Maybe where you coach or live, the kids get a lot of outdoor exercise and movement. Here in the Bay Area (California), I don’t see it. The parks aren’t full and the sport fields aren’t filled with kids on the weekends.
After school, there’s a lot of kids participating in youth teams like soccer, swimming and basketball, but they aren’t outside playing afterwards.
So as a soccer coach or concerned parent, I believe you have a responsibility of providing more fitness than just playing soccer. Here are my top five fitness exercises for kids to do.
1. Burpees: I went over these in a previous post. They build cardiovascular endurance as well as full body strength. I like the six count variation, where you add a push-up and a jump at the end.
2. Hindu Squats: This was written about here. They are tough, and develop great leg strength and endurance. They also work on balance. One thing I like about them, if done correctly they teach kids about breathing and controlling the breath.
3. Leg Swings. Leg swings are great warm-up exercise for balance and strength. Improving balance will go a long ways to improving a kids ability to kick the ball, especially with the weak leg.
4. Skiers Drill (Alternating side to side hop and balance). This is a modified plyometric exercise. It develops strength and balance. It prepares the legs for the agility and change of direction that soccer requires.
5. Chicken Walking (Kick heel up, pull through). This is a great drill for teaching running technique. The more I watch kids run, the more I realize that 1. They don’t run well. 2. Coaches don’t teach it. This drill teaches two of the key techniques for running correctly; lifting the heels and landing underneath the body, not in front.
If I was to have one more exercise, it would be the pull-up. Unfortunately, not every team of family has access to a pull-up bar. But pull-ups develop the entire back and core which is necessary for running, kicking and injury prevention.
Youth soccer requires a high degree of fitness for a kid to be successful. Some kids will have it. Many kids have to be taught how to be fit and given the skills necessary. Athletic Skills for Soccer teaches parents and coaches the fundamental athletic skills needed on the pitch and in life. Click the link to order your copy now.