Monthly Archives: February 2012

Feb 15

Should Your U12 Specialize In Soccer?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

specializing in one sport

Specializing in one sport may not be best for your child

This question has been going on for a long time. It will continue to go on and completely covering it is too much for a blog post. It’s more like an entire book worth to do it justice.

However, this article about specializing for youth sports was pretty good. It was nice to see that it got some national exposure.

I doubt that it’s going to have much of an effect. But maybe it will.

One thing, I notice is that  a lot of the national soccer organizations limit the time on the pitch that younger players can have. But as the kids move up in ages and in ability, more and more time is required.

The same is true for swimming, football, baseball and volleyball.

I’ve always felt that specializing in one sport is a bad idea. Besides the injury issues (which this article points out), there are the psychological and developmental ones as well.

The best athletes have always been good at a host of sports. Probably because they played a bunch of them when they were kids.

I’m thinking of Freddie Adu, who was an amazing soccer player as a youth, but has had a difficult time taking his game up to the pro level. He’s doing better now, but I wonder if he had more experiences in other sports if it would have given him a better background to be successful at the highest level.

It is a tough decision for parents and athletes to make. There is a lot of pressure coming from all sides. Whatever decision you and your family make, keep the interests of your kids at the foremost.

A lot of the overuse injuries discussed in the article can be dealt with by a complete fitness program. My program shows parents and coaches how to develop complete athletes for any sport, including soccer.

Whether you decide to do every sport in the world, or just specialize in one, it helps to be a complete athlete with strength, balance, speed, agility and endurance. Most coaches don’t know this (they should).

Order my program today and start bringing out the athlete within your child. Click the link to develop your child’s fitness and strength.

Feb 15

What Speed Should Youth Soccer Players Run?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

typical style of soccer running

Typical type or soccer running: jogging with poor form

Most soccer coaches have their kids run at three speeds.

1. All out 100% sprints.

2. Jog slowly.

3. Stand around.

What young soccer players (and older ones too) should be doing is running at different speeds. This is four three reasons.

First, it develops all the physiological pathways. The neurological, the cardiovascular and the muscular systems will be all be trained. To only run at one speed will not have as big effect on all the various systems. The players will be stronger and in better shape.

Second, during a game they run at different speeds. They need to use the different speeds they will use in a game. If they don’t they will tend to get more fatigued and make more mistakes.

Third, running at different speeds can help teach proper technique. Slow running, teaches poor technique. All out sprints, reinforces poor technique.

Now, I’m not saying that soccer practice should be a track practice. There are lots of ways to have the athletes put in runs of various speeds.

For instance, they could do a series of ball control or passing drills in one corner of the pitch. Then they run at 70% to another corner and perform some other drills.The next time they switch positions, they run at 80%. Increase the speed each time they run.

I was watching a high school JV practice the other day. One thing I noticed was that the girls did not run well. They lumbered as they warmed up and they lumbered as they scrimmaged.

By taking a few minutes each practice to develop and refine their running technique, they would be much faster. They would also be in much better shape.

To learn how you can have your team or child be fitter, stronger, faster and a better athlete, click the link or go to www.athleticskillsforsoccer.com and purchase my ebook. It is loaded with techniques that will turn your youth soccer player into an athlete and grow their skills.

 

Feb 14

Soccer: Aerobic Fitness and Ball Control At the Same Time!

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

These two skills don’t seem to go together for youth soccer, do they? Aerobic fitness and ball control skills.

kids running around a track

These kids need some running technique instruction as well

Aerobic fitness makes you think of lots of slow, medium paced running. You think of kids running for 30 minutes a day…or maybe doing a couple of miles a day.

And improving ball control makes you think of kids passing the ball back and forth with very little movement. Certainly, not enough to get a workout in.

Then how could these two skills be combined?

There’s at least two ways.

Alternating Skills Method

The first is to alternate them. First, do a run. Then come back and pass the ball a few times. Then repeat.

This method has thousands of ways to mix it up. Different types of runs, different passing drills. You could include soccer fitness exercises as well as agility drills or speed work.

One advantage of this method is that it is fairly easy to implement. Once the team understands the drills they won’t need too much supervision.

