What Parents Should Know About Kids Soccer

Many parents sign their kids up for soccer because the parents seem to be the nicer of the sports’ parents. Football parents do get a reputation of being rough. Even sports like Dance seem a bit competitive especially with the television show “Dance Moms” being so popular. While it comes down to the team itself, there are some things that you should know about kids soccer before you sign your kids up. Or, some things that you should know are completely normal if your kids are already signed up.

1. You may think the coach is the leader: The parents are.
There may be speeches from the coach about how HE/SHE is the coach and the leader, but at the end of the day, the parents run the show, or think they do.
2. Parents have teams and they play sides
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Big Brother, then you know how people can take sides and then switch sides pretty quickly. The same thing happens with kids soccer parents. One will get mad because their kid was pulled from the game, another will get mad because someone else’s child got more field time. It’s going to happen.
3. If you’re a brand new parent and it’s your kids first game, you are a guest
You might want to walk in loud and proud and show how confident you are. Believe me, we know you are confident. However you are on someone else’s turf. Before causing any issues, just act as though you are a guest. You may or may not be approached by another parent. You could introduce yourself, if you’d like. But remember, no overwhelming rule making. That’s a way to become shunned right off the bat.
4. The goal is to make friends
I felt this was an important one because the last few have really ditched parents. It isn’t that they’re bad. Especially when it comes to kids soccer, they are just very protective. You are too, I think, so you’re all on the same team to protect your children. When you think of it that way, it makes the fact that they seem so strict more understanding. You’re going to make friends with parents, hey, if you’re the organizational type, you might have some team picnics. Remember, your child having fun is the main goal. However making friends with the parents isn’t only good for you, it gives you some legitimate people to look out for your child if you aren’t there.
5. The coach is a coach
The majority of coaches are there because they want to be, not because they are paid to be. Remember that even though parents THINK they are the coach, the coach is the leader. The more he/she is pulled aside and questioned on decisions he’s making, the less time he can coach the kids. Putting your kids in soccer is an exercise in trust for the parent. You have to trust another adult to teach your child and keep your child safe.
Kids soccer is a fantastic way to get your kids involved in a team sport that keeps them active. They’ll also hopefully meet some friends and get a jump start on learning how to effectively communicate and play with other kids. Soccer also teaches children good sportsmanship which is a great thing to get a hand on at an early age. Overall, soccer is a great sport, full of learning capabilities, and an idea sport for the kid who likes kicking the ball with friends, and for parents who enjoy cheering their kids on from the stands.

Common Soccer Injuries to Look Out For

Soccer – a game that’s known to people all over the world. People of all ages participate in soccer at some point in their life. It may be as a kid, during school and college days and even beyond playing for your county, city or country. There is practically no bar when it comes to playing soccer – as long as you are fit and love the game, there’s always a match or a tournament going on for you to participate. Yes – soccer is that popular – both at the professional and amateurish levels.

So, whether you play with your friends, in your college or school team or at the national and international level, there is something that you should always look out for, and that is the soccer injuries. Soccer is a fast-paced game that can often lead to injuries, especially to the lower portions of the body, and it is vital that you take proper action to ensure that the injuries are properly treated. When left unattended, these injuries may become grave and even hamper your day-to-day activities.

List of common soccer injuries


This is, clearly, the most common injury that affects most soccer players. Spraining an ankle during a soccer match is so commonplace that most players do not even consider it as an injury. Nevertheless, the sprain needs to be treated immediately and care must be taken as well.


A hit to the head causes concussion and often occurs in high-tension matches. The severity of the effect depends on how hard or how directly the player gets hit and also with what. A head-to-head bump may not be that dangerous, but a blow with a ball may be highly dangerous to the player.

Hamstring injuries

This is another common injury that is associated with most sports that require fast running and can affect the player in different ways. The muscles at the back of the leg (or the hamstring muscles) may get pulled, be strained or even rupture and the severity of the injury decides what treatment is needed.

Achilles Tendinitis

This is mainly an overuse injury and causes chronic pain at the rear portion of the ankle. Proper and immediate treatment is necessary to prevent the rupture of the Achilles Tendon.
Muscle Cramps
Muscles cramps are as common in soccer as sprains and usually, affect the calf muscles. Though they are usually not extremely serious, yet treatment must be immediate to eliminate aggravation of the issue.

Plantar fasciitis

Players often complain of a dull pain in their ankles and feet, and this is referred to as plantar fasciitis – a situation that is caused by the tearing and inflammation of the plantar fascia that exists in the sole. Though it is very common, yet healing is possible, and the player can soon resume his/her activities smoothly. Most players wear special orthotics for plantar fasciitis to help alleviate any pain or discomfort on the field.


