Practice Makes Perfect: Soccer Training for Kids
Here are some of our favorite-at home drills to get your child ready for soccer.
This is a great way to teach kids to focus on controlling the ball while moving. Set up cones in a line or zigzag pattern. Have your child start at one end and kick the ball through the cones to the other end. Have he/she focus on keeping the ball close to them while moving through the cones. Once the player becomes more advanced, he/she can still do this drill but have the player try not to look down at the ball.
This is a great for the whole family to get involved! Have each family member form a line with distance between them. The player at the end of the line will begin to kick the ball to the next player in line and so on. Once the ball is at the end of the line, that player will then begin to kick the ball back in the other direction. Once your family gets the hang of it, you can have them move farther apart or change the pattern into a zigzag pattern.
This is a fun and energetic way to get the whole family moving! You will have your family form a circle with one member in the middle. The players will then begin to pass the ball to other players in the circle and try to keep the player in the middle from getting the ball.
Sharks and Minnows
Have one family member in the middle of the field. This person is the shark. All other players will line up with a ball on one end of the field (these are the minnows). The minnows will dribble the ball down to the other end of the field, trying to get passed the shark. If the shark kicks their ball, then that minnow is out until the next game starts.
The aim of this drill is to improve your child’s reflexes and get better at juggling the ball. Have your child stand between 1 and 3 yards away from the wall. He/She will use the wall to bounce the ball back and forth. To make things more difficult, have your child use his/her thigh, chest and different parts of his/her feet. Keeping good balance and staying on his/her toes will help keep the ball in the air for longer while teaching your player proper weight and touch to use to maintain constant control over the ball.
This drill is designed to improve your child’s stamina and balance. Place the ball in front of your child and have him/her jump on and off the ball without allowing it to roll backward. This drill might sound easy, but it is actually quite hard to master!
With your child’s kicking foot on the ball, jump and place his/her other foot on the ball while removing the kicking foot. The key is work quickly. This will improve your child’s stamina while also challenging his/her balance and control.
Having fun is the key to a players’ success! Make sure you do not over-organize and dominate home practice. This can destroy the player’s enjoyment of soccer. If we take the fun out of soccer for young athletes, we are in danger of the youth athletes taking themselves out of sports. Our goal is to make soccer a sport that children will enjoy for a lifetime.
By Anne Schneider, Program Director for Aquatics and Sports, Four Rivers Family YMCA