As a player, a proper warm-up is one of the most important skills to master. It can be the difference between having a fantastic game, and having an absolute howler. There are numerous exercises and touches you can perform before a match, or practice, to ensure that your touch is sound and you’re comfortable on the ball. One of the most important exercises is “la croqueta”—otherwise known as: the pendulum, the slide box, box, or croquet (among other names). If you’re ever in a pinch on the pitch, this move can be the difference between getting yourself out of trouble, and losing possession.
La Croqueta is one of the most basic movements a player can do, and should be in every player’s pocket. It is a great movement to master and can be seen throughout every level of play.
Begin standing still with your feet shoulder width apart and gently slide the ball back and forth between your feet. Get into the habit of keeping your head up now. It’s only going to be more crucial as your skills progress. The ball should be sliding under control, at the same speed one direction as the other until it feels easy and natural. Once you’ve mastered La Croqueta standing still, begin to move around while sliding the ball in between your feet. Vary the speeds, the direction, and the distance each time to keep yourself on your toes. Remember, you want the ball to slide smoothly and easily at the same speed between each foot!
This move is a fundamental for nearly every top player in the game. Necessary for keeping possession while still moving forward at a quicker pace than other flashier techniques.
Here’s a tutorial from Freekickerz that explains the Croqueta and some of it’s variations:
Once you get the basics down, feel free to add in additional moves to combo the box. As you begin to feel more comfortable, you can start to stretch your box step and really begin to give defenders nightmares.
Here is a quick video on how to stretch your step:
The master of La Croqueta is none other than El Ilusionista himself, Andres Iniesta:
If you haven’t already, practice this technique every time you have a ball in front of you. It is one of the best ways to start your workout, and one of the best ways to end a defender!
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