Teaching kids a sport like soccer is definitely not an easy task, however it could be really fun and exciting for both you, as a coach, and the kid!
It is really important to follow the right process in order to make sure the kid is actually learning the fundamentals they need to actually improve their game!
In this article, I breakdown the correct approach for teaching kids a sport like soccer.
Let’s dive in!
First, Get your Kid excited about Soccer
Getting kids excited about soccer is easy. It’s a matter of getting them behind a ball and not so much about exposing them videos of soccer. Many people try to show the sport to kids, but without making contact with a ball the thrill is missing!
You don’t have to explain the game in any detail when first starting out. All you have to do is put your kid in behind a ball and have them kick it as hard as they.
More times than not, the kid will love that feeling of giving it their all in order to make the ball go as far as they can. So often kids are told to restrain themselves. Now, they have the opportunity to let loose and be explosive in a whole new way they are not accustomed to.
After a few kicks, then they can practice passing. Instead of kicking just to kick, now their kicks have a purpose. As a parent or coach, you can be the receiver. Vary your distance from your kid.
Passing drills help get the core mechanics of the game inside the kids head. They learn to kick the ball where they want it to go. At the basic level, this is the whole idea of soccer.
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Understanding the basic Rules
At this point, all the kid knows is they have to get the ball from where they have it to where they want it. What they don’t know yet is in order to get that ball where they want it go there are a few rules to accomplish this goal.
First off, there’s an opponent that doesn’t want them to achieve their goal.
You simply tell them that the other team wants to do exactly like they want to do – get the ball where they want it.
And ultimately, everyone is trying to get the ball in the back of their opponent’s net.
Soccer is a simple game. Kids have an easy time picking it up once they realize they have to get the ball in the back of the net.
From here, you can explain the nuances of getting the ball downfield from passing to shooting.
Walk them through getting the ball from their goalie to behind their opponent’s goalie. Explain each player’s role as the ball travels down one end of the field to the next.
Help him develop the right attitude
When starting out, kids should have the attitude that the sport is all about fun. No need to introduce winning or losing. All they need to know is to have fun and respect everyone on the field.
Kids only want to have fun anyway. The best way to do this is by never keeping score. However, with kids 11+, you might want to keep score. By this age, the concept of winning and losing is not foreign to them.
If you decide to keep score, only bring it up as additional information. Never use the score for positive or negative reinforcement. Tournaments are the only time for score keeping.
In the beginning, don’t bother with scores. Focus on respect and fun.
Help your kid develop decent physical attributes
The average professional soccer player is running 7 miles a match. Your kids will not come close this amount in practice or a match. That does not mean they can get by without any type of physical training.
Soccer is a physical sport that requires a large amount of endurance. The only way to get this endurance is by training for it. Drills are excellent for skill training, but nothing compares to endurance running for building up the necessary stamina for soccer.
Like any other workout regiment, a warm up is important and must not be skipped!
After the warm up, as a coach or parent you should be focusing on specific drills next. Finally, the last workout should be timed endurance runs.
5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes…..and so on as the weeks go by.
A proper cool down after every session is equally important after every training session.
Build upon every week and eventually endurance runs will be their own training session because of the amount of time they take to complete.
Learning the basic skills …
Dribble, pass, shoot.
These three skills are the core of soccer. They are easy to comprehend, but extremely difficult to master.
The key to dribbling is light touches. Kids have a tendency of kicking the ball along much harder than they should …
… Set up two cones at least eight feet in distance apart. Have your kids slowly kick the ball from one to the other. Small kicks followed by hopping forward will help get the movements down.
Passing and shooting are similar. Both share the same goal – get the ball where you want it. You can practice passing from a stationary position, then you move onto various directions and distances.
Once that feels comfortable for your child, practice combining dribbling and passing!
Shooting is a matter of building up leg strength to get a powerful shot. The only way to achieve this is the constant shots on goal. You’ll need a net for shooting drills, or at the least have your kid kick the ball as far as they can and you receive the shot and pass it back for another try.
You can keep these drills as simple or as difficult as you want. Get creative and if at possible try to turn each drill into their own game.
You can learn more about the most critical soccer skills for kids!
Assist your child while choosing the right position
Choosing the right position for anyone is difficult. First off, no position is permanent. If your kid is drawn to being a goalie, even if they have never done it, don’t let them believe they’ll always be one.
