Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

Apr 13

Strength training for U8? Of course. Here’s how!

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Should U8 soccer players do strength training? Short answer: Of course.

All kids need to build their strength. Without resistance and work their bones and muscles won’t develop to their potential. One of the problems our kids have today is they don’t do enough heavy chores (when was the last time your kid bailed hay?) or even climbing.

How many pull-ups can your son do? I was horrible at pull-ups when I was 8 and I remember being able to do 5.

So strength training is recommended for kids. The best kind should be body weight exercises such as push-ups and pull-ups and all their countless variations.

The next strength activity they should do is practice carrying heavy things; rocks, people, branches, sand bags, laundry etc.Remember to make it fun, enjoyable, whacky and different. Don’t force it on them…make them want to do it.

If its functional and makes sense for them its even better.


Apr 09

U8 Soccer Fitness and Hip Hop: Part 2

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Hey, thanks for coming back. Here is the really interesting part, especially from a fitness stand point.

The Hip Hop dance moves were great youth soccer conditioning moves. They required strength, speed, and balance. They worked the whole body; legs, core, and arms. They were very athletic…and they were fun.

In Hip Hop there’s four types of moves. There’s “Toprock” which are the dance moves standing up. Then there’s “Downrock” which are are dance moves performed on the ground with your arms and hands supporting the body. The third type are “Freezes” which are poses done standing or on the ground. And the last ones are “Power Moves” which are difficult acrobatic moves.

When the performers demonstrated these moves and taught a few kids them, the school loved it. They moves were easy, fun and would develop strength, coordination, balance and speed. I thought, “that would be really cool for kids to do at home or on the soccer pitch”.

So if you’re looking for a fun way to get some rhythm and popping into your soccer program or to have fun with your soccer kid at home then look into some simple hip hop moves. Here’s a youtube video which could get you started. Hip Hop for Soccer Fitness

This was the best one I found because he broke the moves down simply and with a good progression. I’m sure there are tons more.

One final thought. You don’t have to be an expert or perfect to learn and use these moves. All you have to do is have fun and play with them with your kid. A few minutes a day right before dinner or during a walk will help your U8 soccer kid get fit.

Apr 09

What do U8 soccer fitness and Hip Hop have in common? Part 1

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

The other day I was at a local elementary school and they had an assembly with hip hop performers. As I watched the presentation there were two things that were relevant to soccer fitness and working with kids in general.

The first area was in how to talk to kids. When they got the kids involved and gave them something to do the whole cafeteria was enthralled. The kids paid attention and were very focused. But when they kept talking and talking, the kids quickly lost interest and started fidgeting and acting out.

So as a parent and soccer coach, the lesson here is get the kids involved. Use very few words and when you do provide some theater and drama to keep them focused.

Part 2 will be on the physical aspects of Hip Hop and soccer fitness. Who knows…it could change your whole conditioning plan!

Apr 08

A Quick Tip to Stop “U8 Wacky Running”

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Does your kid run kinda funny? Their arms moving all over the place and looking like a puppy running downhill? A lot of kids do (and adults for that matter). The problem usually is they don’t know what to do with their arms.

Swinging the arms side to side or not keeping them in stride with the legs is one of the most common faults in youth runners. Here is a quick solution that takes a few minutes, is fun, and can be done anywhere. Even in the car on the way to soccer practice.

Robot Arms (Kids like silly names so it makes it more fun. It also describes it well)
1. Start off sitting, though the drill should also be done standing as well. Sit up straight and tall. Feet flat on the ground, legs bent at 90 degrees.

2. Place the hands flat along the outside of the thigh. The arms will be bent about 110 degrees which is perfect.

3. Bring one hand up to about shoulder height. Keep the same bend in the elbow.

4. Now, switch positions with the arms quickly. And then repeat. That’s all there is!

Kids can count it out, make up a robot song or make robot noises. They don’t have to do a lot of them. Frequency is more important than total numbers.

Have them do this before soccer practice. Then remind them to run with robot arms. It will cue in the proper arm movement and correct the wacky running.

Have fun, and let me know how the drill works for you.

Apr 06

U8 Soccer Exercise to Improve Running

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

A great exercise that strengthens the hips and posterior chain (the muscles of the glutes, hamstrings and lower back). Raise up, hold for five to ten seconds and then switch. Repeat a few times. The hands can be under the hips or even extended over the head. Improves running and kicking!