If there are a lot of kids, then break them up into two groups. One group runs, while the other passes. You can work with the passing group while the others run. Then switch. This let’s the coach work individually or with small groups while the other kids are being efficient.

Combined Conditioning Method

The second technique requires a little more planning and probably a higher level of skill than the first.

This technique is to combine them at the same time. For instance, while running they will pass the ball back and forth. They pass side to side, forward/back, left foot/right foot, instep, etc.

Because they are moving and passing, they have to have more skill. It is a much more challenging technique. They could also be doing different type of individual ball control skills such as juggling, cross-over, dribbling, etc.

The run might be for distance, but encourage them to have a certain number of foot touches on the ball. Kicking the ball for 30 yards, running to it and then kicking it again, does not develop ball control skills.

Of course, to be truly aerobic this has to take place for a longer period of time. I recommend five to fifteen minutes.

Both of these ways simulate game conditions much more than just working on running or passing. Because they will be more fatigued when passing they will find that at the end of the game, they will have greater skills.

Another advantage is that it is more fun and challenging. Let’s face it…most soccer players don’t look forward to running, running and running.

For more soccer training tips and drills, go to www.athleticskillsforsoccer.com. There are over 100 articles on how and what to do to help youth soccer players become more athletic, more skilled, and have fun at the same time.

Coach Ron Usher helps kids achieve their athletic potential in any sport. If your child or team is looking to improve their athletic skills and thereby improve their sports skills, then go to www.athleticskillsforsoccer.com and pick up his ebook. It’s loaded with practical, fun and effective ways to improve your child’s fitness. Click the link!

Feb 14

Strength Train for Youth Soccer?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Strength training is for all kids who play soccer.

Maybe not for every soccer player

This is a common question. A lot of coaches, parents and people who like to give advice, think kids should not do any strength training.

“It will stunt their growth.”  “They will get hurt.” “Kids don’t need to exercise, they get all they need on their own.”

All of those reasons are false. As a matter of fact, they are the opposite of the truth.

1. If they don’t exercise, their growth will be delayed. Their bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and neurological systems won’t develop as fast, as far or as well as they would from steady, consistent exercise.

2. If they don’t exercise and do strength training they are more likely to get hurt. Strong bones, tendons and ligaments are less likely to break or get injured than weak ones.

3. While this might have been true thirty years ago, it isn’t now. Most kids do not move or exercise enough. They sit indoors and play video games. They sit in the classroom for 6 hours a day. They don’t do chores, farming or even run around in the park. (If your kid is getting outside every day for two or more hours on their own, consider yourself VERY lucky!)

Strength training comes in many forms. It could be standard calisthenic exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and squats. It might be running or even swimming. It could be performed with weights or kettleballs.

It doesn’t matter what it is, but it needs to be done. Of course, a well designed and complete program is best, but anything is better than nothing.

Are you ready to help your child or team improve their fitness? Whether for soccer or baseball or even just general health, being strong and fit is part of what every child should experience.

To learn how to improve your child’s fitness and strength, click the link now. “Athletic Skills for Soccer” is a complete program that teaches parents and coaches how to work with kids to develop complete athletes. The kind of athletes soccer teams want.

Yes! I want to learn how to develop my child’s soccer fitness!

Feb 13

Some Soccer Coaches Think Kids Don’t Need Fitness

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Is fitness needed for youth soccer?

Some coaches think soccer fitness is not important

I was reading a soccer coaches forum the other day, looking for what youth soccer coaches think about kids fitness. I was surprised by what I found.

One coach asked if U11 kids should do sit-ups and push-ups during practice. The almost unanimous responses was “no”. It wasn’t necessary and didn’t help the kids play soccer.

One coach said it was OK to do it…it wouldn’t hurt them and they do it in PE so it’s not the worst thing.

I was surprised. First, in most of the PE classes I observe (which is a lot), the kids don’t do a lot of fitness and conditioning. If they do, they don’t do it well and they don’t do much of it.

Second, success in soccer is dependent on fitness. If you’re not fit, you can’t run, kick, jump or move quickly. And more and more kids are not fit.

All athletic movements require strength. The more fit the team, the better they do. This is true for World Cup teams…and youth soccer teams as well.

