Monthly Archives: May 2012

May 30

Soccer Fitness: Coaching and Parent Resources

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

There are a lot of excellent resources out there for coaches and parents. Of course, I highly recommend my ebook Athletic Skills for Soccer but there are a lot more.

I thought I’d start highlighting a few of my favorites.

The first resources which is mandatory reading is Positive Coaching Alliance. I first got into positive coaching by reading Jim Thompson’s book, Positive Coaching.

For both parents and coaches of all sports he lays out how sports should be coached. Too often we coach or parent and focus on winning. Youth sports is about effort, teamwork, sportsmanship.

The Positive Coaching Alliance has newsletters, articles, courses and member benefits to help coaches at all levels. I have always been impressed with how they are athlete centered.

Even if you don’t join the PCA, I think reading the book and his second book “The Double Goal Coach” will greatly help you with your philosophy and setting up your program.

May 30

Workout of the Day: Legs and Athletic Stance Drills for Youth Soccer

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Image of kids learning soccer

Notice the straight legs

Too many kids play soccer standing around with their legs straight. Straight legs will keep them a step or two slower than kids that have their legs bent and are ready to move.

Today’s workout is designed to reinforce the athletic stance and strengthen the legs. It will help give kids a quick first step.

Knowing what the athletic stance is and doing it during practice and a game is crucial for success in soccer.

In my bonus book “The Athletic Stance…the Foundation of All Sport Movement”, I go into detail about the stance; how to teach it and different drills to use. If you want more details about it, post a comment and I’ll send you the book.

A quick overview of the Athletic Stance is to stand with your legs bent and your head up. Your heels should be slightly off the ground and the weight on the balls of your feet.

The Star Drill is a lunging drill. You step forward with your left foot and touch the ground with your left hand. Repeat with the right foot.

Next, step out to the side with the left and then to the side with the right.

Finally, step back with the left and then with the right.

The steps should be quick.

Workout of the Day for Kids Fitness

1. Run in place for 15 seconds. After 15 seconds, hold an athletic stance for 5 seconds.

2. Star Drill. Take an athletic stance every time you return to the starting position and hold for 1 second.

3. 10 Bunny jump push-ups. In a push-up position, bring both feet as far forward as possible. After 10 come to an Athletic Stance and hold for five seconds.Return them to the start position.

Repeat this sequence three to five times.

Doing an athletic stance is a fundamental of all sports movements. Any athlete in any sport needs to be able to do an athletic stance at all times.

By doing this workout of the day, they will practice the stance, rehearse the stance from different movements and have to move to and from the stance.

It will give them the leg strength and reinforcement they need to do it at practice…and at a game.

Are you a parent or coach that is looking on how to improve your team’s fitness for soccer? Are you kids slower than the other kids? Do they lack the strength to compete?

Athletic Skills for Soccer will show you what and how to work with your kids to make them better athletes. They will be faster, stronger, and just generally more fit.

Click the link to turn your child into an athlete for life.

 

 

May 29

How to Coach Your Child’s Soccer Team

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

image of soccer coach with young athletes

Do You Coach Your Own Child?

My Athletic Skills for Soccer program is written mostly for parents who want to help their kids fitness. Coaches can (and should) use it as well.

I’ve known that a lot of parents who purchase the program are also coaching. They probably are coaching younger and beginning levels of soccer and looking at what and how to teach. I believe Athletic Skills for Soccer is a great investment in that area.

As I was researching something to write, I came across a great blog post from BaseballCoachingTips.net. It’s an excellent site with a lot of information for parents and coaches. And it’s not necessarily just about baseball. All youth sports have similar issues and concerns.

In this blog post about coaching your own child, Jack Perconte emphasizes the importance of being fair. He says that when parents coach their child, they must immediately forget that their child is on the team.

This is difficult to do but so critical. You have to have the entire team’s best interests at heart when you coach. One of the tenants of No Child Left Behind, (which I’m not a big fan of) is that all kids are teachable and deserve a quality education.

I agree, all kids deserve equal and fair treatment as athletes. Jack’s advice can be summed up in these three points:

1. Have a coaching philosophy and stay with it. Your philosophy should cover rules, discipline, playing time, and team behaviors.

2. Your responsibility is to all players, not just your child. Respect all the players.

3. Expect the same from all the kids. Don’t expect better from your child.

Coaching your own child is tough. If you’re just starting out as a soccer coach, there is so much to learn and do. Adding this to your plate could make or break you.

Do it right, and you will have an incredible experience with your child that will be cherished for years.

