How to Do a Step Over

Made famous by Rivellino, this move will freeze your defender


| 1 min watch

The step over is the classic soccer move. A player is dribbling the ball, suddenly there’s a blur of feet and you’re left wondering How did she do that? (Hopefully you’re not playing defense when it happens!)

What is a step over? 

The step over is a skill soccer players use to beat defenders one-on-one, and it’s so-named because the front leg literally steps over the ball after faking a pass, so the dribbler can quickly pivot away with the ball instead. It’s a versatile move because players can do a step over from either a standing start or while dribbling the ball at any pace, from walking to running.

Since many dribbling moves, like the Cruyff Turn or Ronaldo Chop, only work when the dribbler is moving at a pretty quick clip, this can make the step over  a bit easier to learn because players can start with a standing step over, then work their way up to full speed.

Back in the day, the kids called a step over the Rivellino, named for the Brazilian who made it famous in the ‘70s.

How to do a step over

The step over is all about the fake: making the defender think you’re going to pass or move in one direction, then darting off in the other.

Soccer player practicing a step over, step 1

The player starts by putting one foot just behind and to the side of the ball. When doing the step over with the left foot, put the right foot down at 5 o’clock. Then step over the ball with the other foot (the left foot, in this example).

Soccer player practicing a step over, step 2

Now the ball is to the side of both feet. 

Soccer player practicing a step over, step 3
The player uses the outside of the left foot — the one that just stepped over the ball — to push the ball to the left as they turn and run after it. Players can use their body to shield the ball from the defender, who’s now a step behind. 

How to practice a step over

The best way to try a step over for the first time is from a standing start. The point is to get players comfortable with simply stepping over the ball. 

How high do they need to lift the foot to bring it over? They’re faking a pass with the first part of the move. So, the closer the foot stays to the ball without touching it, the more they’ll “sell it” to the defender.

Then they can practice moving the ball with the outside of the foot. Players frequently pass with the inside of the foot, so it might take a while for them to learn to control the speed and direction of the ball using the outside of the foot instead.

Once a player is comfortable with a standing step over, it’s time to get moving! Walk, jog and then run, doing a step over each time the player wants to move in a different direction.

When to use a step over

Spend enough time watching soccer and you’ll see players at every position doing a step over — even goalkeepers, like Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer.

Any time a player has the ball and needs to create space for themselves, the step over can do the trick.

Experienced players will sometimes step over the ball several times while standing eye-to-eye with a defender. They do this to see how the defender responds and how their teammates are moving around before finishing the move (or doing another one) and taking off. Bringing the foot over the top of the ball also helps protect the ball, discouraging the defender from trying to take it away. 

Because the player is protecting the ball with her feet and body during the move, it’s perfect for getting out of trouble in tight spaces. But with a sharp step and a drop of the shoulder, it’s just as good to get past a defender and blast into daylight.

Maybe the better question is, “When won’t you use a step over?”

Answer: “When I’d rather do my Maradona Turn or scissor!”


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