With school starting, you can find us outside before dinner dodging chicken poop (why do we have free range chickens!?) as we work on our soccer skills through challenging but fun soccer drills.
Truth is soccer ”drills” really isn’t the best term here.
This is really about having fun – not being a drill sargeant. Nonetheless, not only are these games fun, they’ll help you and your children increase your ball skills and improve your game.
Notice I said “you and your children”. That’s the point. As I’ve said lots of times before, I don’t encourage kids getting into team sports until 6th or 7th grade. At that point, they need the extra competition, the larger strategies of the game, and learning to work on a team.
Before then, they really need time with you.
You both need time exercising.
And they can easily develop skills by playing around with you. No super coaching needed.
Hey, and don’t worry about your skill level. Sure, my husband has serious soccer skills, having played soccer or “football” barefooted in Kingston’s mean streets for years. And as my children have entered into more serious competition in 7th grade and up, his coaching has been invaluable.
But up until then it was basic ball skills. Not much more. More important was the fact that they were running around, building their muscles and coordination.
And me? Well, let’s just say the kids chuckle as I perfect my moves. “Mom, you look so panicked!”
I played varsity as a fullback in high school – but never mastered major ball skills. (BTW, one of my biggest regrets is that I dropped out of soccer senior year – a whole post in itself!)
But I can still bring some action to a game or drill. Or at the very least, be a body to dribble around. And better yet, they see me learning and working beside them.
And – as for the benefits I experience – there’s nothing better for a 40+ year old brain and body than to try something new. I can just feel the neurons growing!
If you need to get the basics down, my son O has put together a good little post about how to kick a soccer ball and control it.
Practice that a bit and then move onto these next games – or -ehem – fun drills.
Fun Soccer Drill #1: Soccer Ball Obstacle Course
Key to playing soccer is the art of dribbling. Dribbling is how you move the soccer ball as you run. You can learn more about dribbling by reading O’s post on basic soccer moves.
Kids love obstacle courses – and there’s nothing like working around obstacles to improve your ball handling skills.
So using extra shoes, some cardboard boxes, logs, cones or whatever easily portable stationary object you can find, create a course that you and your children have to move around with the ball. Make sure you have to zig zag, go around something.
Give plenty of room between obstacles. At least 4-5 feet gives you enough room to maneuver without losing the challenge.
As you get more confident with the ball, add a few additional elements. Dribble up to a certain marker and then aim and kick the ball through a small makeshift goal. Or have them bounce the ball off a wall or large object (like a rock – ah, we have lots of those around too in our yard!) regain control and continue on the course.
Have them dribble and stop the ball, run to another marker, run back and start dribbling again or kick the ball. Or even throw in some completely different moves like 3 cartwheels before resuming ball work. Or a series of hops.
For extra fun, use a timer. Kids love seeing their times improve and comparing how they did on earlier rounds.
And need I say it again? You do it too!
Fun Soccer Drill #2: Soccer Ball Bocce
Here’s a fun drill stolen from the Italian past time, bocce.
Essentially it’s about practicing the accuracy of your kicks. And in soccer, to be good at kicking, you need to not only direct the ball in the right direction, you need to adjust the strength of your kick depending on the distance covered. Booting the ball miles beyond your teammate does not a soccer star make. A gentle touch can be just as important as power.
Set up a target ball – we have tons of old basketballs that work just great (or another soccer ball).
Have someone kick the marker ball out. Then from the same spot, have each person take a turn kicking the soccer ball and try to hit the marker ball. The person to get their ball closest to the marker ball – or hit it – wins.
You can play this as a one-round game. Or follow the bocce protocol and award a point each time to the winner, awarding the grand prize to whoever gets to 13 first.
If you don’t have enough soccer balls for everyone to have their own, get some simple flat markers to place where each ball gets to. Socks are great for this.
Fun Soccer Drill #3: Monkey In The Middle
I’ve written out the details of this fast-moving drill in another post.
However, let me just say here, this is a favorite. It’s very challenging and gets everyone moving.
It can expand to larger numbers or contract to only 3 players.
And it’s a terrific way to develop good ball handling skills and work on the defensive skills of getting the ball away from the other person.
So find a patch of ground (no regulation-size fields needed!) and work on your ball-handling skills together. Got 15 minutes before dinner prep? Slip outside for some soccer time. In our house it’s a regular pre- and post-homework break.
For your children, like all new skills, these fun soccer drills give you a wonderful way to help your children take on a challenge and have fun while marking their improvement.
For me – the mom and home business owner – it’s a welcomed way to help me get my mind out of work and focus on family time. Not to mention, it’s a brain-sharpening, thigh-trimming workout.
Bottom line, it’s a great way to exercise together.
Got some great soccer drills or activities? Please share them below!
About Sarah Clachar And Fit Family Together
Since expecting their first child, Sarah and her husband Cassius have made fitness a core part of their family life. From biking to hiking . . . from the heart of New York City to a farm in New England, they have found a way to stay active together. And through all this exercising as a family they discovered that family fitness builds not only strong bodies – but stronger families.
A professional health writer with a BA in biology, gardener and foodie Sarah brings a wealth of expertise in nutrition and health. A personal trainer and inveterate tinkerer, Cassius brings innovation to making family fitness work.
Ready to make family fitness part of your family life? Take the Fit Family Together 7 Day Family Fitness Challenge and put your own family fitness plan together.