|parent and child practice ::
Inside Soccer -- London, England
As parents we all know the many benefits children derive from participating in
team sports such as soccer.
How much children get out of participating in soccer sport, and indeed how many
years they continue to want play it, depends on learning and continuing to
develop the skills which allow them to enjoy the game while remaining a valued
member of the team.
Apart from obviously providing regular healthy exercise, these include:
Being with and making friends
Learning to work as part of a group
Communication with others
Problem solving and anticipation skills
Improved motor co-ordination and capability
With the emphasis on training parents to become coaches, the benefits to a
developing young footballer of a simple kick-about with a parent in the
localpark or backyard can be underestimated.
Setting aside regular time to play one-on-one with your child helps in the
refinement and practice of particular skills, and there is greater scope for
repetition than in an organised group coaching session.
Target practice - Pick an object as a target and stand the
player a certain distance from the target, the adult twice that. The winner is
the first player to hit the target a set number of times.
Barefoot dribbling - Set out ten obstructions in a row and
get the player to dribble the ball through them in either barefoot or socks.
Incentivize by timing each run. Helps develop a feel for the ball.
Basic control - Start by rolling the ball and getting the
player to stop it with the instep of the foot. Graduate by bouncing the ball,
first low enough to be brought under control by the feet, then high enough to
bring in thigh and chest trapping.
Juggling - Bounce the ball and get the player to flick the
ball up to catching height with the central (laces) part of the foot. Repeat.
Then ask them to flick the ball up before it bounces. Progress by introducing
both feet, thighs and head. Incentivize by trying to better tally.
Heading sit-ups - Adopt the sit-up position with knees bent.
The ball is thrown in an arc and the recipient sits up and heads the ball back
as powerfully possible.
Volleying - Identify a spot on a wall that when hit causes
the ball to bounce back in the air. The player returns the ball on the full
using both feet.
Quick return - Position the player a short distance away with
his back to you. Throw the ball at varying heights, calling turn on release.
The player returns the ball first time using whatever part of the body
Distance passing - Create a three station triangle
approximately 40x40x40ft. The receiver takes position at the apex. The player
loft passes the ball to the receiver and sprints to opposite station to receive
the return. Repeat.
Football Tennis - Station one player each side of an
obstruction the height of a tennis net. The object is to return the ball over
the net as in a game of tennis. The number of bounces allowed depends on
ability. Incentivize by keeping score, 15-0, deuce etc....
Bend it like Beckham - To bend the ball from right to left,
practice striking the bottom half of the right side of the ball with the inside
of the foot. To bend from left to right, strike the bottom half of the left
hand side of the ball with the outside of the foot. Introduce obstructions to
bend the ball round
Studies by academics and youth sports bodies have concluded that the principal
reason children drop out of competitive football is perceived pressure exerted
by ambitious and overly-competitive parents and coaches. Losing becomes
synonymous with failure. Individual expression, and ultimately enjoyment, is
Remember the primary objective of taking a ball into the backyard or to the
park is to have fun, an opportunity to set aside some quality time together.
Tips and demonstrations are often helpful, but avoid replicating the more
formal structure of coaching they receive at club or school level.
Encourage the child to create their own games around skills they want to
improve. By doing so they take ownership of their own development and the
parent becomes a partner in fun, not simply a touch-line spectator they fear to
Reprinted with permission from Inside Soccer
Dr. Javier Perez - Content Manager
European PhD, MPhil, MSc (Dist.), BSc (Hons) UEFA PRO Spain & UEFA A