As a sports parent we want our kids to learn while having fun in what they do. If they enjoy it, then we want to give them the opportunity to improve. As a parent of 2 daughters, my wife and I want the best for our soccer beginners. This doesn’t mean we want them to be the best in everything they do. Although, we want to give them the opportunity to learn what’s needed. We want them to try their best, so that they build healthy habits going forward. Below are 7 ways to help your soccer beginners improve.
So much to teach new players
It’s hard for many parents to just sit back and watch their kids play the game. You don’t realize how much there is to learn until the game starts.
For a soccer beginner there is so much going on in their head. They hear so many different people wanting to help and some saying opposite things.
I never realized how much there is to learn and teach, until watching my own child play for the first time.
There are even certain skills that some learn faster than others depending on how their brain connects with the feet.
Technical soccer training the right way
It goes like this… Players are either getting exercise or they’re getting training.
Exercise is running around doing what is easier and most comfortable.
Training is actually doing a method that will help teach correct muscle memory and build skills using different parts of the feet to control the ball.
Players who just rush through a drill are often times doing it the wrong way or losing valuable touches.
It’s not that getting more touches is better, it’s that you get enough of the right stuff. You can get 1,000 touches, but if it’s corny tricks or too much basic the player will lose out.
If you are the type of coach or player who wants the good stuff and not be overwhelmed with hundreds of drills than my online ball control program is for you.
Enjoy the moment together as a soccer family
At the end of the season we want to look back and say we had fun right!
On game day I recommend parents don’t tell the kids what to do.
Sure, tell them good job or great hustle, but save the teaching for the practicing in the backyard or the park. This way the kids improve at home spending time with mom/dad.
Then in the game it’s better for them because you aren’t telling them what to do in that environment. Therefore the coach can do that job. Plus the time spent at home makes them better for the games.
When the kids improve and learn they automatically enjoy the experience more.
I have my own kids to support in their weekend activities, so I don’t get to watch my trainees as much.
In youth soccer there is so much to teach during off the ball situations and defensively! It’s frustrating to see how many simple things they should know, but are not being taught by many coaches.
Again, I recommend working with your kids a little at home and then on game day just chill and enjoy.
As parents you just have to enjoy the moment and together have fun with it. You will all look back and laugh one day.
7 things to teach all soccer beginners
- Learning the rules of the game is a must. Players need to also know the team rules. Respect the coach and others always. Be a good listener and do your best.
- Dribbling The best ways to improve is by teaching different parts of the feet. Get my secret recipe skills homework.
- Passing Stationary using the inside of the feet. Understand that not all the kids will get this down right away. For this to be correct the toe should be up and then when you follow through [kick the ball] make sure the inside of the foot shows to the target. Naturally the foot wants to close. Practice short 5 yard passes like this – video.
- Trapping [receiving] is what players will do or attempt more than any other skill. The ball is going to come to you whether it’s from your teammate or the opposing team. Therefore, learning how to trap is vital. One of the best drills is have the players partner up and get 3-7 yards apart. They can work on passing and trapping all in 1 drill. Players should mostly use the inside of the foot – toes up.
- Shooting / Long Pass is the hardest thing to teach when there is a group/team. First of all, there are different ways to kick a long ball. Second, there are many details in the mechanics. I have another article on shooting and finishing which is worth a look.
- Defending in a goal side position is something kids as young as 7 should learn. They might not remember or perform right away, the introduction needs to be made.
- Encourage young players after they mess up. As long as they are trying, telling them “good try”. They need to know it’s okay to mess up.
Improving passing form quickly in soccer beginners
The KEY for FAST IMPROVEMENT for soccer beginners passing is literally grabbing their foot to guide proper form and follow through.
How to do this:
- Kneel down and have them put their hand on your shoulder, so they keep their balance.
- One of your hands guides their foot to follow through with toes up and keeping the inside of the foot open. Don’t let it close after the contact point.
- Then with your other hand grab the ball to keep still and have them swing and connect lightly on the ball, connecting with the “sweet spot” of the foot… This needs to be slow, so they can teach the muscle memory the right way.
Repeat 3-5 times. It doesn’t take much.
Keeping soccer beginners having fun and encouraged
Remember for some [probably half] the players are naturally going to be better or more used to kicking with their toe or laces.
Don’t expect these ones to get the inside pass down for a while. Maybe even all season. When they are young it’s not a big deal, because you don’t want to frustrate or discourage them.
We want kids to come back and play soccer next season right! So make it fun, educate and encourage them. Teach them that it’s okay to make mistakes, and with practice they will get it down.
Brief developmental age breakdown for soccer kids ages 5-6
Ages 5-6 depending on the kid of course, this is an age where you don’t stress too much on the technical side. But you sure don’t ignore it either because they are smart and will improve.
This is the age where you want to make them believe they can play soccer. If you really want to get them ahead then work on their motor skills [agility] with and w/o the ball.
Let these youngsters have fun and remember the oranges and drinks at the end of the game.
Skill wise, make sure they are getting used to dribbling a lot. Using all parts of both feet.
In practice, let them score a lot of goals and don’t worry about correcting them too much.
Let them know not to use the toe much, but don’t stress it. They will grow out of that and learn to control their feet more.
A girl on my daughters U9 team uses the toe naturally to pass and shoot, but she’s an amazing athlete. I coach their team voluntarily and tell her it’s okay to use it at times, but to be patient with herself and try to use the inside.
Here’s a video below of a 5 year old working with me on dribbling and using the inside and outside of both feet. He knows more Spanish, so I am doing my best to speak it:)
Soccer players ages 7-8
Ages 7-8 will get kids ahead for sure, especially if the player commits to private, small group soccer training or practicing at home on the right things.
Never the less, don’t think this has to be a year round commitment at this age. Although, if you have the time and money and know that your player really loves soccer, do it.
Kids that I have seen that go strong on outside club training at ages 6, 7 & 8 get way ahead technically.
Most kids who do this year round are the players who love soccer more than any other sport.
Age breakdown for ages 9-13
Ages 9-10 is the age where they get ready to play select. This means that out of all the ages, this is the age where parents know it’s serious.
You start to see more competition and realize that there are some amazing players at this age.
If money and time are not an issue, then get your 9 or 10 year old some skills at least 6 months out of the year. Kids I have seen start private or small group from age 10-13 are solid and not burned out. Or at least not the kids I have trained.
Ages 11-13 are the years you have to get the skills in, especially if you didn’t skill as a younger player.
Remember some of these kids are committing to Universities [College Soccer] in 9th and 10th grade.
You want to be showing your best by 9th – 11th grade. Of these years 11th grade is the year most soccer players commit, but 10th grade has really shown growth in numbers committing.
12 grade is late, but not too late. If you don’t want to play college soccer, I’m sure you want to play high school soccer.
Making some of these teams is hard, so if you get serious between 11-13 you’ll have plenty of time to prepare.
Learning to work together
As parents we want our kids to listen well and work together.
Learning to work your hardest sets good habits the rest of your life and will remind you that you can do it.
Soccer beginners need to learn the importance of working as a team. Try your hardest and encourage one another.
Too many people nowadays say it’s all about having fun. Having fun should be high on the list, but trying your best is more important because you can always do that.
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