Monthly Archives: April 2012

Apr 11

The Secret to Permanently “Groove In” Soccer Skills For Kids

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

It takes a lot of repetitions to be good!

As you probably know, to be skilled at anything takes lots and lots of practice.

The current thoughts are that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. Or a 1,000 touches with the soccer ball.

Either way, with most kids not getting much outside play time and the limited time of soccer practice and the number of skills that have to be learned, getting enough repetitions on soccer skills can be daunting.

Especially with many kids today having short attention spans and the demand to be entertained. So what can a coach do so that the kids get lots of practice, but still allows them to have fun?

I’d like to introduce you to the concept of “modalities”. A modality is doing the same or similar skill in slightly different ways. By changing things slightly, it makes it more fun (or challenging) for kids. It also works with older soccer players and adults too.

As a matter of fact, modalities works with any skill. There’s an added benefit that it generalizes the skill so that it can be used anywhere.

In fact, that’s one of the problems with many soccer drills. They are learned and performed correctly in practice but don’t get used in competition. Have you noticed this?

Modalities help fix this.

By making small changes in soccer drills kids won’t notice that they are getting a lot more practice than they used to. These changes can be made for ball control drills, kicking drills and fitness drills as well.

Modalities can be adjusted to make the drill easier, harder, or more challenging. They can be used to get closer to game conditions.

They can also be used to be just plain silly. This works great for younger kids.

Only your imagination and creativity are needed to come up with great modalities. Here are some examples…

  1. Use different size soccer balls. Or even used different types of balls. Also, using different inflation pressures can be a modality change.
  2. Be sure to change partners frequently. Instead of passing for ten minutes to the same partner, pass for two minutes and then switch. Another obvious benefit to this is that the team gets to know each other.
  3. Change the direction of the drill. Funny as it seems just doing a drill in a different direction can have a big impact on if a drill is boring or not.
  4. Perform different fitness exercises between skill drills. Push-ups then pass. Sit-ups then pass. As I frequently mention the more you can accomplish at the same time, the better especially when the skill is learned and just needs to be reinforced.
  5. Change the surface or the size of the field. Try having practice on tanbark or on sand. Do some drills on a big field and then move it to a small field. Even going from small to big is a different modality.

Think about the soccer skills you want the kids to learn and how you teach it. Then spend some time thinking about different modalities you can use to groove in and practice.

Your kids will learn faster, better and be able to use the skill in a game. Let me know how it goes!

To learn how to master modalities, progressions and teaching kids athletic skills I recommend that you purchase Athletic Skills for Soccer. Click the link to to improve your child or team’s soccer skills and fitness.

And for only the month of April there’s a 57% savings. Put “Birthday” in the box when prompted on the order form.

 

Apr 10

Why Some Kids Need Help With Athletic Skills and Some Do Not

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

soccer requires strength, speed and agility

Every Kid Needs More Strength, Speed and Agility

I was talking with a friend of mine today whose ten year old son went to a speed and agility class for kids. Most of the kids in the class were high school athletes.

They were already pretty good athletes…just trying to improve a little to be even better.

We talked about my program for kids that aren’t quite athletes yet. How there are a lot of kids (the majority?) who don’t have the strength, endurance, speed and coordination yet to even benefit from a class or individual instruction.

And we discussed how kids in the bay area (we both grew up in San Jose), just don’t play like we used to. We were always at the park or the school playing basketball, football, baseball (sometimes soccer) or just running around.

Plus, we walked or rode our bikes to school all the time. Even in the rain.

As a professional in the field of kids fitness it was nice to see that someone else recognized how much help our kids need to be athletes…and even just to be fit.

My program is for parents of kids who maybe play a little too much video games or watch TV a little too much. Their kids don’t get outside and play all the time.

As parents (or coaches of these kids) perhaps you realize that you need some support and knowledge of what and how to teach to give these kids the advantages that we had.

If you do, then this is a perfect time to purchase Athletic Skills for Soccer. Even if your child is playing other sports or you just want to help them get stronger and be more fit, this is an excellent resource for you.

And it’s a great time, because for the month of April it is on sale at a special birthday discount. Since it’s my 57th birthday, I’m giving a 57% discount on the entire program.

But only for the month of April. May 1 it is gone.

If your kid is a great athlete, then this program is not for you. But if he or she needs support to play soccer or other sports then this is the only book I’ve seen that can show you what and how to work with your kids.

And at 57% it’s almost a steal!

To improve your child’s strength, speed and agility click the link now.

Apr 09

Athletic Skills for Soccer Birthday Discount

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Can You Guess How Old I Am?

First, I’d like to thank you for coming to my site and learning about my views on soccer fitness for kids.

Since January the number of daily visitors has gone up and it keeps going up. I appreciate everyone taking the time to read my thoughts on fitness for soccer and for kids in general.

April is my birthday month. And since I believe that birthdays should be celebrated for the entire month, I’m offering a special discount of 57%!!!

