Monthly Archives: June 2011

Jun 10

7 Biggest Mistakes Coaches Make About Soccer Fitness Part 1

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

If you’re coaching, there are a lot of things to work on; ball skills, teamwork, offense, defense, strategy…you name it, they need to work on it.

Soccer coach getting ready for soccer fitness time!

Maybe you think about fitness. Maybe you don’t.


I think a lot of teams work on fitness (or think they do) but don’t approach it correctly. Working on fitness will have many benefits. The kids will improve their individual soccer skills as well as their team skills faster.

They will build stronger bonds as a team, improve team communication and be able to continue as a soccer player and athlete later in life.

Not developing fit soccer players is one of the reasons kids leave the sport. And the funny thing is, it’s one of the reasons kids get into the sport.

Here is my list of the biggest mistakes coaches make with soccer fitness.

  1. Kids are already in shape.
  2. They play to get in shape.
  3. If they kids are sweating they are getting more fit.
  4. The way to get the most out of kids is to yell at them to go harder.
  5. Soccer only requires running/leg strength
  6. Kids are born with physical skills. They either have it or they don’t
  7. Be tough or go home

There are a whole host of other mistakes that are made as well . In the next week’s blog posts, I’m going to examine each one of these reasons in more detail and explain not only why they are wrong but why they…

  • Make kids quit
  • Hurt the team…and the players
  • And what to do to avoid it

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think are the biggest mistakes coaches make. Or if you’re a coach, do you agree with me? What do you do for your teams fitness?

Click the link to purchase my book on turning your kids into athletes (appropriate for younger kids and recreational teams) go her


Jun 09

A U8 soccer exercise they all should do

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Soccer player that needs more strength

A lot of kids lack leg strength today. I believe it’s because we spend too much time sitting. Sitting in front of the TV, the computer, at a desk, at a table…

Whatever the cause, kids need strong legs for many reasons. Strong legs…

  • Improve running speed
  • Help prevent injuries
  • Improve endurance
  • Build strong tendons and ligaments for future growth

To help build the leg strength for soccer doesn’t take a lot of equipment or time. And best of all the today’s exercise develops balance and ankle stability as well.And since it works on balance, it can help kids to focus as well.

It can be done at the beginning of practice, right after a warm-up. And remember, as in all exercises for kids, a little is better than a lot. Don’t do them till they fall and collapse like a poorly made cake.

Single Leg Exercises for soccer

Double leg exercises are great but they don’t develop balance as well. And for younger kids who are developing quickly, balance is idea. Soccer skills are mostly on one foot so there is a direct link to the game itself.

Here are two variations of single leg soccer exercises…

1. Single leg squat. Players stand on one foot, with the other foot slightly off the ground. Using the supporting leg, they bend their knee as far as possible and then stand up. They should remain as straight as possible. Do ten on one side, then repeat on the other.

Don't have to go so far down

Players can also hold on to an object (or even each other) for more support. They will be able to go down further.

2. Single leg toe touch. Standing on one foot, they bend down and touch that foot with the opposite arm. Then they stand up and reach overhead. Ideally, they should sink their hips before bending at the waist, but young kids will have a difficult time with this motor control.

Single leg toe touch

The exercise can be made easier by touching with both hands.

Excellent soccer skill exercise to do at home

Both of these exercises are great to do at home as well. They don’t take up much time or space and just a few minutes helps young soccer players develop the neurological and muscular control.

For more exercises like this to have all the time order my book: Athletic Skills for Soccer. It’s perfect for coaches and parents to develop their kids strength and balance.

Jun 08

Old Way/New Way Part 2

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

So, I liked the idea of “Old Way/New Way”, if nothing other than it took away the good and bad connotation of giving feedback. I liked the fact that it was more objective and less subjective.

Typical soccer kid...needs help!

I tried it with three groups. The first was a swimmer who wasn’t very good and had major stroke flaws. Lack of coordination and motor skills really sets back learning new skills so I thought she’d be a good subject.

The second was with a more talented athlete who could do almost anything and had great control over her body. She learned quickly and was always motivated.

And I thought I’d get some feedback from the whole group and play with the concept.

Here’s the results…

The first girl did better learning the skill and didn’t seem to get as frustrated which was good. Frustration slows down learning and performance. She was able to perform the new skill (improved underwater pull during freestyle) better without feedback though it never became expert.

The second girl didn’t really need it. She was very coach-able and took all instruction very well.

The group was interesting. We worked on doing butterfly the wrong way (which many of them did) and then we worked on on specific part of the stroke (the timing). I was very happy with the results, especially during the week of practice. I thought the learning curve was shortened.

Now it might also have been the difference between doing it wrong on purpose and then doing it correctly. I don’t know. And I never got to test it during competition which is always the true test to see if an athlete has learned a skill.

How would I apply this to soccer…or parenting your kid? With your child, they can be very sensitive to any perceived criticism so this takes a lot of the sting out of learning.

In a group, this would be a great way to teach skills as well as strategy. Try it with running technique first, and then expand it to all aspects of the game.

