Soccer learning process for kids should not be the same as adults! There are some major differences that parents and/or coaches should, probably, pay attention to, especially when it comes to the skills they should learn and how to teach them those skills probably …
… In this short article, I go through 14 essential soccer skills for kids to prepare them, hopefully, to become superior players when become adults!
So, without further do, let’s dive in!
1. Running with the ball with Balance
Running with the ball is the basis of soccer and represents the player’s ability to control the ball while in its possession.
For this skill, the focus should be on straightening the foot in order to hit the ball at every step with appropriate force.
The exercise that can be applied here is “hunter and rabbit”!
At each half of the field there are 4 players or rabbits. A hunter is in the middle of the field. The goal of the rabbits is to move the ball from their end of the field to the half where other rabbits are.
The hunter attacks them and tries to prevent them from reaching other rabbits. In order for rabbits to escape, they must communicate with each other and run with the ball.
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2. Smooth ball control
Ball control is the ability of a player to control the ball in a variety of movements and directions. This technique allows the player to save the ball from the opponent and maintain the possession.
In this way, the player ensures the continuation of the play of his team. The key to good ball control is in the leg and feet movement, but kids should learn to control the ball also with the head and chest.
Divide the kids into two groups. Each group has 6 cones in front of them, between which they must move and control the ball.
Player moves the ball between all six cones, turns around, repeats the drill in the opposite direction and hands over the ball to the next in line.
Groups compete among themselves to control the ball and finish the drill first. When controlling the ball between the cones, the ball must not run away and no cone can be skipped.
3. Juggling with ease!
Juggling is the basis for the development of the children’s sense of the ball. It represents the ability to control the ball while it is in the air, without allowing it to hit the ground.
When kicking the ball, the foot should be straight and firm. While the ball is in the air and the player is waiting for it to fall back, he must be in constant skip in order to keep the pace.
The exercise used here is simple. The player holds the ball in his hand and throws it in front of him.
When she bounces off the ground, the player’s task is to start juggling. The goal is to hit the ball as many times as possible before it finally falls on the ground.
Juggling is generally a skill that requires kids to be at a certain age to master it … You can learn about the most recommended age for kids to play soccer!
4. Efficient Dribbling
Dribbling is one of the most interesting technical elements for any child. Every kid wants to be a good dribbler, as it is quite an attractive skill.
Moving the ball around and the ability to keep it away from the opponents gives them a great pleasure. It also makes them feel more confident with the ball.
The children’s freedom should not be restricted when it comes to practicing this technique. They must be allowed to show their creativity.
Arrange 16 cones in a small, limited space, scattered around. The player leads the ball between them and has the task to apply a different trick to each cone. This can be dribbling with the outside or inside of the foot or make the body faint.
5. Changing pace at the right time …
Change of pace is the ability of a player to swiftly change direction while guiding the ball. If the player wishes to avoid colliding the opponent, or multiple defenders on the field, he uses this technique.
The kid should learn to move the ball quickly with both, the outside and inside of the foot. In addition, kids should learn how to pull the ball back with their sole, which is quite useful when wishing to slow down the play.
Place 4 cones in the shape of a square and the player with the ball is in the middle of the square. The task of the players is to make a change of movement with the ball at each cone.
Cones are symbolizing opposing players and the emphasis of this exercise should be on pulling and pushing the ball with swift change of the pace.
6. Taping properly
Taping represents the player’s ability to control the ball by alternately moving the ball with right and left foot, using only the inside of the foot. Like pulling, this is a very important skill for developing a child’s sense of the ball.
The exercise can be done both in place and in motion. Control the ball a few meters moving forward and then do the same moving backwards. Keep the head raised.
7. Passing with purpose
Passing is necessary for a successful implementation of tactics. The most common performance of passing is with the inside and outside of the foot.
When performing a passing, precision is an essential aspect. Passing can be done to an empty space in the field, or directly to teammate’s feet.
Place two cones at a distance of a few yards. Place a group of players behind each of them. The child who has the ball at the beginning of the exercise has the task to pass it to the feet of the first player of the opposite group.
When passes the ball, he goes to the back of the group he passed the ball.
8. Receiving the ball with comfortably
Receiving the ball is the ability of a player successfully to stop the ball that is going towards him.