Do it wrong, and you could seriously damage your relationship for a long long time.

Who am I and why should you listen to me?

I’ve coached for over 30 years. My career is an Adapted PE teacher and I still am coaching high school (swimming and water polo). I coached my own son and helped him in his youth sports career. I’ve had some successes with him…and some failures. I wish I had known some of the things I’ve learned in the past ten years.

I see too many young athletes that have very little athletic skills. They can’t run, can’t do a push-up. They don’t know how to throw or have the balance to kick well.

I don’t see them getting the help by their coaches or PE teachers. So the only way I can help is to teach parents and coaches what and how to do it.

My ebook and the bonus books teaches you drills to do with your child to develop their athletic skills.

Click the link so you can begin to develop your child’s strength, speed and fitness.

Thanks,

Ron Usher

May 29

When to Teach Running to Youth Soccer Players

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

image of running legs

What is this runner doing wrong?

As a parent or soccer coach, when do you teach your kids how to run?

Do you do it at all? Most don’t. Probably because they think the kids can either run fast or they can’t.

If they can run fast, then that’s great. If not, stick them on defense and hope they get faster as they mature.

That’s not a good philosophy to have as a coach. And if it’s your child you don’t want your coach to have that philosophy.

Running is a skill. It can be taught and it can be improved. Some kids learn to run because they run all the time. But most don’t because kids aren’t running much on their own. If they aren’t running during soccer practice, chances are they aren’t running much, period.

Kids should be taught how to run at a young age. I think six is good which is when a lot of kids start playing soccer. But it’s never too late. Running technique can be taught to middle and high school students. It can even be taught to adults.

To run well and fast takes technique and conditioning. If a team is to be successful at soccer they need to have a good foundation of running. If a kid is going to be successful at soccer they too need a good foundation of running.

Let’s be honest; if you only run during soccer practice it’s not going to be enough conditioning for success. You can’t spend all the time during practice working on technique or conditioning.

However, some time MUST be spent on it…and it needs to be done efficiently.

So as a coach or parent encourage your kids to run on their own. Teach them good running form. Use some drills to practice.

And then take them out and let them run. They don’t need to run miles and miles. The best way for kids to improve is to do something frequently. Older players might want to run in the morning for extra conditioning.

The more practice they get running and the more they do it with good technique, the faster your team will be.

And speed wins. It also makes better athletes.

One of my bonus books is on how to work on technique for running. There’s drills, exercises and workout ideas for coaches and parents to use to improve running form and speed.

Combined with the strength, coordination and agility training from the entire Athletic Skills for Soccer program your kids will be faster and stronger. And faster and stronger athletes are happier athletes.

Click the link to improve your child’s fitness and running form. T

May 26

How Can I Write About Soccer Fitness For Kids?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

This is a great question. I’m not a soccer coach by any stretch of the imagination. My coaching background is in swimming and water polo.

Water polo is similar to soccer. There’s a ball, a goal, and a goalie. The object is to pass the ball around and put the ball into the cage. They are a like in those respects.

And like soccer, swimming and water polo take a lot of conditioning and training but what do it’s not really the same, is it?

Actually, they have more in common than you would first believe. And for kids, it doesn’t really matter.

Most kids who are starting a sport don’t have the necessary fundamental athletic skills to be successful. If your team or your kid does, that is awesome. You probably don’t need to be reading a lot of my writing.

But the majority of kids that I watch today, whether it be soccer, swimming, lacrosse, baseball, softball, basketball or even PE don’t have the skills to compete, have fun and take it to the next level. Whatever that level is.

And my background as a coach and a PE teacher definitely qualifies me for helping kids gain the fundamental skills such as strength, balance, agility and endurance.

Another reason I can talk about kids is that I believe that I’m a great coach. Not in wins or losses. Not even in getting kids to compete at a national level. But in getting kids to have fun, to want to improve, to keep playing and getting kids to be better athletes, then yes, I have all the qualifications needed.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Take some of the advice that I offer. Try it out with your kid or your team. Do some simple exercises to improve their running technique. See how it works.

Take five minutes a day to play catch with them. Encourage them to have fun and to challenge themselves. See what happens.

If they have a smile on their face, and want to do more, then come back. If not, try something else.

I really believe that our kids are missing out on some essential ingredients of being happy and healthy humans. At least the kids I see in the greater Bay Area of California.

I see poor coaching and teaching. I see overweight kids. I see kids that can’t run because they spent much of their youth sitting on their backsides playing video games.

I think I have an answer. Not the answer, not the only answer. But I encourage you to explore Athletic Skills for Soccer and see what it can do for your son, your daughter or your team.

