One major theme we hope to get across here is that in order to get better at soccer, your kid needs to put in work outside of official team practices. Individual training is just as big a part of improving the game, if not more so.
Here are 5 ways your kid can improve the soccer skills in your backyard, and your player won’t need any fancy equipment.
Just because your kid can do cool tricks when he/she juggles does not mean that he/she is going to be a great soccer player. What juggling can do, however, is help perfect the touch. Your child needs to be able to feel just as comfortable as he/she is juggling in the backyard as in a league or championship game. I am not saying that your player will actually be juggling the soccer ball in a game, but he/she will have to be able to control it. If your kid can juggle with ease in your backyard, then he/she will be able to control the ball much better in the game.
When juggling, try manipulating the ball in different ways. For example, need to try juggling the ball without spin, with side-spin, with backspin, and topspin. If he/she learn how to control the ball when and how your kid wants to, he/she will be able to manipulate it when he/she makes passes in a game. For example, there are times when your child needs to make a pass with backspin on it in order to keep the ball in play. Your player might need to be able to bend the ball around a defender’s leg in order to complete a pass.
Also, your kid should try to catch the ball on top of his/her foot and then start juggling again. Your kid needs to make sure that he/she is able to catch the ball on top of both feet, not just the dominant one. All of these juggling skills will help your kid in another very important area in soccer: trapping.
After your kid is tired of juggling, he/she should work on trapping the ball out of the air. Here is how to do it: kick the soccer ball as high as he/she can under control. If your child has to make a quick little sprint, that is fine. (This will also help with his/her fitness.) When the ball is coming down, your kid should use the laces (the top of the foot) to settle the ball to the ground. As your kid is settling the ball, he/she does not want it to bounce high off the foot. Also, the ball should not bounce away from him/her. Your kid should be able to perform a move with the next step; this is really the key because he/she is keeping the ball close and will be able to play quick.
As simple as it seems, dribbling is a great skill to work on in the backyard. When dribbling, your player needs to be able to think a couple of plays ahead. Your kid needs to be able to push the ball into a space where he/she can get the ball and the defender cannot. When dribbling, your kid needs to work on keeping her/his eyes up and in front of him/her, rather than staring down at the ball.
Also, if you have a dog and he or she likes to chase a ball, then your kid can use your dog as a defender. Try moves to get past the dog.
Here’s an example of a passing drill your child can perform in your backyard
Your player should start by taking a cone or another soccer ball and place it 10 yards away. This will be used to simulate the teammate in a soccer game, since a cone or a soccer ball is not any bigger than the width of a player’s foot.
Every inch counts in this exercise; if the pass is off by just a little bit, then your kid is not helping out his/her teammate. Your kid could be putting him or her into a bad situation like a 50/50 challenge.
Your player can start by passing a moving soccer ball on the ground. The reason he/she should pass a moving ball is because this is how it will be in a game. Your player should make sure he/she is passing with both feet.
After your child has hit his/her target at 10 yards, then move it back 5 yards. He/she needs to keep moving the target back till about 40 yards. Once your player has mastered passing the ball on the ground, he/she should pass the ball in the air. I would start at 20 yards away. Your kid wants to be able to have the soccer ball hit his/her target in the air, as this will simulate a perfect pass.
When your kid is passing the ball in the air, he/she should make it as easy as possible for his/her teammate to trap it. This is where he or she just has to lift a foot slightly off the ground in order to trap and play the ball quickly.
5.) Kicking a Soccer Ball Against a Wall
If you have a wall (perhaps from a garage or shed) in your backyard, your kid can use it for the soccer training. Make sure it is a brick or concrete wall because you don’t want your player to put a hole into the surface. Also, be sure there to pick a spot where there are no windows close by.
Once you have found a good wall to kick a soccer ball against, your kid can begin working on his/her skills. Your child should kick the ball against the wall with the instep of his/her foot (alternating feet) allowing the ball to bounce only once. He/she need to start out by standing about 2 feet away from the wall. As he/she gets better your kid should move back about a foot. Just need to try to get in 100 one-bounce kicks off the wall. Once your kid has mastered the instep, he/she needs to move onto striking the ball with the laces using both feet against the wall allowing only one bound before striking it back into the wall. Your child will be able to perform this skill work on grass. One-bounces were created by Brian Jaworski, the Grinnell College Head Men’s Soccer Coach.
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