Coaching Soccer for Kids – Part I: Introduction
As soon as they can walk, they can start kicking a ball around. At age 4, they can play in recreation leagues. It’s never too soon to start becoming familiar with a soccer ball.
The key skill you want to teach at ages 4-5 (level 0) is dribbling. Use a size 3 ball. The ball size should be in proportion to their leg as a regulation size 5 ball is to your leg. Dribbling is running with the ball at your feet. It is not kicking the ball and chasing it; rather, it is soft touches with your feet to keep it close. And, it's running, not walking.
As the child gets older, watch and suggest trying to use both feet, and using both the inside of the foot and the outside. You want to discourage them using their toe for anything; but be careful not to discourage anything early on, wait until you see them getting very good before correcting this as not only is it very difficult for them, but also you want to foster a love for the ball and sport.
At level 0, you are successful if by the end of the year they can show that they can dribble down the field in the right direction. Most kids will be able to do this; only the very shy, or,
lazy assed non-physically active kid will still be struggling with basic dribbling at the end of the season. So, there are other things you can teach as they progress. (see Part II)
What you don't want to teach at level 0 is spreading out and passing. What happens is they will listen… all of them. Then, the team you are playing will be like a stampeed of wild bore running through you. The one exception would be for that ringer; the one kid who looks like he could help out the U.S. world cup team. You might be able to tell him to pass the ball off once in a while; but, he is an exception and these articles are geared toward the norm.
Practicing passing one-on-one in your backyard with your kid is great. So, by all means, teach them to pass. What won't work is trying to line up 4 year olds with the… never mind, I've said enough. (Go and try to line up twenty 4 year olds; and make sure someone is shooting video.)
At ages 6-7 (level 1), you can introduce spreading out and passing the ball. It comes quickly at this age. By age 8, they are even doing fixed plays and learning defensive tactics. Personally, my coaching skills are limited beyond this age due to lack of experience.
Comments and suggestions welcome.
(Next – Part II: Level 0 Practice & Drills)
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