Also, if you have them do it the wrong way as I did in the group, it makes it fun and silly which is good. When kids are laughing and having fun they relax and will learn and perform better.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Jun 07

A New Way to Teach Permanante Soccer Skills Part 1

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Soccer Kid Learning New Skill

Teaching skills is one of the most difficult parts of teaching and coaching. It doesn’t matter what the s

port is; soccer, basketball, swimming, volleyball…there are right ways to do things and wrong ways.

And typically, the easy comfortable way is the wrong way. You have to teach the right way to do it..and this can be frustrating, time consuming and difficult.

There are three problems when teaching new skills.

  1. Coming up with a good progression (easy to difficult) that teaches the skill.
  2. Applying the skill in a game situation. Again, this requires a good progression.
  3. Performing the new skill and not reverting back to old habits.

The third problem can be difficult. The old way of doing a technique is more comfortable and more engrained. The muscles and neural connectors all have adapted to make this technique work.

Even if the athlete or kid wants to change, it can be very difficult. Think how difficult it is for you to change a habit. I know it is for me.

There is an interesting technique that I found while searching a few years ago. It’s called the “Old Way/New Way” technique and it originated in Australia. There’s an article about it here and the website where I originally found it is here.

The website is interesting and I think they have a good product but I haven’t bought anything. It certainly is worth exploring.

Anyway, what I learned from the site is that it requires an athlete (or learner) to recognize the old way of doing something and the new way of doing something. Then they, or the coach, repeat the words “old way” or “new way” when they are doing the corresponding activity.

I liked this instinctively, because I have problems with saying, “good/bad” or “right/wrong” for movements. There’s too many hidden meanings and connotations going on with those words. So I thought I’d experiment and see how the terms “Old way/New way” worked when teaching a skill.

Part 2 will go into the details of how it worked.

Hey, have you checked out my book on how to work with your kid for athletic skills? It works for coaches as well as parents and is adaptable for older as well as younger athletes.

Without a strong foundation of athletic skills, learning a sport and success in a sport is pretty much impossible. Check out the program to develop athletic skills whether it’s for soccer, basketball, volleyball, or just to be more fit.

Jun 06

Beyblades for kids fitness

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

There’s a very popular game at the schools these days. It’s called Beyblades and the K-4

Beyblade: Modern fighting dreidels

crowd loves it. It’s basically a game of battling dreidels.

Kids pull a chord and little gyroscoptic tops spin and bump into each other till only one remains spinning.

It’s kinda brainless…and kinda fun. I don’t mind playing it for 30 minutes or so and it’s more fun than playing Candyland.

Plus, it can develop hand/eye and fine motor skills because you can use a little tool to take them apart and customize them.

When you customize them, there are four traits that can be adjusted:

  • Attack
  • Defense
  • Balance
  • Stamina

(This can get pretty intense as this article explains some of the strategy.)

I got to thinking that these four traits make a good exercise famework. And even though playing the game is more physical than watching video games, it doesn’t compare to a thrilling game of hop scotch, four square or soccer outdoors.

So I have invented the “BeyBlade Challenge”. The way to play is to play a game of Beyblades and both kids have to perform the corresponding exercise traits of the winner.

Here are the exercises:

Attack: Players face each other about four feet away. They step forward as fast as possible with their left foot and then slap each others right hand. They then step back and repeat with the opposite foot and hand.

Defense: Players face about two feet away from each other. One player steps to the right as far as possible. The other player mirrors and both players high five. Again, alternate sides

Balance: Players stand on one leg. They hop in a 360 degree turn on one leg and then switch directions. Repeat with the other leg. Each time they come around, players feet extend and give each other a “low five” with their feet!

Stamina: Each player faces the other about three feet apart. They drop down and do a four count burpee…very quickly. When they stand, they give each other a high ten (both hands).

If your kids are into Beyblades these exercises will add an exiting dimension to their game…and get them fit as well. Who knows, maybe this sport will catch on too. And then they can be real battle masters.


Beyblade Masters

Jun 04

Raining? Improve Soccer Skills Indoors…

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Don't let rain keep you from working out

The rain is coming down here in the Bay Area. Lots of practices will be cancelled and kids will be staying indoors. But don’t let that stop them from getting exercise and improving their soccer skills.

There are lots of exercises that can be done indoors…even in a small apartment. It doesn’t take a lot of room. You can improve…

  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Endurance
  • Fitness
  • Speed
  • Ball control skills

So in the spirit of the rain here is a 15 minute exercise routine that will work on all the skills. It will be a 5 exercise circuit which will be repeated three times.

  1. Twenty leg swings (10 front/back, 10 side/side). Improves balance/flexibility
  2. 20 Squats: Hands at hips, touch the ground. For leg strength and endurance
  3. 10 Header Jumps: Jump high and pretend to be heading a ball. Game skill, leg strength and speed.
  4. 20 Mountain Climbers: Push-up position with left leg forward. Alternate legs front and back as fast as possible.Improves upper body strength, core strength, running technique and speed.
  5. 20 alternating toe taps on a soccer ball. Keep supporting leg bent. Develops ball control skills, endurance, speed.

