Monthly Archives: April 2011

Apr 25

How to make any skill fun to a U8 soccer player

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Kids are cool, especially 7 and 8 year olds. They can get excited about just about anything. On the flip side they can get bored mighty fast as well.

In order to be an athlete or to be a good soccer player it takes lots and lots of practice. Lots of repetitions trapping the ball, touching the ball, kicking the ball. You can’t force kids to do it. (I guess you could but then you and I would have a lot of disagreements on the proper way to train and raise kids)

But you can make it fun. And anything can be made fun. It just takes a little bit of thinking like a kid again.

So put on your kid hat for a second and get silly. Here are five quick and easy things you can do to make any soccer drill or exercise fun.

1. Give it a whacky, silly or scary name. Instead of push-ups call them MONSTER Push-ups.

2. Make it a game or a story. Instead of dribbling around three cones, make each cone a city. They have to drive around San Francisco or Madrid.

3. Encourage them to be creative and whacky. You give them the drill…they make it fun. For instance, have them make animal noises while they are running.

4. Add something crazy that has nothing to do with soccer. We used to do a “fruit smash” drill where someone would get to throw a piece of fruit against a wall and everyone would get to see what happenes. I would pick different fruit. Besides being hysterical (and a bit of a mess to clean up), the kids remember it…30 years later!

5. Take a chance and try to use different voices or be a different character. Try giving directions as Goofy or Mickey Mouse. Or you could pretend to be an evil drill sergeant. It’s so off the wall that kids get lost in the activity and end up laughing and having a great time.

By thinking out of the box and taking chances your child or your team will end up having a great time. They will love the sport and build friendships. They will want to keep playing, practicing and improving.

And isn’t that what you want?

Apr 20

Amazing Slide and Athletic Skills

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Have you seen this slide from a high school baseball game?

It’s a pretty good display of athletic ability, though I do feel bad for the catcher.

But what I like about it is the athletic skills it displays. He had to get down for the slide and then quickly leap up over the catch. He had to time the jump perfectly to land on home plate.

This kind of athleticism takes a lot of time and work to develop. You get it by playing a lot of sports and being active. When you’re young you lay the foundations of strength, coordination, and speed. You develop the proprioceptive skills need to be an athlete.

If you have the foundation down then if the situation comes up you can apply the skills to make a great play.

It’s the same for soccer and for any other sport. You need the foundation.

If your kid needs some help laying the foundation down, then it’s up to you to help them. Athletic Skills for Soccer shows you how to get started on it. Will they be able to make great plays like this?

I don’t know. I do know that if they don’t have the foundation down, they will not be able to.

Click the link to get your copy of Athletic Skills For Soccer and start building the athletic skills necessary for soccer today.

Apr 18

What I learned video taping a U12 elite player (Part 1)

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

This weekend I video taped Darci, a U12 soccer player for Youtube, marketing, and product development. I hadn’t worked directly with kids at her level before and it brought back a lot of things I had forgotten. (Doesn’t that always happen?)

First, I want to thank Darci and her parents for letting me video and use the tape (should be up by the end of this week). She was very smart, helpful and easily coach-able. I think we made a lot of progress.

One of the things I wanted to do was to have her run a 100 yard dash for time. Then we would work on her running skills and then re-time her. I wanted to show how much faster running correctly is.

Now Darci is a pretty good runner. She puts a lot of power into her strike and did not overstride (one of the biggest mistakes kids do). Her arm swing was fair. I thought she could do a better job of leaning forward from the ankles as well as improve her leg recovery. She also landed a little flat footed.

So we worked on the running drills I cover in P.A.S.S. running. Some of them came very easy to her. But when we combined them, oh boy, was it tough for her. The combining brought forth all sorts of coordination problems. At slow speeds or broken down she was fine. As soon as we picked up the pace and started moving it got very difficult.

So the first lesson I learned was that these drills are not learned quickly or overnight. Even outstanding athletic kids don’t pick everything up right away. It takes time.

