The chest trap is one of four primary ways to trap a soccer ball (the other ways are the head trap, the thigh trap, and the foot trap). Trapping refers to the process of stopping or slowing a ball that has traveled from one player to another via a pass. If a player is using a chest trap to control the pass, presumably the ball has come to them through the air. Generally, air balls are best controlled with one of three traps: the head trap, the thigh trap, or the chest trap.
If a player elects to use a chest trap to slow the air ball, they should follow the guiding principle behind all trapping techniques: moving to meet the ball, not letting the ball come to meet them. This can be one of the hardest details to teach players, especially young players. But if a player gets in the habit of trapping a ball only while standing still, they will be less and less able to stop the ball while moving over time. This is why all trapping drills should be designed to mimic game time situations and pacing, and should not be done while standing still.
To execute the chest trap, first move into the ball’s path early and, as explained, come and meet the ball. Lean backward from the waist as you collect the ball against your chest. Extend your arms for balance, and remain on the balls of your feet as the ball travels down your body to the ground at your feet. Make your chest and stomach move inward, in a concave fashion, to help the ball travel down your body to the ground. Keep your dominant foot between the ball and the opponent.
The chest trap is designed to slow the ball and guide the ball down the body to a controlled stop at the foot. The chest trap is not some sort of chest “pass,” in which a player moves the ball to the ground in front of him with his chest and starts to dribble. Rather, the chest trap functions exactly as it sounds– to trap the incoming air ball against the body, and to allow gravity to take the ball down in a controlled manner to the ground. The chest trap is one of the most effective traps because it is harder for another player to take the ball away from you without a foul. Ideally, the ball will “stick” close to your body as it travels down to the ground, and the opponent will have a very difficult time removing the ball from your possession.
To practice the chest trap, again, it is important to mimic a game-like situation. While it may be helpful for a coach to first have the players stand still and practice trapping air balls with the chest and letting them fall to the ground, it is essential that you quickly move into a moving drill and do not move back into a standing drill after that. Have your players run toward you while you send a ball towards them. Send the ball in an arc so that your player can practice collecting the ball with the chest on its downward descent. This helps with timing as well as learning the feel of the chest trap. When your players seem to grasp the moving chest trap, you can start to send them air balls while they are making runs to the goal. They must perform a chest trap, then dribble and shoot on goal. Good luck!