struggle to turn around.  With their back to the ball after suffering a nutmeg, there is little hope of a defensive recovery and the offensive player is likely to either draw a foul or take the ball on to the next challenge.  Here are some tips to help a young soccer player know when to attempt a nutmeg and how to successfully convert one as well:

When taking on a defender, don’t desperately seek out the opportunity to perform a nutmeg, but do keep the thought in the back of your mind.  Pay attention to the legs of your opponent.  When he or she is standing with their legs apart, and you feel that you could slip the ball right in between them, go for it.  Defenders are often taught to keep their legs close together for this very reason, but often a player is either tired or trying to maintain a big presence and this detail is forgotten.

A key ingredient to a successful nutmeg is quickness.  The moment those legs open up, the quicker you want to take advantage. The window of opportunity is often just half a second so any hesitation may result in the ball bouncing off of the defender’s feet.

Also, you need to be quick in starting your run, often timing it to coincide with the nutmeg itself.  This way, when the ball passes through their legs, you will already be halfway around the defender before they even realize that the nutmeg has take place.  If you wait to start your run, you will give your opponent more time to recover or drag you down in frustration.  Although drawing a foul can help your team, it also limits you ability to make an impact and will give the defense time to regroup.

Another important thing to remember with nutmegs is that they must be performed in moderation.  Although it is probably the most satisfying move for offensive players, chances are you’ll only be able to complete the feat once in any particular game.  Defenders will be embarrassed to have suffered a nutmeg, and they won’t be likely to give you another chance throughout the rest of a game.

Although this does limit the use of nutmegs, it will open up the rest of your bag of tricks. When a defender is worried and focused about preventing another nutmeg, a completely different move like a scissors or Cruyff turn could be just as effective.

Like every move in soccer, learning how to master the nutmeg takes time, patience, and practice.  You need to develop a great touch to poke the ball through defenders’ legs but also not push it too far in front that you cannot successfully retrieve it on the other end.  Likewise, a good bit of deception also is crucial in opening up your defender and leaving them baffled once the nutmeg is performed.  Most importantly, a young soccer player must try out such moves to gauge their effectiveness.  Don’t be afraid to go in for the nutmeg because it really isn’t that difficult of a move.


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