Each exercise should take about 40 seconds which will leave at least a minute of rest. You can go through the circuit all at once or go one time through and take a longer break. The more rest you take, the more it develops strength and speed. The less rest, the more improves conditioning and endurance.

There are hundreds of combinations and variations you can do with a circuit like this. So the next time the kids say they are bored, do this with them. Put on some fast music and have a ball!

For more exercises that can be done at home, order my Athletic Skills program today. It may not always be raining, but kids always need exercise.


Jun 03

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

extend out more for added benefits

An interesting article here about Nick Tumminello (a great coach and extremely knowledgeable. Click here for his website) showing him using a Swiss Ball to perform a combination  pike and extension movement.

This is great if you have a Swiss ball but what can you do if you don’t want to take up half the space of your living room?

Or if you want to exercise with your son and the relative size of the ball makes it look like Jupiter to Earth?

Maybe you’re coaching and you want to do another exercise besides sit-ups to improve the kids core strength. What to do.

Extended Plank

A great exercise is an extended plank. Here is one version. The further out the hands are, the more difficult the exercise. You’ll also get lower to the ground.

Besides a strong core, this exercise also develops the chest and back.

Another variation is to move the hands out to the side. This one really works the chest muscles.

Kids will not be able to this for very long; five to ten seconds at first is my guess. Encourage them to practice for longer and longer times and to do them at home.

It doesn’t take up a lot of space or time but a few of these can really help develop strong bodies. And they are much better than traditional sit-ups.

Try them yourself and let me know how they worked.

Jun 02

Give Your U8 Player Strength With This Simple Exercise

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Have you seen if your son or daughter can do a push-up? I see hundreds of kids try them and most can’t do one.

You know what? That’s ok.

But what is not ok is not trying them and gaining the strength from being in a push-up position. Just holding yourself up builds shoulder, arm, back and core strength. And it can also build coordination and even ball handling skills.

When doing push-ups (or any exercise for that matter) with kids don’t demand perfect form. Be glad they are trying, keep it fun and short. It’s better to stop early than to keep pushing for more and better.

Here are five variations of push-ups which all kids can do and will improve their strength and make them better athletes.

  1. Bendys: Begin in the top position. Lift the hips as high as possible and then bring them down and arch the back. Do them about one repetition every 4 seconds. Ideally, you breath in on the way down and out on the way up.
  2. T-Push-ups: From a plank position spread the feet apart for balance. Lift one arm and point to the ceiling. Look at the hand and then replace it. Alternate hands.
  3. Mountain Climbers: From a plank position alternate bringing the knees up as high and fast as possible. Works the core and improves running as well as upper body.
  4. Soccer Kicks: Begin in the top position. Lift the right leg up and pretend you are kicking a ball to the right. Try using a tennis ball or some other target for them to hit. Do a few kicks with the right leg, then switch. Vary the locations of the kicks as well.
  5. Donkey Kicks: From the plank position, bend the knees and jump up with both feet. This is a fun exercise and usually gets a lot of laughs. I’ve had some kids (high school) go overboard and kick so high the flipped over so be careful.

Performing a few of these before practice, before bed or during commercials will have a quick and positive effect on the strength of your kid. Before you know it, they will be much stronger and fitter.

For a complete program on how to work with your child to improve their fitness, go to Athletic Skills for Soccer. Do it today. It’s almost summer and time’s a wasting!


Jun 01

A Simple Addition to Walking that Improves Kids Athletic Skills

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Taking a daily walk is one of the best things you can do for your health, your families health and fitness. I usually take two every day; one in the morning and one at night.

Walking is more than exercise

When you’re taking your U8 Soccer star out with you, there are easy and fun ways to make the walk more athletic so that they build up more strength, balance and coordination.

Because while walking is great for adults and kids, growing kids need more challenges and opportunities to explore.

One of the tricks I use in my job as an adapted PE teacher is the curb. It is an every day object that can cause a lot of my students with special needs a lot of trouble. So we go up and down, up and down many times. It builds their strength and makes them more aware of their environment.

Kids can do the same thing. Here are three ways to use curbs during your walk. And of course, always watch out for cars and traffic!

Step up and down very quickly 10 to 20 times in front of a light pole or other object. Then take a short walk or run to the next object and repeat.

  • Walk an top of the curb to improve balance.
  • While walking and balancing, perform an athletic skill; leg swings, squats, leaps, imaginary kicks…
  • Jump up from the street to the curb and hold an athletic stance  when you land. To make it more difficult land on one leg. This is a great Parkour introduction which is an excellent tool to learn how to use the environment to have fun and build athletic skills.

There are tons more variations. Encourage your kids to experiment, play and challenge themselves to find more uses. And if you got one that you really love, send it to me. I’d love to hear about it!

To learn more ways to work with your child and build athletic skills grab my program here. Remember, the best soccer players are athletes.

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