Sometimes coaches and parents get too focused on specific sport skills.
Sure, soccer uses the feet, knees and body to control the ball but developing the coordination of the hands will improve soccer performance as well.
I believe the better an athlete is at everything, the better they will be at one thing. This is especially true for younger and developing athletes.
Tennis balls are a lot of fun to catch and throw. It will help with hand and eye coordination as well as visual tracking skills.
In the drills I will present shortly, they use both hands so you’re also working on integrating the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Besides improving bilateral coordination, this also helps with reading at school. Pretty cool, right?
Here are some drills to be done as a workout of the day. They can be made more physically challenging by throwing some bodyweight exercises in between. But it’s not necessary; sometimes workouts should just be fun and easy!
Tennis Ball Drills for Soccer and Youth Sport Fitness
1. Toss the ball up in the air and catch it Willie Mays style (palm up so that it falls into the palm). Try to see how high you cat toss it. Can you spin a 360 and still catch it?
2. Toss the ball up in the air and snatch grab it. Toss right, catch left. Toss left, catch right.
3. Bounce and catch the ball, alternating hands. Try walking and catching. Walk backwards. Bounce it between the legs and behind the back.
4. Toss the ball up, bounce it off your knee or foot and catch it again. Try it with both legs. Use it like a Hacky Sack and see how many times you can bounce it off your feet or knees.
5. Throw the ball against a wall to practice fielding. Catch it with your weak hand, throw with your strong. Throw for speed, not accuracy (kids develop power first, control later).
6. Play handball against the wall with an opponent. We did this in high school and could have played for hours. It’s a great workout, very fun and competitive.
As you can see, there are lots of ways to use a tennis ball to develop athletic skills. Spend a day or a week working on the tennis ball skills and see how well it transfers to soccer or any other youth sport.
Does your child need more athletic development? Imagine how much better they will perform when they’ve improved their strength, balance and coordination. Click the link to learn how you can improve their athletic skills today.