Soccer is a terrific sport for kids. As Kids Pro Soccer points out, it’s a children sport that doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment, the basic rules and moves are easy to learn and it’s a sport that doesn’t incur a lot of injuries. Soccer is a worldwide sport, too, making it one that crosses language and culture barriers. It’s a fun social activity that provides exercise and teaches teamwork along with hand-eye coordination skills. Additionally, unlike football, soccer is an Olympic sport. Soccer games are activities that the whole family can get involved in, too, and it’s not a sport that’s dominated by one gender, so it’s among one of the best sports for schools.
Sports Illustrated for Kids tapped Wayne Rooney, international soccer player, to glean some soccer tips for kids. In parts of the world outside of the U.S., soccer is better known as “football,” and Rooney is known as an international football superstar. Having started when he was 16, Rooney has played more than his share of soccer games. His top tip for soccer kids is to never give up. Determination and hard work are required if a kid is going to master the skills and the game, and they should always be encouraged to give it their best. Also, Rooney reveals that training in other sports can be useful for youth soccer. He trained in boxing in addition to soccer and found that the elements of fitness training in general along with circuit training and the footwork he had to learn was useful in soccer games.
Tips from Kids First Soccer begin with starting practices and games with warm-up sessions and ending them with a cool-down. Dr. Daniel Frankl says that using ball control drills are a terrific way to get warmed up and prep kids for thinking soccer. The warm-up should gradually progress from drills such as juggling, passing and dribbling to more intense activity to get the blood going. Dr. Frankl recommends avoiding sprints, kicking and punting, but a few short sprints will serve to get kids’ blood pumping. Take kids through a stretching session before the warm-up and lead them through a proper cool-down for at least 10 minutes after practice or a game to help their heart rates safely return to normal.
Kids Health rates safety tips at the top of the soccer tips list. Most soccer injuries are minor, but playing with an attitude of safety will give your soccer kids the best possible chance of getting out of a game unscathed. Prepare your kids with the proper gear including soccer cleats, mouth guards and shin guards and soccer socks for holding them in place. Inspect the field and the goals before any practice or game to ensure that there is no dangerous debris on the field, such as broken glass, and that the playing surface is fairly even and doesn’t have any holes, rocks or other obstacles. The goals should be securely anchored to the ground and the posts should be padded. Go over the rules of the game with your kids frequently to ensure they know them by heart. Make sure they know proper play techniques and let them know that if they feel ill or in pain, it’s OK to sit out the rest of the game. Playing through pain or illness can lead to more serious health issues which may sideline your soccer kids permanently.