Without a good ability to receive the ball, all the other elements of ball control fail to utilize it.
It can be done with the sole, inner and outer part of the foot, thighs, chest, and head.
Divide the players into pairs. They are passing the ball to each other, and when the ball reaches the player’s feet, he must receive it with a sole.
Every few minutes, change the part of the foot that can be used for receiving. When using the inside of the foot, the foot is positioned slightly above the grass, so the contact is established with the middle of the ball.
Being in constant skip before receiving the ball is mandatory.
9. Teamwork comes first!
Teamwork represents the development of affiliation with the team and its members!
Soccer is a collective sport that requires the cooperation of all team members in order to be successful.
The child should develop a team spirit, and not see himself as an individual but as part of a team. Selfishness and isolation should be prevented from an early age.
Limit the space and divide the kids into two teams, with all players having assigned numbers. They have the task of throwing the ball with their hands all over the field.
The ball must be in the air all the time and passed in numerical order. This will force players to communicate with each other and make them cooperate in order to accomplish the task successfully. First group to finish wins.
10. Accurate Shooting
Shooting is the basic means in soccer for scoring a goal. For children there is no greater joy than scoring a goal.
It is important to teach children how to approach the ball when kicking and how to position their feet. You should also pay attention to the body position.
Kids should learn proper shooting technique. Body must be slightly bent backward, but not too much. Wrong body positioning disturbs the balance and affects the quality of shot.
You line up a few cones in a row, 20 yards from goal.
Player dribbles the ball around them and then passes the ball to the coach who is about ten yards far from the goal.
The coach receives the ball and sends it to the side. The coach decides whether he will place it to the left or right side.
Player must make a run toward the ball and adapt his speed and body position for the shot at the goal.
11. Minimum Fitness
Fitness is the child’s ability to withstand all efforts in training and matches!
Certainly, fitness is of lesser importance at the youngest age, because the emphasis should be on developing technique and ball control.
However, fitness level should not be completely neglected. Only running is something that should be avoided, as kids find it boring.
These exercises should be as interesting as possible in order to make children amused while practicing.
Limit the area to 20 yards square and organize a group of players. The other group of players is positioned outside of the field.
The first player from a group outside the field has the task to enter that field and catch one player from the opposing group.
When the player is caught, they both go out of the field. Each player from the group outside the field has the task to catch one player from the group in the field.
Coordination improvement represents the development of children’s motor skills. It is developed best by the age of 12 and that is why these exercises should be started as early as possible.
Usually, coordination exercises are the initial part of the training. There are various pieces of equipment that can be used in coordination exercises, such as cones, ladders, obstacles or hoops.
Arrange the cones, obstacles or hoops in a row. You can also use a ladder which is best for these exercises. Children need to enter each field in a different way.
There are variants of these exercises where one leg goes in each field, both legs, sideways, jump into each field and combination of these.
13. Positioning Awareness
Positioning helps children learn the importance of formation and using the space on the field.
When they start to train football and play matches, children usually run where the ball is. A large group of players around the ball can often be seen at the matches of the youngest kids.
Children should be taught to hold their positions and not to run where the ball is, but to play in accordance with duties of their role.
One simple drill that can help children learn positioning is to mark with cones the area their position cover. Make them pass the ball around, but each kid can move only in his field.
14. Space Awareness
Awareness is important to develop at an early age. Children often keep their head down when running with a ball or while kicking, so they cannot see a clear situation on the field.
It is very important that the head is always raised, in order to see where the opposing players or the teammates are.
Limit the field to 20 yards and put a group of players in it. The other group of players is outside that field. Players who are in the field have the task of moving the ball around.
The off-field players have the task of chasing those players and taking the ball from them. Players inside are limited to the marked area, while players outside can roam freely.
Players inside the field must always watch where the players that chase the ball are and where teammates are, in order to keep the control over the ball.
Final Thoughts …
These skills I’ve mentioned above were chosen carefully, these are the foundation that will be the core of your kid’s abilities for the future!
If the kid starts learning all these skills, all at the same time, this could be overwhelming, confusing or even discouraging for him. That’s why focusing on each skill at a time is the best way to approach the learning process.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that kids should play soccer at the beach, it has a ton of benefits … You can learn about these tips to practice soccer in the beach!