I should have known this from when I was doing personal training with young athletes. What Darci went through, we would spend a month on (once a week with daily practice).

So the take-home lesson for you as parents (or coaches) is not to cover too much at one time. Do a little, let their bodies and minds process it and use it. Come back a few days later and work on something else.

Soccer fitness is not developed overnight. Rushing it does not help. Stay tuned for Part 2 and what happened on the timed run.

Apr 16

Brazil and Youth Soccer

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Here’s an interesting article on why Brazil is so good in soccer.

Two reasons U8 soccer parents and coaches should pay particular attention to.

The first is that they play soccer all the time and on different surfaces. They play on the beach, in the street, at the gym and on grass. This gives the kids a lot of practice experiencing different looks and feels of the ball.

All those different repetitions (I call them modalities) add up and give players a huge advantage.

The other reason is that they don’t emphasize winning, especially at a young age. Kids need to play for fun, friends and fitness. They don’t need to worry about winning.

So take your kid to the beach, the park, the street…heck even in the kitchen. Let them practice with different sized soccer balls (as well as under inflated ones), tennis balls, footbags or hacky sacks. Encourage them to play, to move and to explore.

They will have more fun and more success for a longer time.

And that’s what it’s all about. Don’t you agree?

Apr 15

Charlie Chaplin and Youth Soccer Training: How Can Charlie Help?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

What in the world could Charlie Chaplin and soccer training for kids have in common?

Charlie Chaplin wants to be your kids soccer coach!

Well a lot actually. You see Charlie had a way of making every day things funny and clever. He took a different spin on mundane things.

Exercise can get boring too. Let’s follow Mr. Chaplin’s lead and see how we can make exercise more fun.

Four Ways Charlie Chaplin Can Keep Your Kids Motivated

1. Do the Chaplin shuffle for warm-up. The straight legs and the off balance walk are a great way to warm-up for soccer. It’s silly and goofy true, but it also develops balance and flexibility.

2. One trick you saw in every Chaplin movie was when he’d get hit in the face and fall down. So here’s how to use it in practice: One kid swings SLOW at the other students head (missing by a wide margin). The other student falls down and then gets back up as fast as possible. This drill gets kids used to falling down, getting up, accustomed to a punch coming to the head (something all soccer players have to deal with at some time), and finally, is a great cardiovascular and strength workout.

3. Same as #2, but this time when the kid falls have them roll onto their back into a back somersault. Besides core strength, back somersaults improve preconception and again require kids to go from the ground to standing which is very demanding on their metabolic systems.

4. Finally, play Keystone Cops tag. One student is the cop and everyone has to run around like Charlie Chaplin and escape. Play for a few rounds, encourage silly movements and having fun.

There’s lots of ways to make exercise fun. Sometimes you have to think out of the box like Charlie Chaplin. Now go out and have fun!


Apr 15

How is the Parthanon the Secret to U8 Soccer Success?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

The Parthenon is the symbol of strength and endurance. For 2500 years it has endured and represented the power of Greece.

Parthanon: The key to Soccer Fitness and Success






Just like the Parthenon, kids need a great foundation to reach the top and endure. For kids it’s having strength, balance, speed and coordination.

If they don’t have those skills all the ball handling ability in the world won’t help them. All the knowledge of offense and defense won’t help them.

And as they get older and get to higher levels of competition their foundation will be tested to greater degrees.

Coaches are always talking about building a foundation of success. It’s more than just learning your responsibilities in the game. It’s a matter of having the underling athletic skills so that they can continue and endure…just like the Parthenon.

The best time to start is when they are young. There is a lot for a U8 player to learn. The neat thing about developing athletic skills is it can be fun, doesn’t take much time and has long ranging benefits.

Start building your son’s or daughter’s foundation today.

Apr 14

U8 Soccer Ability and School Cuts: Related?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

How do school cuts affect soccer ability?