The day may come when they want to play another position. Nothing is wrong with bouncing from position to position. Some may argue that valuable time is wasted focusing on a position that may not be permanent.
Starting out is the best time to try all the positions. Have your child try every position if possible.
Or, you could go the traditional route and let them join a team as a shooter. This position is the simplest because they only have to focus on one task – make a goal at all costs.
Your child knows what’s most comfortable for themselves. So, let them try all the positions till they fall into one that feels right. If they change their mind, they can always find another.
Encourage them to try them all.
You can learn more how you should pick the best soccer position!
Make soccer fun for him
Rules, repetitive drills, and rigorous training drain all the fun out of soccer when starting out. The best way to keep the sport fun is to invent games to play between training sessions.
Foot races secretly build strength and stamina. Long passes to players within a box made of four cones focuses on aim, but can be disguised as a game.
Knocking over cans from various heights and distances is another drill that can be disguised as a game.
These small challenges seem like games, but they are reinforcing skills your child should be practicing.
Compete with your kids in creative ways and they’ll be sure to have fun. Let them take over game making a few times so they’ll continue to be engaged.
Learning other skills
Learning should be done on and off the field. Communication and teamwork are vital to performing well on a team.
If your child has poor communication skills, then they will have a hard time in any team they join. They should be able to speak openly and with consideration of officials, coaches, and other players.
When first starting out, kids will want to keep the ball all to themselves. Early on they need to learn soccer is a team sport. Passing the ball is equally effective as them constantly shooting towards the goal.
Another player may have a better position that almost guarantees a goal, but if they rely too much on themselves they run the risk of being blocked. Having strong teamwork skills will help with getting more goals and better positioning.
Having the right attitude is important, just as much as having the right skill set for on and off the field.
Teach your kid the soccer values
Winning and losing are a part of life, and those 11+ will learn this through soccer. All ages learn the importance of hardwork, dedication, and fair play.
Sports offer so many values that help enrich a person’s life. Soccer is no exception to this. These values will be learned from the first practice all the way to their last game.
A good way to make sure your kids are learning from soccer is to ask what they learned.
That’s the simplest way to reinforce the values they come across while playing soccer. Simply ask them what they’ve learned and try to incorporate different values such as teamwork or perseverance.
It’s not difficult to pull values out of every session of soccer.
Teach him the winning mentality
So far, winning and losing has been intentionally left out for beginner soccer players. The parents and coaches with older kids should instill the winning mentality into their kids.
Because without this mentality they will not succeed. There will always be a better team, whether they are more skilled or talented.
How can kids overcome these teams? By having a winning mentality. They must want it more than the other team. The only way to develop this mentality is through repetition.
Constantly drill into your kids the idea that hardwork and perseverance will lead to winning. If not, losses will follow along with lower self-esteem. The winning mentality will translate to all aspects of their lives.
Joining a club is important!
Is joining a club important? Absolutely. In order for your kids to improve they must be exposed to coaches that are experienced and have the ability to teach your kids what you can not.
Additionally, clubs give kids the opportunity to compete on a sanctioned level combined with fierce competition. This competition will lead to forced improvement. At this level, the most amount of improvement will be achieved.
Joining a club is easy. A quick internet search will pull up plenty of options. It’s a matter of finding one that fits your budget and schedule.
Clubs provide everything a beginner player needs to reach their maximum potential.
Get him to follow or support a local soccer team
Support your local teams As the MLS continues to grow, more cities will provide more opportunities to watch teams. But, there are more clubs and teams to follow around your town.
Take your kid to these games so they can see advanced players perform. This support keeps these teams going and gives your child inspiration to keep pushing to reach these levels.
Also, it’s always fun to watch a local game.
Final Thoughts: Playing soccer video games occasionally
Soccer video games are effective at building interest and keeping interest in the sport. However, they should not be substitutes for playing the sport.
These games should only be used for inspiration.
They do no harm, only good when used sparingly. In fact, kids can learn a lot from soccer video games. The rules and techniques can be picked up while playing soccer video games.
Kids can not be on the field all the time, with video games at least they can pretend to be on one virtually. Don’t rule out soccer video games as a learning tool and excellent resource.
Finally, I highly encourage you to learn about the right age to get kids started in soccer!