Let's face it. We all have hectic busy lives these days. It can be challenging to find quality family time between work, and homework, and sports practice, and the gym, and PTA meetings. There just never seems to be enough time to fit it all in. But deciding to spend a couple of hours every Saturday practicing soccer drills with your kids will kill a bunch of birds with one stone. Most importantly, it will give you that quality time with your family, and it's super fun!
According to the CDC, children should get at least one hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. They recommend that children should also do at least an hour of cardio, an hour of muscle-strengthening, and an hour of bone-strengthening at least three times per week. You can cover all of those bases with soccer drills.
At What Age Should Kids Start Soccer?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the best time to start children in organized soccer is around the ages of six to nine. By this age, they are better able to follow directions. And they will have the attention span and transitional skills, like kicking a ball for distance. The Mayo Clinic also says that children starting at around age seven can do carefully supervised strength training using their body weight. You can do soccer drills with children younger than six, but you will have to modify the exercises to be more age appropriate.
What Are the Benefits of Soccer?
There are many health benefits of playing soccer including cardiovascular health and increased aerobic capacity. It also helps to lower body fat and improve muscle tone. It builds strength, flexibility, and endurance and it increases bone and muscle strength. Doing soccer drills with your kids will help them develop the skills they will need to play the sport.
Some of the other great things about soccer are that it is a non-contact sport that teaches coordination and teamwork. Playing soccer or doing soccer drills will also help your child to improve their concentration, persistence, and self-discipline. Soccer is a relatively easy sport to learn, and there isn't a lot of expensive equipment to buy. All you need is a soccer ball.
Why Should You Do Soccer Drills with Your Kids?
Spending quality time with your kids doing something super fun and healthy always makes for a great day. Doing soccer drills with them will not only help them to practice the skills that they will need for playing the game. It also promotes a healthy lifestyle for your entire family.
What Equipment Will I Need for Soccer Drills?
One of the great things about soccer is that it doesn't require too much equipment. For the soccer drills on our list, you will only need a soccer ball, cones, and a stopwatch.
Strength Exercises That You Can Do with Your Kids to Improve Soccer Skills
While you're working on soccer drills with your child, you can also teach them about fitness. Doing strength exercises specific to soccer will help them improve their skills, and it will also make you both healthier and stronger.
To strengthen your lower body, start at one end of the yard with your feet together. Take a giant step forward with your right foot, bending both knees at 90 degrees. You want to keep your right knee lined up directly above your ankle and your left knee will be pointed toward the ground, but not touching. Then straighten your knees and bring your left foot forward to meet your right. Repeat the movement, stepping forward with your left foot and continue the walking lunges until you get to the other side of your yard. Make sure that you remind your child to keep their head and chest up and their back straight. You should aim for 10 to 20 lunges on each leg. Take a short rest and then repeat another set.
Calf and toe raises
To strengthen your calves, stand with your feet together and rise on the balls of your feet, lifting your heels as high as you can get them. Then lower your heels back to the ground and lift your toes. Repeat that movement 20 to 30 times. Then stand with your toes pointed inward and your heels out and repeat the exercise. Finally, stand with your heels pointed in and your toes out and repeat the exercise. You can make this exercise considerably more difficult by standing on one leg and doing the calf and toe raises one leg at a time.
To stretch the front of your thighs, stand on your right leg and bring your left foot up to meet your butt. Grab your foot and hold it there allowing your quad to stretch. Then repeat standing on your left foot. To work the hamstrings, have your child lay on the ground on their back and then pull one leg toward your chest, holding on behind the knee. You can help them get a deeper stretch by gently pushing their thigh closer to their body. Repeat on the other leg.
To stretch the calves, stand facing a wall and place your right heel close to the wall with your toes on the wall. Keeping your right leg straight, lean forward toward the wall. Then repeat with your left foot. To stretch the groin, sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together and your knees open to the side. Press your knees down toward the ground and lean forward. All of these stretches should be done slowly and held for 20 to 30 seconds.
7 Soccer Drills That Parents and Kids Can Do Together
You can do all of these simple soccer drills with your children at any age. You may have to modify the exercises if your child is very young. All of these soccer drills are physically challenging, so make sure that you have a water bottle nearby and take breaks in between the exercises.
1. Warm Up Drills
When you're working with your kids on soccer drills, you should always start with a warm-up. It will get your heart rate up and get your muscles ready to play. Start at one end of your backyard and do high-knee runs to the other end. It's not a race, but you want to get your knees as high as possible when you run. When you reach the end of your yard, run backward to the starting position. Repeat this set at least three times.
