As a sports parent we want our kids to learn while having fun in what they do. If they enjoy it, then we want them to do well in it. 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. But 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. As soccer beginners there is so much to learn & teach! Check out these 7 ways to help your soccer player improve.
Soccer beginners learn to work together
This season my oldest is playing soccer again. So far her favorite sports in order are 1) swimming 2) basketball and then 3) soccer. Trust me I don’t care if she doesn’t play soccer, but I do want her to work hard and help her teammates. I am laid back when it comes to my kids sports, but if they are not working hard I will get their attention in a positive way. 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 should be taught to work hard and have fun. Too many people nowadays say it’s all about having fun, but you can’t just have fun. You also need to work hard for yourself and your team.
So much to teach these soccer beginners
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 program is for you.
Enjoy the moment together as a soccer family
At the end of the day, week, season and soccer journey 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. Plus the time spending 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. While watching my daughters or trainees I realized there is so much to teach during off the ball situations and defensively! It frustrating to see how many simple things they should know, but are not being taught by most 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
Whether you are new to soccer as a youth or adult the same things should be taught. The most important things to learn for beginners I have listed here.
- Learning the rules of the game are obviously one of the most important things. But also the players need to know the team rules. Respect the coach and others always. Be the best listener you can be, work hard and have fun. Common rules of the game are: no hand unless you are the goalie. Even though at younger ages 3-6 they don’t use goalies. But then which way to go is something that kids ages 6 and under have a hard time with. Having fun should be a rule and also working your hardest. Then there are other things that happen every game like throw ins and goal kicks. Explaining to the kids how to do these things is important. This way they don’t feel the stress during the game on what to do. It is stressful when the coach, all the parents and the ref are yelling things during the game. So explaining the rules to the kids from the beginning will help with the joy and understanding of it all.
- Dribbling which means making short touches with your feet to get down the field or away from defenders. The best ways to improve are getting lots of touches in a small space. If you want to have my secret recipe skills homework click here. These online courses will change a new players game quick and even our college players use this particular course. After getting these touches then you want to get used to dribbling 10-30 yards away. Most new soccer players are going to only use the inside of the foot. So there are drills that will quickly improve your control and dribbling skills, simply by forcing the feet to touch the ball with the top/laces, inside, outside and bottom/sole. If players learn the right way, they will show great improvement in just 1-2 hours of training time. This doesn’t have to be all in the same day. Example if I am doing a private 1on1 lesson with a new player for 1 hour, I will teach them dribbling, passing, trapping/stopping and shooting or long passes. So for dribbling I will try to do 15-30 mins and then the rest of the time will be done passing and shooting.
- Passing Stationary using the inside of the foot, but you must understand that not all the kids will get this down right away. Half the kids will be more natural at kicking with the top of the foot or the toe and the other half will use the inside. It’s something to do with the way their brain and muscles are wired. So be patient and don’t get on them about it. 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, because it’s been used to the toes pointing forward your whole life. So now when the player tries to open up the foot and keep it showing to the target it feels weird and the muscle memory will take over. So the key is practicing short 5 yard passes over and over, so that you can teach the muscles to do what you want, not what the muscles want.
- Trapping Is what players are going to do more than any other skill. Or at least they will attempt to. The ball is going to come to you whether it’s from your teammate or the opposing team. So learning how to trap is vital. This is also called your first touch [1st touch]. Or you could explain to a younger player that it’s stopping the ball. This helps them understand what trapping is. One of the best drills for any age or level is have the players partner up and get 3-7 yards apart. They can work on passing and trapping all in 1 drill. Make sure the players are mostly using the inside of the foot toe up to trap and pass.
- Shooting / Long Pass will not be easy at all but this has to be at least introduced. This is by far going to be the hardest thing to teach when there is a group/team. The best way even for High School Varsity players is going to be in a private individual lesson. The reason is because there are so many details in shooting [kicking with power] it’s not even funny. First of all there are different ways to kick a long ball and then second there are so many details in the mechanics/form. I have other blog post on shooting and finishing here which is worth taking a look at. The most important thing to know is that with practice it will come, but it takes time so be patient. This is by far what I see players who have club coaches their whole life, but the kids still don’t know the proper way to angle their feet, legs, arms or body. The team coach does not have time to teach this and also most coaches don’t even know the right way. Trust me I see it all the time!
- Defending keeping your body between the ball or person you are guarding. This is called “Goal Side”. So if the player on the other team is dribbling to the goal, you want to get between them and the goal. So practice doing 1 vs 1 / 1 on 1 drills from different parts of the field. First start from the center and make sure the defender is staying between the player with the ball and the goal. If the player moves to the left then you wan to mirror them so you stay in front. Using the term “mirror’ is a smart thing to use with new soccer players because they immediately understand. After a few reps from the middle of the field, start the drill from the sideline because now the defender needs to not only be in front of the ball, but a little bit to the side so that they are between the ball and the goal.
- Encourage young and older players! Yes, we want to encourage someone when they do well, but the key to really making people feel good is to encourage them when they mess up. As long as they are trying, telling them good job after a mistake releases so much stress. This alone will help them believe in themselves and learn much faster. And not just soccer beginners, but any player. They already know they messed up, so getting them to know it’s okay and to focus on the next one. Remind them that with practice [reps] they will eventually get it.
Improving passing form quickly as soccer beginners
The KEY for FAST IMPROVEMENT for soccer beginners is literally grab their foot with one of your hands and with the other have the ball. Bend down and have them put their hand on your shoulder, so they keep their balance. Then 5-10+ times with your hand on their foot toe up slowly swing their foot following through with the inside showing to the target and connecting with the ball. This helps teach the brain and muscles the right way to pass with the inside of the foot. Just make sure the form is correct so that the toe is up and the inside of the foot shows to the target. It really is cool to watch the effects of muscle memory!
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. So 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 them 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 chart for soccer
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. Let them score a lot of goals and don’t worry about correcting their from too much. Let them know don’t use the toe, but don’t stress it. They will grow out of that and learn to control their feet more.
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. Notice I motivate and encourage him, even if he messes up.
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. But don’t think this has to be a year round commitment at this age. Just if you have the time and money and know that your player really loves soccer. 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.
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 are hard, so if you get serious between 11-13 you’ll have plenty of time to prepare.