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This is how we are preparing him to play soccer for the first time.
Beginning fundamentals and game play
Kids can’t play soccer if they don’t know the rules. Even though they will learn them from their coach, it is good to give them a general idea of the sport before showing up on the first day. They don’t need to be a soccer star on the first day of practice but teach them how to kick the ball appropriately, make goals, and that they are only allowed to use their feet. This way they will already know the basics and will be better equipped to learn.
Set up two soccer cones to make a goal. We set ours pretty far apart for now to get him used to kicking the ball toward a designated target. As your child gets better, put the goal cones closer together. As they get even better, have them start to practice with a net.
Practice ball control
This part is tricky and will take some time. In addition to our goal cones, we set up two cones for him to kick the ball around and through. This is his favorite part of practicing and he is already getting faster.
Just like when he rides his bike, protection for his head is non-negotiable. If he isn’t wearing protection on his head, he doesn’t play or ride. Period.
Head injuries are a big deal. We are just beginning to scratch the surface of finding out how much is too much when it comes to head injuries, so high-quality head gear like the Storelli ExoShield Head Guard is a must. I love the Storelli ExoShield because it is small and lightweight. This way Dub will wear it instead of arguing about it. Plus it looks pretty cute, too!
If it’s good enough for world-class soccer players in the English Premier League and Champions League, then it’s good enough for us. It comes in sizes 1-6 to fit a wide range of head sizes from children to adults. Dub just turned six and wears the size 2 perfectly.
Age appropriate gear
Don’t buy the first soccer ball you see in the store. Get a soccer ball that is the right size for your child, not an adult-sized ball. For my son, we got him a size 3 ball for children age 8 and younger. For children ages 8-12 you would use a size 4 ball. For teens and adults, a size 5 would be right size ball.
In addition to the right ball, get some small cones for practicing footwork, a net, cleats, shin guards, and of course, head protection.
Most importantly, make game time fun. Point out all of the things they are learning and progressing on instead of what they are doing wrong. Let them play for fun since odds are slim that they will be the next David Beckham.
That’s it! Now your child will be ready for their first day on the soccer field and will be well protected. Enjoy the game!