Next, do three sets of butt-kicker runs. The goal is to kick your heels all the way up to meet your butt as you run from one end of the yard to the other. Then you will finish your warm-up drills with lateral training. Stand sideways and take a step to the side with your right leg. Bring your left foot to meet your right and repeat. When you get to the end of your yard repeat the drill using your left leg. Do one set stepping slowly and then speed it up, so you're running/shuffling sideways for three sets. You can make the side running more advanced by adding a grapevine pattern, crossing front and back as you travel sideways.
2. Passing Drill Using Cones
Passing is an essential part of soccer. So you'll want to do some passing exercises. Set up your cones in two straight lines, making a passing lane, and stand at one end with your child at the other. Then spend 5 to 10 minutes passing the ball back and forth. This drill will improve passing skills and foot-eye coordination. You can make it more challenging by moving the ball quicker or by asking your child to pass using their weak side. You can also make it harder by stretching the cones out, making the passing lane longer, or by narrowing the cones.
3. Passing Drill Using A Wall
You can also work on passing skills by bouncing the soccer ball off a wall. Stand 2 or 3 feet away from the wall and kick the ball so that it hits about 6 to 12 inches above the ground. Then boot the ball again when it bounces back to you. Count how many times you can kick the ball repeatedly without letting it hit the ground twice. This soccer drill will help your child learn to control the ball. It will also help them figure out how much power they need to use. If they kick the ball too softly, it won't return to their feet, and if they kick the ball too hard, it will fly past them or hit the ground.
You can make this drill more challenging by not allowing the ball to hit the ground at all. You can also use a timer and see how many times your child can pass the ball to the wall and back in 30 seconds.
4. Shooting Drill
You will also want to do some soccer drills to practice shooting. Set up the cones in two straight lines, the same way you did for the passing lane soccer drills. Stand at one end with your child at the other and have them shoot the ball at you as if you're the goalie. Tell your child to shoot at you like they are kicking a penalty kick. You can also instruct them to dribble in a few feet and then boot. Moving the position of the cones will change the difficulty level. If you move them out to increase the goal size, you will make it easier for your child to score.
You can make it harder by stretching the cones out to make the lane longer. Have your child practice shooting with both their dominant foot and their weak side. You can also coach them to where you want them to shoot the ball. By asking them to kick the ball right, left, or center, you will get an idea of which shots need more practice.
5. Dribbling Drill
To practice dribbling, you can do some soccer drills playing the game "red light, green light." For this game, have your child stand at one end of the yard. When you yell out "green!" they will dribble the ball moving forward. When you say "red," they must stop immediately, including freezing the ball. If their reaction time isn't fast enough, have them go back to the starting position. This drill will help your child with ball control and reaction time. You can play this game with more than one person and make it a race to see who can reach the finish line first. You can also use a stop-watch and time-trial the exercise, keeping a record of your child's time. You can play the red light green light game with straight line dribbling, or you can set up cones and have them dribble around the cones.
6. The Obstacle Course
One of the most fun soccer drills that you can do with your kids is an obstacle course. Use the cones to set up a path where they have to dribble forward, zig-zag, and around cones. At the end of the obstacle course have them shoot, aiming for a make-shift goal. You can make the course as challenging as you want. To give your kids an added challenge, use your stopwatch and time them. Then have them compete to beat their own time.
7. Monkey In The Middle
Monkey in the middle is a fun child's game, and you can use it with your soccer drills. You'll need at least three people to play this game. Two people will stand facing each other and passing the ball back and forth. The monkey in the middle is trying to intercept the ball. You can make it harder by allowing the person in the middle merely to touch the ball. If the monkey can block the soccer ball, then the person who was about to receive the intercepted ball will become the monkey in the middle. The exception to that rule is if the person who passes the ball makes a terrible pass causing the interception, then they go in the middle.
All three positions must always be moving. The two passing the ball must find new paths to get the ball back and forth without allowing the monkey to get it. And the monkey will continuously be adjusting, trying to get into the way of the ball. You can make the game considerably more challenging by adding more than one monkey in the middle or by adding more people on the outside to pass the ball.
Here's the Point
The whole point of doing soccer drills with your child is to spend quality family time with them doing something that they enjoy. The exercises will help your child to improve their soccer skills and their physical fitness. And they will love that you are paying attention to them and one of their interests. While there are many health benefits to doing soccer drills, remember to keep it fun. If the kids are having a good time, then they will want to do more of the activity. Starting them with these exercises when they are young makes it far more likely that they will stick with working out later in life.
Now we would love to hear from you! Tell us in the comments section about your favorite soccer drill to do with your children.