What Is Trapping in Soccer? (Full Explanation)

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Video Trapping soccer
Trapping in soccer: Trapping a soccer ball, also known as “controlling” or “receiving”, is an essential skill that all players should try to master. In this post, we will describe in detail how to trap a soccer ball, the different parts of the body you can receive the ball with, and some other tips and tricks to help you and your players successfully trap and control the ball to retain possession. First, let’s look at what trapping is.

What Is Trapping In Soccer?

Trapping in soccer refers to stopping and gaining control of the ball after receiving a pass from a teammate or from a misplaced pass from an opponent. Trapping is also known as “receiving” or “controlling” the ball. By successfully trapping a soccer ball, a player gains control of the ball and can quickly make the next move.

Trapping was a term that was originally used to describe players bringing the football under control with their feet. However, the term has been extended in modern football to include other parts of the body, such as the chest and thighs.

As with many techniques in soccer, context is key! Your position on the field, the position of your teammates, the position of your opponents, and the flight of the ball are all important when deciding how to trap the ball and which part of the body to use.

Trapping is a skill that most modern footballers need to master to play in the top leagues. But some players are much better at it than others. Some players only have the skills to perform one or two types of trapping while others, such as the likes of Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo. They can trap the ball with just about any part of their bodies.

Different Types Of Trapping On Football

Gaining and keeping control of the football in tight areas is an ability that sets the best footballers apart from the others. It allows them to set up passes or goal-scoring opportunities when it seemed almost impossible to do so.

Picture Messi or Ronaldo, turning and passing, setting off on an exhilarating dribble, or sending a defender the wrong way with a drop of a shoulder to create a goal-scoring chance. All these moves tend to start with a one-touch trap. Trapping may not be natural for everyone. But it’s a skill that all footballers should practice from an early age.


Below are a few different types of traps that will broaden your knowledge and allow you to impress your friends.

Step Trap or Stud Trap

The step trap or stud trap is the art of bringing the football under control with the underside of your boot. This type of trap is ideal for bringing the ball to a complete stop.

The step trap was the original art of trapping. But with the skill levels in football and the pace of the game constantly increasing, it is used less and less in modern games.

Instep Trap

As the name suggests, the instep trap is when a player traps the football with their instep. The instep trap is the most used trap in football. And this will often be the first touch of a player that is looking to pass, dribble, or shoot.

The Outstep Trap

The Outstep trap is when a player controls the football with their outstep. It is a less natural movement than the instep trap. However, it can be used to outwit defenders when used to turn and pass or shoot in the opposite way than your opponent is expecting.

Laces Trap

Footballers tend to use their laces to trap the football when it is coming toward them after the ball has been punted high into the air. As a football is bouncy, it takes great skill to be able to trap the ball with your laces before it hits the ground.

When the football has been punted into the air, your opponents also have more time to read where the ball is going. So you’re likely to be pressurized by them when trying to perform a laces trap.

Thigh Trap

The thigh trap is another skill that is most used when a punted ball is falling downwards toward you. It may be that you’ve misjudged the flight of the ball and are forced to trap it with your thigh rather than your laces.

However, with defenders snapping at your heels, trapping the ball with your thigh can also be a conscious decision to try and bring the ball under control quicker. Because your thigh is nearer to the ball than your foot.

Chest Trap

Trapping a falling ball on your chest is a quicker way to bring a falling ball under control than using either your thigh or foot. Players that have mastered the chest trap, angle their chest at the last moment to allow them to turn one way or another to pass, shoot, or dribble.

Professionals will often get their teammates to punt balls to them. So they can get used to trapping balls with their chest, thighs, and laces in different scenarios.

Decision-Making When Trapping The Ball

As was hinted at throughout this post, decision-making plays an important part when trapping the ball. Deciding which type of trap to make and where to make the ball land, depends on whether the ball is in the air or along the ground, the position of your opponents, and the position of your teammates.


Over time, players will develop a sense of which trap to use in different situations. But when learning for the first time it’s important for coaches to highlight this decision-making process. To do this coaches often talk about playing with your head up or even with your head “on a swivel”. This way players can make a good and quick decision about what to do with the ball before they even receive it.

Final Thought

As I stated before, figuring out how to stop a soccer ball in the air is not that hard. With that said, successfully doing the trap is not something that is difficult to master.

There is no excuse for not being good at it. Because you can do this anytime and anywhere with just a soccer ball, a little bit of space, and yourself throwing and/or kicking the ball into the air.

Repetitions are what make the good great, so don’t be afraid to fail and keep going repeatedly.

Trapping the ball out of the air is so crucial at the youth level. Because there is a tendency to play boom ball.

On the other hand, if you are efficient at controlling the soccer ball, your team is very likely to keep possession and end up winning the game handsomely!

We hope that’s answered your question, what is trapping in football? Visit and follow us – FootballTerms to update more information about soccer terms and rules.

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