Well, if you’re looking forward to your child having a great PE teacher, it might get a lot harder to do. Even in the wealthier neighborhoods of Santa Clara Valley like Saratoga, Los Gatos and Campbell school districts are cutting back. You can read about it here.

PE will be one of the first to go.

It really comes down to who is going to be in charge of showing your child a fit and healthy lifestyle? If you’re counting on the schools to do it, you will be mistaken.

So reach out and start to play with your child. Do strength exercises as well as balance and coordination. Make it fun and challenging. Make it a game.

By doing these things you’ll be taking up the slack the schools left.

And to get you started on what and how to do it, be sure to get your hands on my Athletic Skills for Soccer Program. It will show you what and how to do it.

Who knows…maybe you’ll be the PE coach!


Apr 14

Not enough time to workout for soccer?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

U8 Soccer Parents: Are you one of those that think you need a ton of time to workout?

You need at least two hours right? 30 minutes to get ready, 30 minutes to stretch, 30 to workout and 30 to cool down. Yup, many fitness articles will tell you that.

Let me tell you that it is not true. You don’t need that much. And your soccer player doesn’t need it either.

Soccer skills are developed with frequency not with fatigue

It’s how often you workout or practice or rehearse that’s the most important. By having lots of little practices spaced out you’ll find that

  • They don’t get bored
  • It’s more fun
  • They will look forward to it

And for adults while thirty minutes is great, 3 minute intervals are better than nothing.

Especially if you’re doing nothing already.

So start playing and exercising with your u8 or u5 soccer player right now. Just before dinner or right before bed. Perhaps when they come home from school…or maybe every time they get in and out of the car.

Get a few minutes of practice in every day. And soon you’ll find both of you making the time for more.

Apr 13

Strength training for U8? Of course. Here’s how!

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Should U8 soccer players do strength training? Short answer: Of course.

All kids need to build their strength. Without resistance and work their bones and muscles won’t develop to their potential. One of the problems our kids have today is they don’t do enough heavy chores (when was the last time your kid bailed hay?) or even climbing.

How many pull-ups can your son do? I was horrible at pull-ups when I was 8 and I remember being able to do 5.

So strength training is recommended for kids. The best kind should be body weight exercises such as push-ups and pull-ups and all their countless variations.

The next strength activity they should do is practice carrying heavy things; rocks, people, branches, sand bags, laundry etc.Remember to make it fun, enjoyable, whacky and different. Don’t force it on them…make them want to do it.

If its functional and makes sense for them its even better.


Apr 09

U8 Soccer Fitness and Hip Hop: Part 2

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Hey, thanks for coming back. Here is the really interesting part, especially from a fitness stand point.

The Hip Hop dance moves were great youth soccer conditioning moves. They required strength, speed, and balance. They worked the whole body; legs, core, and arms. They were very athletic…and they were fun.

In Hip Hop there’s four types of moves. There’s “Toprock” which are the dance moves standing up. Then there’s “Downrock” which are are dance moves performed on the ground with your arms and hands supporting the body. The third type are “Freezes” which are poses done standing or on the ground. And the last ones are “Power Moves” which are difficult acrobatic moves.

When the performers demonstrated these moves and taught a few kids them, the school loved it. They moves were easy, fun and would develop strength, coordination, balance and speed. I thought, “that would be really cool for kids to do at home or on the soccer pitch”.

So if you’re looking for a fun way to get some rhythm and popping into your soccer program or to have fun with your soccer kid at home then look into some simple hip hop moves. Here’s a youtube video which could get you started. Hip Hop for Soccer Fitness

This was the best one I found because he broke the moves down simply and with a good progression. I’m sure there are tons more.

One final thought. You don’t have to be an expert or perfect to learn and use these moves. All you have to do is have fun and play with them with your kid. A few minutes a day right before dinner or during a walk will help your U8 soccer kid get fit.