I have no idea what the final price will be but it’s going to be more than half off the regular price and will be the lowest I will discount the book (until maybe next year when it might go to 58%).

57% is a great number. I hope it’s a great age!

So celebrate my birthday with me and when you get to the order page put in the word “Birthday”.

You’ll get a nice discount on a great book and bonus books on how to develop your kids soccer fitness.

And I will get a nice birthday gift, knowing that someone is thinking of me!

Ron
PS…Remember the code word is “Birthday”

Apr 09

Five Step Kicking Progression for Youth Soccer

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

I was watching a Youtube video about how to kick a soccer ball. It was pretty good. What I liked best was the last two screens where the athlete is putting his body into the shot.

Kicking progressions to develop kids soccer kicking

Soccer is a game of kicking the ball. Whether to pass or to shoot, every player at every level has to be able to kick with power and accuracy. The success of your child or your team might come down to how well they kick the ball.

If you’re coaching a youth soccer team or want to help your child with his or her’s soccer skills then teaching them how to kick is going to be one of the first things you do.

This article will help you with kicking progressions for young soccer players. For advanced players, they probably aren’t appropriate as soccer teaching but they might be for warm-ups. You’ll have to make that decision.

Before starting, make sure the kids are warmed up. Dynamic leg swings are a great exercise for athletes of all ages as it works on strength, balance and range of motion.

There are lots of components to kicking a soccer ball…

  1. Where to make contact on the foot when kicking the ball.
  2. Where to place the supporting leg.
  3. How to time the leg swing.
  4. Having the balance, strength and range of motion to kick with power.
  5. Kicking with power vs kicking with accuracy. (Which one do you teach first?)
  6. How to put your body into the kick.
  7. Leg follow through and landing.

This article isn’t going to go into great details of the soccer skills themselves. It’s more about the progressions you use to teach the skills. It would take a small book to go into all the details.

Five Step How to Kick a Soccer Ball for Kids

Step 1:  Zero steps and a stationary ball. Having the ball be stationary is the first step. Young kids need lots of practice learning how to make contact with the soccer ball and their feet. By standing still and just kicking the ball, they will focus on which part of the foot makes contact with the ball.

Some kids might actually need some support on this. Holding on to a partner, a wall or a pole can take away the balance problems.

Step 2. One Step and a Stationary Ball. The focus on this step is where to place the supporting leg. The kicking leg is forward to the ball, the supporting leg is one step back. They take a step forward with the supporting leg and then kick.

For very young kids or kids that are having a difficult time with foot placement, use physical objects as targets. Have a hoop next to the ball that the soccer player is going to step into before kicking. The target helps them learn the exact position you want them in before they make contact.

Step 3. Multiple Steps and a Stationary Ball. Here, they will move back and take multiple steps. From here, there are three things to vary:

  • Change the distance they have to run to to kick the ball.
  • Run with different speeds.
  • Targets from different distances. Some relatively close, others farther away.

A note about targets. Use both goals and team mates as targets. Kids enjoy scoring goals and need to get the confidence of shooting. But there are 20 passes to every shot so learning how to pass is critical for team and individual soccer success.

Step 4. Moving ball, controlled. Now they should be fairly skilled at making contact with the ball. But in soccer, you want the ball moving, not standing still. So here the ball is rolling but controlled; not too fast and not with a lot of bounce.

The athletes can trap the ball and push it, or they can do it without the trap. I would mix it up.

Step 5. Volley kicking. The next step is to kick the ball in the air. There are lots of ways to practice this and when you get to this step, you should go back to the earlier progressions and use them with volleys.

Keep the volley slow and low to begin with. Small bounces or hops and stationary athletes. As they get better, make the passes more difficult and have the athletes moving.

When teaching any skill, it is best to break it down into progressions. Having a tool kit of progressions for any soccer skill you want to teach is something every coach or soccer parent should have at all times.

Coach Ron Usher helps parents, coaches and kids become better athletes. To learn more, go to www.athleticskillsforsoccer.com and pick up his ebook on how to make your child a better athlete and improve their soccer skills.

Apr 07

Three and a Half Keys to Coaching Very Young Soccer Kids

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

preschool soccer

How to make preschool soccer fun

There are a lot of programs that specialize in working with very young kids and soccer. For the most part, I’m impressed with their curriculum. They instructors have a lot of energy and keep it fun. The kids are active and enjoying themselves.

And parents keep bringing their kids back, so something must be working.

Not everyone has access to a preschool age soccer program. Perhaps you have a 3 to 5 year old of your own. Or maybe you’re thinking about running a camp.

Here are three keys to coaching or working with very young soccer players

1. Keep instruction very very short and specific. No explanations or lengthy details. “Run over here. Kick the ball to the blue goal.”

And if you can add something concrete and fun they will love it even more. “Run like a cheetah to the blue cone and then jump like a kangaroo to the red cone.”

2. Have lots and lots of different activities, games, balls and stuff to play with. If you are having a 30 minute class, then you need at least 10 things that you can do quickly. If one does not work, then do another.