Besides the fitness benefits, I think as coaches and parents you’ll also gain a better relationship with your kids. Instead of yelling at them to try harder, you can be specific and tell them what they need to do and how to do it.

You’ll also be able to give them drills and progressions which will teach them how to do it.

So to learn how you can improve your child’s or team’s fitness for soccer or any other youth sport click the link.

It is fully guaranteed. If it doesn’t help you and your kids, keep the book and ask for a refund. No hype, no B.S. The kids are worth it.

May 26

Soccer Fitness for Kids Tip: 3 Exercises With a Soccer Ball

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

As a soccer coach or parent you probably have a number of soccer balls at each practice. I think you should have at least one for each kid. By giving each kid a ball they have a lot more chances to touch the ball. A good goal is 1,000 touches a day.

Image of preschooler playing with a soccer ball

There's more ways than one to use a soccer ball!

But there are other ways a soccer ball can be used. Soccer balls make a great modality to add to your soccer fitness program.

Here are three exercise that use the ball…

1. Push-ups on the ball. Place one hand on the ball and one on the ground. Do a push-up and then roll the ball to the other hand. These are excellent because they improve the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder.

2. Planks with a ball. Put the feet on the ball and hold a plank position. The ball will create a less stable position. This will increase the use of the core muscles.

3. Sit-ups and leg lifts with a ball. Place a ball between the feet. Lift the ball up to 90 degrees and reach up with the arms to grab the ball. Holding on to the ball, lower the ball to the ground behind your head.

A medicine ball would make this more challenging but the squeezing of the ball between the legs helps develop core muscles. Having an object to grab will make it easier for younger kids and provide some measure of coordination as well.

Obviously, there are many variations that can be done. I think medicine ball type drills with a soccer ball are excellent for younger kids who need more than just foot touches to fully develop as athletes.

Have you used the soccer ball for anything other than soccer? Try these exercises and let me know how they worked out.

May 25

A Philosophy of Youth Fitness

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Picture of Michael Phelps

Most Youth Athletes Do Not Become Superstars

When I first started coaching swimming, I thought that the most important thing in the world was having very fast kids. Kids that would win at the local level and then move up to compete at the national level.

I thought all my swimmers should be superstars. Super athletes. And if they didn’t put the work, time and effort into becoming the very best, then I had two choices…

1. Change their minds and convince them they were wrong.

2. Not care about them and not care if they quit.

That was my attitude then. Now, older and wiser, I see that same attitude at every level and for every sport. It doesn’t matter if it’s swimming, soccer, basketball, volleyball or football.

The “go hard or go home” motto keeps prevailing.

What’s the outcome?

First, I think it’s done very little to push kids to elite levels of performance.

Second, I think it’s partially responsible for the failure of youth sports to provide us with a fit and healthy nation.

And finally, I think it’s mostly responsible for 85% of kids quitting youth sports at 13.

The best people in fitness work with elite athletes. They are great at getting elite athletes to even higher levels of performance.

They are even great at getting motivated athletes to improve to higher levels.

But I think they are not, nor should they be our role models for youth fitness.

Youth coaches need to take a long term view of sports, fitness and health for kids. They need to look at the child growing older and becoming an adult. They have to realize that kids grow and develop at different rates and have different potentials of ability.

Take care to nurture and foster a love of fitness and sport. Encourage effort and improvement from every kid; not just the stars.

Kids need to be pushed and challenged. But they also need to be supported, instructed and loved.

Whether you’re a coach or a parent working with your child to help them in their sports skills keep that in mind at all times.

Let’s get off the “be the best” attitude and on to the “an athlete for life” band wagon.

Are you a coach or parent who is looking to improve your team’s athletic skills? Kids today need assistance in getting the fundamental skills needed. If you care enough to teach them, learn what and how to do it. Click the link to improve your child’s fitness today.

May 25

Burpee Variations for Soccer Fitness: Workout of the Day

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Burpees are the one of the best fitness exercises for kids. They develop full body strength and cardiovascular endurance. Doing ten is difficult. Doing 20 near impossible for most kids.

One of the problems with them for kids is that they are so tough. And kids get bored with them. I like to keep kids moving by using different exercises and keeping things different. Besides hitting different neural and muscular pathways, kids are happier, more engaged and tend to perform better.

I was reading Ross Ebamait’s fitness blog the other day and he had a video of a burpee that was pretty cool. I couldn’t find the exact one on youtube, but I found it here:

As you can see, you start off standing and then drop down as if you are going to do a regular burpee. Instead of kicking your legs back, you kick your legs up high (like a mustang) and then bring them back under your body to stand up. Do these moderately fast.

