Playing Soccer With Your Kids

Posted on Jul 28, 2012 in Coaching Youth Soccer

By Coach Dan

Of course Ice cream at Little Man is always a winner after a hot day in the park with your kids!

Yesterday I decided to take my daughters Eva (8) & Juliet (6) to the park to try some new soccer drills and play some soccer with them. All in all, we had a blast!

After the 90 minutes of play, I was reminded of the following…

1. Sadly, in this country MOST kids do not have the benefit of being surrounded by a soccer culture. In fact, they do not play many sports at all without being in an organized environment. Video games on their own?, “yes,” sports?, “no”. When I was a kid we went out and organized games on our own, sometimes in the street, sometimes on a field, and sometimes in the basement of our parents’ houses. My girls are young, but I wonder “How can I encourage them to get outside and organize games with their friends on their own?”

2. With some guidance and some participation from their parent(s), kids can have a lot of fun, learn how to improve, refine and develop their soccer skills.

3. Parents can get some really good exercise playing with their kids!

I will leave point “1” aside for now-let’s talk about the good stuff…points 2 and 3…

Our Warm-up Session

My daughters and I played a few dribbling games, passing games, a juggling game and an “awareness” game-all with the soccer ball for about 45 minutes before we played an actual soccer game. Admittedly, a few times they asked “when can we play soccer?” when the warm up drill/skills game we were playing did not seem all that fun, but for the most part we stayed focused, smiled and even laughed during this time playing together.

The dribbling game we played was “double-double-this-that” which you can watch at this link to video. We practiced juggling with a bounce in between juggles when needed-and even practiced a juggling “lift”. I then had them work on a new passing drill I am going to introduce to my 9 year old team this fall that I am very excited about. Lastly we played an awareness game called “rock-paper-scissors” that they loved.

The fact that I have been coaching professionally for over 25 years helps, but the truth is I simply focused on fun, encouraged them and guided them while we played together. When they acted a bit bored or disgruntled I reminded them that in just a few minutes we were going to scrimmage.

The Scrimmage

I was left with a challenge: How do I setup a truly fun and challenging scrimmage with my 8 year old daughter, my 6  year old daughter and me? We are all 3 at different levels, and they are on the uphill climb of their soccer playing abilities while I have been on the decline for quite a while.

With a little creativity I was able to design a scrimmage where I got some good exercise, my 6 year old was challenged at her level, my 8 year old was challenged at her level, and most importantly we had a lot of fun.

Rules of the game:

1-We played with a size 3 ball. It is most appropriate for the younger player, and it is a good challenge for the older players.

2-Rule to help the 6 year old learn and be successful: During the run of play, if the 6 year old did a fake and move, I had to immediately drop down and do a push-up before I could play again.

Yesterday, we focused on the Rivellino (inside stepover). If she did a Rivellino I had to drop and do a push up before I could play. Only the first time per-possession that she performed the Rivellino did I have to do the push up. As a result, she would do the move and then either accelerate around me quickly to score or pass the ball quickly. This teaches her that when she does a move she needs to do the next thing quickly, and she has success at the next thing because I am on the ground for a few seconds.

3-Rule to help them both learn how to work together, read the game and be successful: Per possession, if either of the girls made a pass I had to immediately do one push-up before I could continuing playing. This encouraged passing and then receiving the ball quickly and going for goal before the defender (“Dad”) got back up.

When my older daughter saw me trying to guard against her passing she recognized at that moment she should fake the pass and take it herself to score. Which is exactly what I want to her to learn in a game situation-how to “read the defender”.

4. The girls did not know this, but I gave myself a rule that I had to “nutmeg” them before I scored a goal. (“Nutmeg” means to pass the ball between their legs while dribbling, passing or shooting the ball)

You can adjust the game however you want to. If I was in better shape I might make myself do 2-10 push-ups before I got up or added/substituted some sit-ups. I could have made rule where I had to run around the goal I was trying to score on before I could play again.

You can also adjust your requirements for the young players to use different moves, make it 2 passes instead of 1, etc. Don’t be afraid to change as the game goes on to make it more fair and more fun.

While I did not play my hardest, none of us felt bored, patronized, or over challenged. In a few years we will have to change the game so I can keep up with THEM!

The result was we all had fun, they were challenged to improve their soccer abilities and I got exercise! Of course they were also very happy for the rest of the day that they had beaten me 10-4!

Regarding point “1”:

This may not take the place of growing up in a soccer culture, but it sure beats video games!

Did I mention it was fun?