Soccer is a contact sport. Unfortunately we frequently forget about this in training so when the players do come up against contact in a game they aren’t prepared.
Here is the beginning of a nice progression to prepare players to deal with contact, receive balls and react accordingly. There is an excellent series on this topic in the DVD 25 Exercises to Train Competitive 1 v 1 Play.
Start with a a 10 x 10 playing area and a server 15 yards away with some balls. There are two lines of players side by side on the far side of the playing area.
The first step of the progression has the first player in each line sprinting forward while making contact with each other and the server plays the ball toward them.
Whichever player gets to the ball first plays it back one touch to the server.
Those two players would then sprint to the back of the line and the next two players begin. The key is for the two players to make contact early and often and not just try to out sprint the other player.
Next is the exact same thing but this time the player who gets to the ball first works to keep it by shielding the ball while staying in the grid. The objective is to keep the ball for 10 seconds while the other player tries to win the ball. The key here is to use the body to shield the ball and to keep the defender as far from the ball as possible.
If the defender wins the ball they try to keep it for 10 seconds. If possession is kept for 10 seconds or the ball goes out of the playing area, the two players go to the back of the lines and the next two begin.
Next is the exact same thing but now the player who receives the ball must turn and try to dribble the ball over the end line. The defender tries to prevent this.
There are many other options for this progression including balls played in the air, bouncing balls, move requirements etc. The key is to get the players accustomed to the type of contact they will see in a game (and the type of contact which is PERMITTED in games).
There is an excellent series on this topic in the DVD 25 Exercises to Train Competitive 1 v 1 Play.
Have a great day!