The telltale black and white ball, rubbery-soled cleats, socks pulled up high on the knee ... it can all only mean one thing: soccer season. For the soccer novice, recreational soccer teams offer a great way to learn the game without the pressures of a competitive team. If your little guy or gal is ready to join a recreational team, these tips will help you help them to do their best.
Anyone who knows anything about soccer knows that kicking is the crux of soccer playing. It's how the ball is advanced, passed and sent sailing into the goal. So preparing for the soccer season should begin with practicing kicks.
But what's the right way to learn this? Practice, practice, practice. "As I have coached, I try to tell each player that they need to learn how they kick. Only the basic idea can be explained. Everyone's foot is different; shoes are different; legs are different; muscles are different, genders are different. Each player must practice enough to understand what they need to do to move the ball from their foot to a spot - without thinking, with the correct power," says Heath Coker of REIndex.com, who has both played and coached soccer.
Before kids can take to the field, they need to know what they will be playing. Take them out to a local field and let them watch soccer teams play or practice. Not only will it be good for them, but it will educate you on the game as well. "Within a few minutes, you and your child will get a great understanding of how the game is played at that level as well as seeing how younger players swarm around the ball. Point out the basics to your child such as which goal the team is defending and which end they're attacking, where the lines are around the field and where the corner flags are," says Christopher Harris, soccer dad and founder of EPLTalk.com.
Kids won't need too much gear to get started playing soccer, but it is important that they do have the few things they need. Cleats can be purchased used and shin guards are necessary for safety. "Your child will only need minimal equipment to get started, and it does not need to be fancy or expensive. My book has a extensive section on equipment, but for young ages, it is simple to sum up. They'll need a decent pair of shin guards (most leagues won't allow them to even practice without them), a pair of long soccer socks, soccer cleats, and a ball. That's it," says Kerrie Paige, author of Soccer for Moms.
The bottom line when kids learn to play soccer: it should be a fun experience. So, encourage your kids, exalt their successes and let their mistakes just fade away. "The most important goal for a first time player is to have fun. Select a ball that the child likes. They come in all styles, patterns and colors. To a lesser extent, the same can be said for shin guards and cleats. Buy something your child is excited to put on," says Art Greene, a soccer dad.
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