When children play soccer they learn so much more than the rules of the game. They learn the value of teamwork, how to remain calm in high pressure situations and the importance of hard work. Perseverance is another key life skill kids learn while playing soccer, because anyone who watches the game will know that a winning goal can be scored in the last few seconds. Discipline is another life skill that can be learned from playing soccer, as young players must remain disciplined when the game isn't going well, and not get too excited when the score is in their favor. These life skills are picked up when the game is played and they’re also taught and reinforced while players go through training drills.
The Best Soccer Drills for Kids
Controlling the ball as you run with it at your feet is a skill that needs to be honed, and it’s important that you know how to control the ball in tight spaces so you’ll know what to do when a defender tries to close you down. Place three cones on the ground in a line two feet apart and then try and dribble the ball through without touching the cones with the ball or your feet. Try this several times getting quicker each time and use every part of your foot to control the ball. Practicing this regularly will help your ball control and improve your dribbling ability.
Controlling a ball passed to you is a skill that can be learned with the following drill. If you’re running your soccer drills with another player, ask them to throw the ball to you. They should throw the ball at various heights so that you have to control the ball with your head, then your chest, then your knees and finally with your feet. You’ll build up a rhythm with this drill as the ball is thrown to you quicker and quicker each time. This drill is very energetic so you’ll find your strength increase if you run it on a regular basis.
This next drill can be done on your own. All you need is a ball and a wall to kick it against. Unlike the other ball control drill covered here, you’re in charge of the pace at which the ball is played to you when you kick it against the wall, and you can vary the height at which it returns to you so you can practice controlling the ball with your head, chest, and feet. Play the ball with each foot either by alternating or by playing with one foot for a set period and then the other. Then kick with your favored foot but use the laces of your boot to build up your ability to control with various parts of the foot.
Even if you’re not a striker, you’ll learn a lot from shooting drills. One of the best drills requires two players. The first player squares the ball across the goal while the other runs onto it and shoots into an open net. To begin with, make sure that you hit the target. Once you’ve mastered that, vary your shots so they hit the top corner of the net, the center of the goal, the left and then the right. Once you’ve got a handle on that, swap over with your partner and you’ll get some practice passing the ball.
Possession is a vital part of soccer. The team that controls the ball often controls the game so passing accurately is a skill that needs to be honed. Teams like Barcelona show that short, accurate passes are just as effective as long balls so team up with two other players and arrange yourselves in a triangle. Now kick the ball between you, varying which player you pass to. Build up a pace that shouldn’t relent until one of you loses control of the ball. Count the passes completed and then try and improve on that the next time you play this drill.
Heading the ball can be daunting for children but if you practice it enough and you get it right, you won’t hurt yourself. With this skill, you could find the back of the net or save your team from a goal so it’s important that you practice. As with the wall drill, all you need to practice headers is a wall and a ball. If you’re allowed to mark the wall, draw a circle with chalk and then aim for it each time you head the ball. If you draw several concentric circles, you’ll be able to mark up each with a number. Every time you hit a circle, add the numbers together to get a score that can be used to judge your improvement over time. You might need someone keeping score for you as you’ll be busy watching and heading the soccer ball.