When your kids learn how to play soccer, they learn so much more than how to kick a ball across the field and into a goal. As your kids learn soccer skills, they gain confidence, they learned coordination and balance, they learn endurance, they learn problem-solving skills, and they learn how to work as a team. Enjoying soccer gives your child a common bond with 3.5 billion humans across the planet– more so than any other sport in the world. This common thread allows them to see past cultural difference and have greater tolerance and acceptance for people of different lifestyles and backgrounds throughout their entire life. There are so many reasons that soccer is an incredibly valuable skill for a child to gain.
If you find yourself in the coaching position of your child’s soccer career, you may feel under-qualified if you aren’t a soccer player yourself. You don’t have to be David Beckham to help your child learn how to play soccer. Many parents who coach soccer themselves do not have any professional soccer training. They just appreciate the game, and want to teach their kids a great skill. If you are trying to help your child learn how to play soccer, soccer camps are a great tool for helping them learn the discipline and techniques. Beyond that, we’ve put together a list of tips for helping a child learn how to play soccer even if you aren’t a pro:
- Let your lack of experience be a strength to your coaching style.
Think of the most difficult math class you took in high school. Many times, it’s not that the teacher did not know math, it was that the math concepts were so second-nature to them that they didn’t understand it was foreign to you. Let it be an asset that you are learning to teach soccer as your kids are learning to play it. Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Get the soccerball out and practice right alongside of your child. Watching you struggle, and overcome your own physical setbacks is a huge encouragement for young players.
Don’t stress yourself out because you have never played soccer competitively yourself. Most parents who coach soccer teams are in your shoes. You are an excellent teacher to your child and his team, you just need to know what skills need to be taught, and how to convey them.
- Get coaching on being a coach.
The biggest aspect of being a successful soccer coach is not playing soccer well yourself, it is knowing how to teach it. There are a lot of great training programs that will teach you how to coach soccer, and you can also find supportive tutorials online as you go.
- Practice does not always make perfect.
Let’s say you’re trying to teach a child a new soccer skill: effectively kicking the ball, dribbling, receiving air balls, etc. If they’re doing the technique incorrectly, having them do it over and over will not help them get it right. By repeating the skill incorrectly, they are simply reinforcing their bad habit. Set that skill aside and work on something else, and then come back to it and start fresh later.
- Slow and steady wins the race
When you try to jam too much information in the kids’ heads too fast, they feel overwhelmed and don’t engage. Work on one new skill each week, and spend approximately half of the practice reinforcing previously learned skills. Keep the sessions in which they are learning something new short, so that they don’t get burnt out. Make sure that your rewarding the children for putting forth effort, not for getting the right result, so that they stay encouraged.
It might feel like your progress is very slow, but if you develop a learning plan over the course of 3 to 6 months, you’ll know that you’re on track.
- Don’t lose the forest for the trees.
Above all, your primary goal should be to teach your child to love the game. Make the time that you spent teaching your child soccer enjoyable, time that you both will cherish for the rest of your days.
Do you have any tips for helping kids learn to play soccer? Please share them in the comment section below.