And then there’s the endurance aspect of it. While soccer demands foot work and ball control skills, just doing the drills is not going to get any one in shape. And after playing for 40 minutes, if you’re not in shape, you will get beat.

Now, I don’t believe the soccer coaches should spend the majority of their training time on fitness. But it is an integral part of being a good athlete…and soccer player.

Are you a soccer coach searching for ways to improve the fitness of your youth team?

Or are you a parent who knows that your son or daughter needs more fitness than they are getting at practice?

Then I strongly encourage you to check out my “Athletic Skills for Soccer” program. It’s loaded with exercises and progressions to develop speed, endurance, balance and agility.

They are fun to do and you don’t have to spend a lot of time. A few minutes a day will go a long way to making your team or kid a better athlete…and soccer player.

Click the link to improve your child’s soccer fitness.

Feb 13

Teaching Your Child the Soccer Volley

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

youth soccer drills

How to teach the soccer volley kick to kids

The volley kick in soccer is considered an intermediate type move. Most youth soccer players don’t do it.

That is exactly why you should spend some time teaching it.

It takes excellent balance and eye/foot coordination which is one reason to do exercises to develop the fundamental athletic skills. Leg swings are excellent for developing the balance needed. And vision drills can improve the tracking skills.

There are lots of progressions that can be used to teach the soccer volley. Don’t expect expert soccer skills immediately. It will take a lot of practice to be able to use them. But when your child (or team) masters the volley, it will provide much better play both on offense and defense.

Here are some ideas which are easy and quick to put into use…

1. Practice drop kicks for distance. The player drops the ball and lets it bounce. At the top of the bounce, they kick the ball hard using the lace part of the shoe.

2. Another variation of this drill is to drop the ball a few feet away and run to the ball. Be sure to practice with both legs.

Note: Kicking with power and distance should be done first, after a warm-up. After power, you can work on controlling and accuracy. This follows basic motor learning principals which I won’t get into here.

3. Practice passing and controlling the volley by standing about 10 feet in front of the player. Softly toss the ball so that it bounces at knee height. Players kick the ball back softly.

This drill can also be done working movement and conditioning. After a pass they can run forward, touch a line and then return for another pass.

As always, practice using and passing with both feet. As they get better toss the ball further away and with higher bounce.

Add soccer volleys to your team or child’s practice routine and watch their overall game improve dramatically.

To learn more soccer exercise drills and techniques to get fit and in shape and develop the necessary athletic skills for the soccer pitch, pick up “Athletic Skills for Soccer” by clicking the link: Soccer fitness and conditioning for kids.

Feb 11

Should You Do the Same Soccer Warm-up or Vary It?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Youth soccer players should learn to warm up

If you’re coaching youth soccer, then most probably you’re having the team do some type of warm-up. Soccer warm-ups are needed to prepare the body. And a good one will help develop team unity, teach skills and even bring out the mental skills needed to be a good athlete.

One question I often get is should we do the same warm-up or vary it. There are advantages to doing both. If the soccer warm-up is the same, the team will know the routine and there’s less chance of wasting time.

The advantage of teaching a different warm-up is that kids can work on different skills. So one warm-up could be working on passing. Another one developing ball control.

But teaching a new warm-up every day or every week takes time. And if the team is younger, it can be frustrating. Most U8 players want to play and be active. They don’t want a bunch of instruction.

My advice is to start off the season with a simple warm-up. Include dynamic movements, some strength/athletic exercises, and then ball control drills.

Examples of dynamic movements include: jumps, hops, leg swings, skips, and  running. Strength exercises include push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges.

The ball control drills should not only be passing, but there should be some active movements. Having kids stand around and pass does not simulate game situations. They kids should be constantly moving.

As the team gets used to doing the routine, you can make subtle changes to the drills. Add some more exercises or make them more challenging. Add some complications to the ball control drills.

One final point about warm-ups. They should be fun but also focused. The team should be there on time and taking it seriously. If the warm-ups are done with focus and intensity, I’ve found that the rest of the workout will tend to be the same.

Are you looking for more exercises and movements to do for dynamic warm-ups or strength? How about some speed type exercises that go great during soccer warm-up?

Then order Athletic Skills for Soccer. It’s less than $25 and will help your team become better athletes and soccer players. Click the link to go to the order form today!