Feb 09

The Hierarchy of Learning Soccer Skills

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

To become a competent soccer player takes a lot of time and there are many steps along the way. Skipping a step will lead to frustration and failure to advance higher up the ladder.

At the bottom or the foundation of the ladder are movement skills. These are basic motor skills such as; running, jumping, skipping, hopping, etc. Along with these are physiological conditions like strength, balance, agility and coordination.

Without the foundation down, your child won’t be able to get the next skills down.

So while you’re talking to your team about offense and defense, be sure to spend some time working basic athletic skills. A strong foundation is the key to a complete athlete.

Jan 25

Youth Sports Sportsmanship

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

This is an interesting article about a recent high school girls basketball game. Click HERE to read it.

What I find scary is that the coach says he wants to teach his girls to always play hard and do their best. I doubt if they were doing that. How could they?

Here are my top three problems with his reasoning:

  1. There was no competition, so how could his team be working hard?
  2. How does he measure giving “giving their best?”
  3. What is the real purpose of youth sports? As a teacher and coach does he have a greater responsibility to all the kids on the court…not just his own?

I can think of many ways he could of had his team working harder and not run up the score. Increase the number of passes, make the passes more difficult, use only weak handed dribbling or shots, or play two players down. Any one of these would have helped keep the score down and made his team work harder.

But perhaps more importantly, was his team helping the other team improve? Where they showing them what to do correctly? Where they showing them where to go or what they did wrong? I doubt it.

Coaches, parents and kids whether on a basketball team, soccer team or any other youth activity need to take the education and skills of all the players into account. When this is done, we will have youth athletes that go on to be athletes throughout their entire life…not just for one or two seasons.

This will happen because of the lessons learned and the friends they made.

And that’s what youth sports sportsmanship should be about.

Jan 20

Youth Sports: 5 Reasons Why Kids Should Not Specialize

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

A lot of coaches and parents disagree with me on this, but after spending over 30 years in the trenches, working with thousands of kids, I think that specializing in one sport for anyone under the age of 17 is a big mistake. Here are my top five reasons.

  1. Limits opportunities for success in other sports.
    Because kids develop at different rates and times, no one knows what type of athlete or build they will have as the mature. If they specialize they may never find the one sport which they truly love and suits their body type and personality.
  2. 95% of athletes don’t go on to play elite level sports.
    Let’s face it…most of us don’t go on to play very high level sports as an amateur or professional. By playing different sports, kids will grow up to be well rounded adult athletes, able to participate and enjoy many activities throughout their lives.
  3. Reduce risk of injuries.
    Early specialization leads to overuse injuries. By playing and participating in many sports, kids develop their entire body and muscular/skeletal system.
  4. Skills learned in one sport transfer to another.
    The concepts and skills from one sport transfer to another. The skills of defense of basketball help build the ones of soccer.
  5. Puts emphasis on fun, fitness and friends.
    My belief is that kids should play sports for fun, fitness, and friends. Typically, early specialization puts the emphasis on winning, scholarships, and money. Nothing is wrong with these values, but they shouldn’t override lifelong benefits of sports.
Dec 14

Warming up for Soccer U12

By RonUsher | Uncategorized


I love to watch professional athletes warm-up. You can learn a lot by watching them.

First, while they are usually having fun and joking around there is a sense of seriousness about it. They know that warming up will not only help keep them injury free it will do something even more important…

Play Better!

Youth sports athletes need to learn to warm-up too. A good warm-up will

  • Prepare the body for competition
  • Help prevent injury
  • Provide team bonding
  • Review instructions and game plans
  • Work on skills

Warm-ups don’t have to be long drawn out affairs. Ten to fifteen minutes for younger athletes, thirty minutes maximum for high school.

Here are five key steps to a good warm-up…

  1. Establish a routine. This minimizes organization time and will help relax athletes before competition.
  2. Start off easy and move to more difficult and activities. If they are to be sprinting during the game, be sure to include some sprint activities.
  3. Use dynamic movements. Arm, leg swings. Full body twists and bends.
  4. A little goes a long way. The object is to get ready…not get a workout in.
  5. Include a group cheer or get together. Team bonding and friendships are the most important part of youth sports.
  6. If appropriate, have designated leaders. This gives the athletes ownership of the warm-up and develops leaders.

Make warm-ups a vital part of every practice and game. It will help your athletes and your team!

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