For kids, don’t go until they are exhausted. Do

They are fun to do,though still tough. Because it takes a lot of power to lift the legs so high, it is very good for soccer and other youth sports. It also strengthens the shoulders and should help develop shoulder stability.

In my ebook program Athletic Skills for Soccer I have donkey push-ups but I don’t have them done with burpees.

To do these as a workout of the day, try this:

1. 5 Mustang Burpees

2. Run in place for 30 seconds

3. 4 Mustang Burpees

4. Run in place for 30 seconds

5. Keep going till you’re down to one Mustang Burpee.

The whole workout will take about 5 minutes and will get your kids up and moving. Be sure you do it with them.

 

May 24

Youth Sports: An Easy Visualization Exercise

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Image of athlete visualizing

Visualization Works for Youth Sports

I’m a big believer in visualization. I’ve always been happy with the kids when I teach it to them and I’m always happy with the results.

 

I’ve done some long progressive relaxation and visualization sessions and have always felt it was worth the time and effort. It took a while for me to be comfortable with it, but now it’s pretty easy.

However, I’ve looked for a simple one that teaches kids who important it is to visualize. My best athletes come to it fairly naturally. The newer ones and the ones with little sport or athletic background have a more difficult time.

Plus, they tend to visualize things that aren’t very likely. If they are just learning to compete, they aren’t going to win the league championship.

This is a visualization that I got off of Tony Robbin’ CD Get the Edge. I’ve done it years before and had forgotten about it. However, it works, is simple and gets the point across that what you think about has a direct impact on how you perform.

I think it would work with any group of youth athletes…even in the classroom.

This is how you do it…

Visualization Exercise for Youth Sports

Have the kids stand up and face one direction. Instruct them to point one arm straight out in front. Then they turn their body as far to the right as possible. They keep their feet flat on the ground as they turn. They should notice how far they have turned.

Next, have them close their eyes. Have them visualize turning again. Have them see themselves turning further than they did.

Also, say that it is easy and effortless. They notice that as they relax, they can turn further and further.

Then while still visualizing, have them practice this 3 to 5 times. Have them make a movie of themselves turning further each time and it’s always easy.

Next, have them open their eyes, point their arm and turn again, this time for real. They should notice how much further they go. By relaxing and imagining that they can go further, their body follows what the mind said.

Most kids will go 20 to 40 degrees further. Some might be able to go almost all the way around.

It really is quite amazing. If you don’t believe me (or Tony) try it right now. Stand up and give it a go.

There are many things that kids and teams can visualize for to improve. It could be a specific skill…it could be just having a feeling of confidence when they play or practice.

Either way, this is an powerful way for kids to experience the power of visualization.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

 

May 24

Soccer Golf Variations for Kids Fitness and Soccer Skills

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Image of girl using hula hoop for fitness

There's other ways to use a Hula Hoop

I was reading great newsletter for kids by Dick Moss and there’s a brief article about playing soccer golf using Hula Hoops. I use Hula Hoops all the time as an adapted PE teacher. I also use the concept of golf in various forms.

The technique is simple. Place 9 Hula Hoops in various positions about the field and kids practice kicking the ball to the hoops. They add up the number of kicks and the lowest number wins.

Pretty simple and easy to set up. Keeping 9 Hula Hoops around takes up some space but it’s not too bad.

But let’s talk about some variations to try. This can make the game much more difficult and also bring in a bunch of soccer fitness and conditioning skills as well. Since I’m writing this off the top of my head, my goal is to come up with 10 variations.

Soccer Golf Drill Variations for Fitness and Skill

1. At each station kids have to do an exercise; burpees, push-ups, squats, etc.

2. Instead of counting the number of kicks, time the kids. The fastest one wins.

3. Work with pairs. They have to have a certain number of passes between each player before they score.

4. They have to use a different soccer kick between the hoops; right, left, instep, running, bounce, etc.

5. Place hoops in difficult locations; next to a tree, hanging from a tree, on a bench.

6. Kids have to move a different way after they kick the ball; backwards run, skips, carriocas, jumps, gallop, etc.

7. The soccer ball has to land a certain way in the hoop; roll, bounce, stop exactly, or land in the air.

There you have it…seven variations that are pretty easy to do, set up and provide a fun game break during practice.

If you work with your child, this is a great game to play as well. Take the Hula Hoops out to the park and play it this weekend. I bet all the kids will want to play!

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