This works great for a variety of reasons. First, preschool soccer kids don’t have a long attention span. Second, they need to be generalists; not specialists. Don’t think of your class as for soccer only. Have them catch balls, hit balls, and do general movements.

3. Teach social skills as well as physical skills. Kids at this age are learning how to take turns and be nice to each other. Have some time where they work on developing these skills or tie social skills in with the activities themselves.

3 1/2. I put this in because it probably aroused your curiosity. It’s off beat…even a little weird. Kids love different things. Have unexpected surprises, whacky names or just silly stuff. It will keep them focused.

This also works great for soccer players of all ages. As humans we love the unexpected. Having a routine is great, but we also need things that arouse our curiosity and make us laugh.

For more soccer tips, techniques, skills, drills and soccer exercises consider picking up Athletic Skills for Soccer. If you need some ideas on what and how to work with your child or a team, this is a great resource. Click on the link to get there.

 

Apr 06

Get Your Soccer Team to Stand Before You Have Them Fly

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

The athletic stance is something that cats do all the time

Teach your team to stalk like a big cat

I see so many teams working out and playing soccer. They do all sorts of ball control drills, small game drills, and scrimmages.

Kids and balls are flying all over the place. It’s like a 100 yard pinball machine!

The problem is the kids don’t know how to stand and be ready. The ball (or their opponents) go flying past them. They turn their heads to watch, but it’s already too late.

If this is your team (or your kid), then you have to teach them to do athletic stances. You have to teach them how to be in a ready position and how to take that critical first step.

Because if they aren’t ready, they won’t be able to catch-up on defense. And they won’t be able to take advantage on offense. It all comes down to being ready.

How to teach the athletic stance to kids…and make it a blast!

I was working with a young soccer player today who has some physical disabilities and has had very limited exposure to athletics, sports or even exercise of any kind.

And like most of the athletes I watch, from 5 to 18, he had a hard time moving. His legs were straight and he stood fairly straight.

It doesn’t matter what sport it is either; soccer, basketball, lacrosse, softball or baseball. Most kids do not know how to get ready to move.

So rather than go into a bunch of technical jargon which would get him more confused than anything, I asked what his favorite animal was. Of course he said, “emperor penguin.”

Talk about not being a good mover on land!

Fortunately, his next favorite animal was a cheetah. Now, those guys know how to move. So we practiced stalking like a cheetah and getting ready to move like a cheetah and exploding like a cheetah.

He got it, or at least enough of it to greatly improve his skills. And he will remember the “cheetah stance”.

So have your kids or your team practice moving like an animal (hopefully, not a penguin). Knees bent. Body slightly leaning forward. Weight on the balls of the feet.

That’s all they really need to know.

They will need lots of practice to make it a habit and to give them the strength to do it all the time. Plus, when they get nervous or in stress situations, they might revert back.

But the first step every coach or parent needs to do is teach the team how to get ready to move.

And then, like a big cat, they will be the fastest on the pitch!

 

 

Apr 06

An Easy Way to Add Fun to Soccer Fitness for Kids

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Dice can be used to make kids fitness fun

Use dice for soccer fitness for kids

One of the most important skills to have when working with kids, whether you’re a parent or a coach is to be able to make things fun.

The funny thing is kids don’t really care what they are doing. They do want to have fun and enjoy themselves.

The specific activity doesn’t really matter. Keep that in mind when you’re trying to improve their fitness.

So how can you make any exercise fun?

There are lots of ways, but a very easy and cheap technique to use is to use dice. Dice bring in an element of luck and make the activity a game. And kids (adults too) love games.

Have a series of exercises that the kids are to do. If you look at my blog posts, there’s tons of them to choose. Or you can pick up my book and there’s over 50 exercises with hundreds of variations. But you don’t need to do that.

Push-ups, sit-ups, burpees all work great. So do running sprints or doing jumps. So choose the exercises and have the kids roll the dice to see how many they are going to do.

If it’s running, you could set up cones and the number of the dice is how many cones they are going to run to.

Sure, sometimes they might roll a 2 or a 3 and it won’t be very difficult, but that’s the idea. Then when they roll a 10 or 12, they will be much more excited about doing it.

The other advantage of using dice for how many repetitions to do is that it keeps it varied. Always doing the same number gets boring. And you don’t want any part of your soccer or fitness program to be boring, do you?

So keep a set of dice with you. I also like to use the big foam dice. They work great on grass and that way, everyone can see them.

There are many ways that you can incorporate the dice in your program. Be creative and experiment. Your kids will love it!

Need more exercises and ideas for your kids soccer fitness? Click the link to order the entire Athletic Skills for Soccer program.

But perhaps you think that you always need to be increasing the repetitions to improve their fitness? While this is true for older kids (or athletes that are more skilled and in better shape) for beginning and younger athletes it isn’t that important.

They will improve no matter what they do. As long as they are doing something.