What age is too young for soccer? It all depends on your situation, as resources and schedules play a role. Also, the variations in child personality and temperament are just as prevalent in the game of soccer, aptitude for play and learning, and development of athleticism versus natural athletic gifts. Take facts such as these into consideration. Try to get your child as many touches at home as you can.
Soccer skills training by age
Soccer is one of the hardest sports, but anyone can improve if they practice the right ways.
- Ages 3-5 won’t necessarily get ahead by playing on a soccer team… Instead get a few soccer balls inside the house to get familiar with. Tell them not just to kick it but to dribble [take small touches] so they develop skill.
- Ages 6-7 need to get the basic fundamentals down. Example: The video below is great to introduce and keep them doing for years to come.
- Ages 8-9 continue basics but also spend time passing short 5 yard balls to a wall, rebounder or partner.
- Ages 10-11 everything the younger ages do, but start to work on properly kicking long passes and shooting with power. For advanced players start working on advanced skills.
- Ages 12+ should focus on mastering short passes and being introduced to chipping, bending, turning while receiving, volleys etc. Skills competitive players should work on.
Skills training vs soccer leagues
Every parent of a club/select player over the age of 12 has figured out that at team practice you don’t improve near as much as doing skills training 1:1 or small groups.
If you’re a new soccer parent do these 3 things in this order:
- Encourage your child to practice at home before signing up for a team/league [ages 4-6]… Even if it’s just a few minutes at a time. Imagine 2 minutes in the morning, afternoon and evening everyday… 2 minutes x 3 times per day x 7 days a week = 43 minutes per week. Reason: If a kid gets a beginner coach the player will still do well if they are already familiar/comfortable with the ball.
- Playing in a rec league [Learn rec vs select] Age 6-7 is a good time to start and is when most kids play their first season. Some begin at 4-5 years old, but it’s not going to really help. At that younger age just get them to practice at home a few mins throughout the day.
- Best times to invest in skills training… If I had to pick 1 age stage it would be ages 9-12. If money isn’t an issue do 3-8 months of privates at age 6-9. Ages 10-12 do 8-12 months throughout the year. Age 10-13 & 14-18 train 8-12 months throughout the year. Whether with a good private trainer or at home doing my complete ball control courses and doing wall drills like these.
Why you shouldn’t compare your kids to their peers
Development of each player is very important – and often we see that in favor of well-rounded development focus can become shifted to comparison development.
Comparison development is very dangerous for the players’ mental and emotional as well as physical development.
Comparison will never be an accurate form of assessment as kids develop at different rates and stages, in different environments, and with varying degrees of passion displayed.
Kids can receive pressure too young and therefore experience burnout, stress, and problems in relationships with parents and coaches and peers.
Focus on fun in youth soccer
We highly recommend that in the early ages all kids’ focus be on fun.
If the emphasis is on the number of goals scored, the number of wins accumulated, or the parents discuss the other team in derogatory terms then the kids begin to associate a fun game with negative feelings.
As long as the coach isn’t a screamer, kids under 8-9 years old should have fun – no matter the score.
What age to move from rec to select
If your kid dominates in the rec league at age 7-9 feel free to find a club/academy team. Some kids want or need more of a challenge…
Too many kids end up playing club/competitive that shouldn’t…
If they’re not dominating in rec, there’s no reason to move up – UNLESS you just can’t get a good coach. But club soccer doesn’t mean you’ll get a good coach either, so weigh your options.
By age 10 start to think about making the move to rec to select… This gives you 3-4 years before high school soccer, which is plenty of time to develop and make the team.
Kids love to play soccer with family
My daughters both love playing 1v1 with me… Our garage is turned into a little indoor studio with training turf, rebounders and a rug hanging from the ceiling to kick at:)
One thing I like about 1v1’s is they get used to dealing with the ball under pressure.
Where you play doesn’t have to be fancy…
Whether in the yard or at the park – just get out and have fun. Even if it’s for 5 minutes. Time adds up and so do the memories.
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