Success in soccer requires the player to have a variety of soccer skills. Such skills are acquired over time through soccer practice. Kids can learn soccer skills by participating in soccer drills that are designed specifically for young players. Such soccer drills help the kids to learn various soccer aspects.
A young, well-rounded soccer player should exhibit the following soccer aspects.
- Technical aspects – this is simply ball mastery, including dribbling, passing and defensive skills.
- Tactical aspects –this refers to an understanding of the game, that is, the way a player plans and executes the play. This includes elements such as spacing and transitioning from offensive to defensive play.
- Physical aspects – these are aspects such as speed, agility, and power.
- Mental aspects – a great soccer player should have self-confidence.
Here are some fundamental soccer skills for kids.
Dribbling is a fundamental soccer skill that every soccer player needs in order to succeed in the game. It is perhaps the most basic of soccer skills, and kids need first to learn how to dribble before they can learn more advanced soccer skills.
Dribbling is basically the player’s ability to control and manage the ball with their feet as they move within the soccer field. Great dribbling skills help players in such situations as
- Playing past opposition players.
- Keeping possession of the ball when attackers try to take the ball.
- Moving quickly from defensive to attacking side.
- Setting up accurate passes and on-goal shots.
Tips for effective dribbling
- The kids should be encouraged to make small, gentle touches and avoid making heavy touches when dribbling.
- Maintain the ball close to your feet. This helps in maintaining control and preventing the defenders from taking the ball.
- Avoid alternating feet when moving with speed.
- Keep your head high when dribbling. Use your lower peripheral vision to watch the ball and at the same time stay aware of what is happening with your teammates and opponents.
- Keep changing your dribbling speed to keep the opponents off-balance.
- Put your body between the attacking player and the ball. Use your body as a shield to stop the opponent from taking the ball.
Effective passing is a highly valuable skill in soccer. Good passing requires proper technique. Excellent passing skills will make any kid to be a highly valuable player now and in the future. Passing can be done in multiple ways. The side-foot pass is the most reliable pass that kids can easily learn.
Tips for the side-foot pass
- Use the inside of your kicking foot.
- When making contact with the ball, turn the kicking foot so that it is at right angles with the ball.
- Ensure that your shoulders face toward the direction where you want to kick the ball to.
- Keep your knee and ankle joints sturdy.
- Aim to hit the ball at the middle.
- Extend your arms to enhance your balance as you make the pass.
Receiving the ball is another vital skill that young soccer players should learn. Receiving is usually a major part of any soccer game. Kids can be taught how to receive the ball using various body parts since passes can come at varying heights and speeds.
The young players should be able to receive the ball using various parts of their body including their feet, knees, and chest.
When receiving the ball, players should aim to gain control of the ball when they make the first touch. The most effective receiving technique to achieve this is receiving using the inside of the foot.
For many kids, shooting is perhaps the favorite part of soccer. Young soccer players have to undergo multiple training sessions so that they can shoot properly. Without proper training, kids are likely to send the ball in an undesired trajectory when they shoot.
This is because they instinctively shoot with their toes. Coaches should teach the young players to shoot with the laces part of their shoes. While striking the ball, kids should be guided to lean forward and with their knee over the ball.
The majority of beginner players can only shoot the ball effectively with one foot – they are one foot dominant. This poses a challenge in soccer games since various situations in-game might require you to use your non-dominant foot.
This makes it important for kids to be taught how to shoot with both of their feet so that they can develop into well-rounded soccer players.
During shooting drills, the coach should limit the young players to shooting with either foot so that they develop the weaker foot. If a soccer player can’t use both of their feet to shoot effectively, they are likely to miss great shooting opportunities.
Shooting is definitely an essential aspect of scoring. Kids love to score in soccer. Drills that involve scoring goals can be very helpful in developing kids’ shooting skills.
Kids have to acquire defensive skills for them to become well-rounded players. Typically, kids tend to focus on offensive play, and they may lag behind with offensive skills if they are not well-trained on them.
Coaches should train the young players on how to anticipate the play so that they can guard any open players. Kids should be discouraged from simply following the ball as they are likely to do.
The young players should also be taught how to tackle the opponents and gain the ball by placing their foot or entire body in front of the ball to block the opponent’s path.
Success in soccer is also dependent on a player’s attacking skills. Such skills enable the player to compete for the ball against the opponents. Attacking skills are used together with the other skills to provide success in the game.
Attacking players should be able to make offensive play with their head up so that they can see what the opponent is trying to do. Attacking players should also be able to communicate effectively both verbally and non-verbally.
Kids should be trained on how to support their teammates and get into the best supporting angles by using the soccer field wisely. The young players should also be able to create good passing options so that the receiving teammates can have adequate time and space to play.
Attacking players should be able to change the speed and direction of play quickly and effectively so as to disorient the opponents. They should also create as many goal-scoring opportunities as possible.
Spacing and Transition
We have discussed various technical components of soccer skills development such as dribbling, passing, shooting and receiving. Let us also look at tactical components such as spacing and transition.
For young players to be successful in soccer, they should be able to move to good spaces during the game and seamlessly transition from offense to defense.
Spacing simply refers to the process by which a player makes the game big or small in order to gain a tactical advantage over the opponent. An effective soccer player must be able to visualize and implement proper spacing tactics.
Soccer is a highly tactical game, and it is important that kids are trained to be tactical so they can succeed in the game. Soccer tactics may feel overwhelming especially to the very young soccer players, and that is why it is crucial for coaches to start with the very basic soccer tactics to boost the morale of the kids and make them feel in control.
Some of the basic soccer tactics include providing pressure on the ball and exhibiting balance in both attacking and defensive play. Kids should also be trained on how to create height, width, and depth.
Young soccer players tend to instinctively chase the ball all over the pitch during soccer games and exercises. This should be discouraged since it will only make them exhausted with n desired results.
Instead, the young soccer players must be tactical with their play – they should allow the ball to run and make the opponents chase the ball.
Soccer teams achieve this by playing the ball into areas where there is no pressure and thereby making their opponents to defend. This can only be achieved by players occupying opening spaces and their teammates delivering accurate passes to those spaces.
Young players should be trained on pulling away to spaces with no pressure in anticipation of receiving the ball — the moment when the play changes from offense to defense is called transition. Good transition affords a soccer team more options and flexibility.
If kids undergo proper soccer coaching, they can develop into great soccer players. Having a positive attitude is another crucial aspect of success in soccer. Coaches should try to cultivate a positive attitude in the young players.
This can be done by making soccer drills as fun as possible. Once the kids are inspired, they will have the desire to self-improve and thereby be more committed to developing their skills.