I Want to Learn to Play Soccer
Your 5-year old child comes home from school and informs you that she wants to play soccer with her friends. After talking with other parents, you discover that the local indoor soccer league in Aurora and Naperville will start in four weeks. This time-frame will allow you the chance to introduce the game to her.
How do you assess her current skill level to determine areas of strength and weaknesses?
Does this youth league provide soccer training for novices like Wheatland Athletic Association’s Feet First Soccer , a co-ed program for toddlers and preschoolers to experience an introduction to soccer through the use of engaging, developmental activities and training equipment? Or even a more advanced program like WAA’s Pro Academy Soccer that is designed to teach young players (5-10 years old) the fundamentals of soccer in a fun and exciting environment. Fundamental skills such as dribbling, shooting, passing and goal keeping is taught, with an emphasis on skill development and ball control.
Four Pillars of Coaching Soccer
You do some research and discover various recommendations on skill developments. All the sources point to four pillars for coaching. These pillars provide a guideline on what soccer training is needed to help players master the game. The pillars are:
Pillar #1: Technical Skill Development
- Ball Control – receiving, passing, second touch
- 1 v 1 moves
Pillar #2: Tactical Development
- Learn positional roles
- Essential game elements
- Recognize other team’s tactics
Pillar #3: Physical Development
Pillar #4: Mental Development
- Decision Making
- Team Environment
Top Six Skills Needed to Succeed
Based on the coaching pillars, the skills your daughter need to succeed are:
- Dribbling – can she use both feet to move the ball along as she is running?
- Passing – can she accurately pass the ball to another player? Does she use both feet? Or primarily depends on the strong foot? Can she pass the ball with pace? Or has trouble hitting the target?
- Receiving – can she comfortably receive a pass? Or does she fumble the pass several times before gaining control?
- Shooting – does she use both feet to shoot? Or does she revert to dominate foot? Is she comfortable shooting from all spots in the penalty area? Or does she has to go to a particular spot prior to shooting?
- Spacing and Transition – does she understand how spacing helps her pass the ball better? Does she recognize when to play defense? Does she just chase the ball or deny passing lanes to open players?
- Attitude – does she really want to play soccer? Is she enjoying herself?
After your initial assessment, you can determine how to handle your daughter’s soccer training. If additional training is needed, your local youth soccer association Wheatland Athletic Association can recommend potential trainers. Remember, she does not have to be the second coming of Alex Morgan or Abby Wambach at this point. You just want a baseline of her skill set and develop an action plan to help her improve.
The overall objective is two-fold: (1) learn the fundamentals of and (2) enjoy playing the game. You want your daughter to stick to an activity no matter what it is (indoor soccer, basketball, or softball).
Her being happy goes a long way in achieving this goal!