How to Do a Cruyff Turn

Inspired by Johan Cruyff, use this move to shake a defender


| 1 min watch

Dutch superstar Johan Cruyff first used a “Cruyff Turn” during a group stage game against Sweden in the 1974 World Cup. While the Dutch finished second to West Germany that year, this move remains a favorite for players everywhere. 

What is a Cruyff turn?

A combination of a fake and a turn, a Cruyff Turn (or “Cruyff”) helps a player turn away from a defender or reverse direction quickly. Many people confuse it with a pullback, so here we break it down into simple steps so you — and your players — can learn  this classic move

How to do a Cruyff turn

Soccer player practicing the Cruyff Turn
Before starting this move, a player dribbles with their laces for a few touches into open space. 

Soccer player practicing the Cruyff Turn

Next, they plant one leg next to the ball, as if preparing to kick it with their other leg.

Soccer player practicing the Cruyff Turn

Once their plant foot — or standing leg — is set, their kicking leg should swing forward just past the ball, landing in front of the ball. 

Soccer player practicing the Cruyff Turn
The player continues the move by dragging or tapping the ball backwards with the inside of their foot, behind their standing leg. 

Soccer player practicing the Cruyff Turn
The player can tap sideways or back — the point is to change direction quickly and throw off a defender or dribble out of a tight space.

Soccer player practicing the Cruyff Turn
Finally, the player pivots their body to take the ball somewhere new, having (hopefully) executed a successful fake.

How to practice the Cruyff Turn

Once players learn to do the Cruyff on their own or against a teammate, encourage them to use it into any of your drills and games that involve dribbling. The best way for them to learn is to keep using it again and again. And again! 

Gates Dribbling and Free Dribbling are both good opportunities to try out a Cruyff Turn. During either of these activities, encourage players to attempt a Cruyff whenever you shout out the name.

Scrimmages and small-sided games are also great, since the added pressure of an opponent more closely resembles situations that call for a Cruyff in the actual game

When to use the Cruyff Turn

The Cruyff Turn is a tool that helps a player maintain possession of the ball and fake out a defender, and it’s a favorite for many attack-minded players, along with the step over, the scissor and other signature trick moves like Cristiano Ronaldo’s “Ronaldo Chop” and the Maradona Turn, named after Brazilian soccer great Diego Maradona.

Does a player need to master every move? Not at all. With one or two tricks in a player’s back pocket, maintaining control of the ball under pressure can be a lot easier. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that one of Johan Cruyff’s most lasting impacts on world soccer was not as a player, but as a coach for FC Barcelona. There, he pioneered the club’s singular play style, called tiki taka, which is known for — among other things — its lightning fast footwork and emphasis on (what else?) maintaining possession as a team.


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