Many of the popular skills used by soccer fanatics all over the world get their names from the player who popularized the move. Perhaps the most widely used is the Cruyff turn, made famous by Johan Cruyff, the legendary Netherlands forward who helped pioneer the Total Football philosophy in the 1970s. And while Cruyff was a man with his fair share of flair, the move we're focusing on in this article (also named after an iconic player) is arguably even silkier.
We're talking of course, about the Maradona turn. A world-famous move designed to demonstrate skill and get attackers in behind their defensive opposition, it's a popular move with an interesting history. That's why today, we'll be answering the question "What is the Maradona turn?".
We'll dive into the history of this soccer skill, before giving you a practical guide to how you can perform it yourself. But let's start with the basics. . .
The Maradona turn is a dribbling skill where players pirouette over the ball as a way of beating an opposition defender, particularly if that defender is approaching them at an angle.
This skill involves using your body to shield the ball while you turn, meanwhile using close control to drag the ball in the direction you want to move into. Essentially, you're performing a 360-degree spin on top of the ball, staying tight to it, and using delicate little touches to cleverly maneuver that ball and give the opponent the slip.
The Maradona soccer move is also called a "roulette" due to the smooth spin it's built around. Others have called it the "hurricane" or the "twister", also based on the shape of movement it creates.
The main purpose of this soccer skill is to get you out of tight spots on the pitch. When you're surrounded by opposition defenders with little space to move, a Maradona turn can help open up a new area of the soccer field to dribble into.
Almost reminiscent of a gliding ballet dancer, the elegance through which this skill can be achieved explains why it's associated with arguably the greatest soccer player of all time. So let's talk about that man in a little more detail.
It probably won't come as a surprise to you that the Maradona soccer move was popularized by the man whose name is in its title: Diego Maradona.
The legendary Argentine forward sadly died in 2020 aged just 60, but he will forever remain one of the greatest ever players to grace the soccer field.
The man who led Argentina's successful charge to the 1986 World Cup trophy in Mexico (the tournament in which he made enemies over in England for that historic display), Maradona didn't just get major success with his international team. He also won a number of domestic trophies, from Serie A and Coppa Italia with Napoli to the Copa Del Rey with Barcelona and the Argentine Primera Division with Boca Juniors.
Victories, awards, but most of all, a singular personality and unbelievable flair were what made Maradona unique. Part of his charm was his desire to entertain, which was encapsulated by his development of the skill we're focusing on in this article: the Maradona soccer move.
It's important to state early on that while Diego Maradona was the man who made this skill famous (along with French international Zinedine Zidane, who later became renowned for his use of the skill in the 1990s and 2000s), he was not the first to use it.
In fact, another term people use to describe this skill is the Marseille turn, due to the fact that it was French striker Yves Mariot who first introduced the world of soccer to the move in the 1970s.
But it was in the following decade that Diego Maradona started wowing global audiences with his unbelievable flair, and this 360 spin was a favorite move of his.
Showcased in his early days with Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors in the early 1980s, through to his pomp later that decade with Napoli and Argentina, the famous Maradona turn accompanied the little magician everywhere he went. It's often said that when Maradona played he made it seem as though the soccer ball was attached to his foot by a string, and arguably this skill evokes that image more than any other.
This YouTube video showcases some of the most impressive 360 turns ever completed by the Argentina legend. What a player.
Right, it's time to stop admiring the Argentine great and start giving you some tips on how to perform this trick yourself. Follow the steps below, and you'll be bringing this iconic skill into your own arsenal in no time.
Step #1: Start by dribbling - you've got to be on the move for this trick to work.
Step #2: Place the toe studs of your dominant foot on the top of the ball, almost stopping it, but not quite.
Step #3: Drag the ball back just a few inches, slowing the ball down while twisting your body in the direction of your dominant foot. Use your dominant arm to shield the ball from the defender as you begin turning.
Step #4: While you turn, receive the ball with your non-dominant foot. In one fluid movement, stop the ball with your toe studs before dragging it into space a few steps ahead of you.
Step #5: Complete your body turn and chase onto the ball that you've just dragged into space. Now, you will have completed almost a full 360-degree spin and moved the ball away from the defensive player. Change your pace here, and accelerate into the space you've created.
Here are a few key points to bear in mind as you perform this trick:
The Maradona turn works best when defenders are coming towards you from an angle or on your side, rather than straight on. This is because you don't have to do a full 360 in these situations, and the angle you're working at makes shielding the ball using your body easier.
This skill is all about changing direction. You don't just spin in a full circle before moving off in the same direction, because that would be pointless. Instead, this move centers on using your body as a shield before spitting you out into a different direction away from the defender.
You also don't have to do this at lightning speed. Going too fast can cause the ball to go all over the place. If that's happening, just slow down a little.
In order to become a master of the Maradona turn (which is also called a double drag-back, a name you'll probably understand now you've seen each individual step), you'll need to practice. Start by practicing the Maradona turn without the ball, getting your body used to the movements of the technique, and building up your confidence. Next, try practicing the Maradona turn from a standing position, accelerating away from your imaginary defender at the end of the move.
Once you've honed the basics of the skill, incorporate dribbling into the technique, before finally using cones to represent defenders. Set up three cones in a V shape about 5 yards apart from each other. Dribble to the second cone, which represents the defender, then do the Maradona spin and accelerate to the third cone. Repeat until you've mastered the trick.
Taking on board these tips and using this methodical practicing process will allow you to gradually build up your confidence until the Maradona soccer move comes a lot more naturally. Once you feel like you can pull it off, why not try it in a game?
Remember, since this skill is best for escaping an oncoming player in a tight area, so try and save it for a moment when things are crowded and this trick could open up some useful space for you. If you think you can do it, there's nothing to lose.
Fancy finding out about some other amazing skills to blow away your teammates and opposition defenders? Check out our guides to the rabona and la croqueta, two classic skill moves that can help you demonstrate serious flair. Or if you want to practice like Maradona, check out our Soccer Tennis article, a game that he once competed against Lionel Messi.
Widely understood as one of the world's greatest ever soccer players, Diego Maradona was an incredibly skillful and technically gifted Argentine international who won the 1986 World Cup as well as a raft of domestic trophies with clubs such as Napoli, Barcelona, and Boca Juniors.
While skills such as the step over or the Cruyff turn look great when pulled off effectively, they're much simpler than certain advanced skill moves such as the rabona or the rainbow kick, which might just be the hardest technique of all.
A showboating move made famous by the likes of Neymar and Jay Jay Okocha, the rainbow kick is an audacious skill that involves rolling the ball up your standing leg before flicking it over the head of an opponent and rushing on into space.