Fractures occur commonly during soccer matches. Though the majority of the cases involve fracture of the leg bone, ankle, feet and other lower extremities, fracture of the upper body portions isn’t uncommon. Collisions or unwanted ball blows may cause a fracture to the forearm, lower arm, ribs, jaws and even the skull. Immediate medical care is necessary.

Skin injuries

From minor cuts to awful gashes – everything can occur on a soccer field. Though most skin injuries require immediate but light medical attention, deep injuries like skull lacerations require full medical attention.

Stress injuries

This type of injuries occurs only to players who make it to the grounds daily or on a regular basis. The injuries occur mainly due to the overuse of the body muscles, tendon, and bones and if proper care isn’t taken, the overused, ill-maintained areas may get injured over the time.

Shin splints

Overuse of the muscles surrounding the shin bone of the lower leg usually weakens these muscles which is why they become inefficient in shock absorption. As a result, the area may become prone to stress injuries and cause inflammation of the lower leg along with excruciating pain that can put you out of the game.

Groin injuries

A strain or pull to the groin occurs mainly when the inner thigh muscles get pulled beyond their extreme limits.

Knee injuries

The knees are one of the most affected body parts when it comes to soccer players and obtaining a knee injury can have a very wide impact on your possibilities as a soccer player. Knee fractures and injuries like anterior cruciate ligament pull or sprain can be very dangerous. The severity of the injury on the ligament foretells the type of treatment that you would need and your recovery possibilities. A sports physician must be immediately referred to, and playing mustn’t be resumed until fully cured.
So, here is a list of the very commonly occurring soccer injuries that a player needs to be aware of – on and off field.

Why Kids Love Soccer

There is an indefinable mystique that surrounds the game of soccer. Nearly the entire world loves soccer. They don’t just like soccer; or enjoy soccer; they have a passionate, almost aggressive adoration of the game. It is little wonder that some degree of that affection rubs off on their children.

But the reason that kids love soccer goes beyond simple osmosis. Kids love soccer because it has an intrinsic magnetism that starts attracting people from a very young age and grows stronger as the years go by. What is it about the sport that makes it the most popular game in the world and has given it such a universal language among kids of virtually every nation for generations?

Why so popular?

Nearly three times as many people watch the World Cup each year than do the Super Bowl. But it’s not just watched worldwide; it’s played worldwide. From the most desperately impoverished country in Africa to the gold-plated streets of Dubai; from the sun-parched roads of the Middle East to the thin air of the Andean mountains, kids can always be found kicking around some form of a soccer ball. The sport is ubiquitous; how can it not be popular?

It is highly accessible

Most elementary and middle schools, even in the baseball and football weighted United States, offer soccer as part of its sports curriculum. Otherwise, it is available as an extra-curricular part of the school’s offerings. National and regional programs can also be found. For instance, the organization Kidz Love Soccer has been providing soccer camps and classes for the Western United States for over 30 years.

One of the greatest reasons why kids love soccer is because it is such an easy game to learn at an early age. Children as young as three or four can be introduced to the sport through local schools and community programs. And as the children grow, so does their skill level. Professional soccer is such a highly-skilled game that it can take years or even decades to play at that level. So it is a sport that can keep kids “in the game” for years beyond their high-school education.

Benefits of kids’ soccer

Aside from the established fact that kids love soccer, there is much good that can be derived from getting the young ones involved in this sport. It’s great exercise. There is a lot of running in soccer, and running is an excellent way to blow off some of kids’ seemingly inexhaustible energy supply. It’s a highly social game. The children often go to the same elementary schools, but they also get to make new friends; and their parents also make friends with other parents. As mentioned, it is an easy game to learn as it doesn’t require nearly as much hand-eye coordination as baseball or football. But it certainly helps in improving that coordination. Also, it is a team sport and it gives kids the opportunity to learn how to work together to a common end. But probably the biggest benefit, especially from a child’s perspective, is that it’s just plain fun!

Soccer is a fulfilling game on so many levels. It’s true that not everyone can be a Pelé—or more currently, a Lionel or Cristiano—but everyone can be a Josh or a Dylan or a Peyton or a Sadie. Although some may aspire to greatness, being great is not why kids love soccer. It’s because they can be themselves and embrace what they are, and have fun doing it. It is little wonder why, even on such an elementary level, soccer is known as the Beautiful Game.

The Qualities I want my Soccer Team Captain to have.

I recently wrote an article about the tasks I give my soccer team captains. The article, ” 15 tasks for a soccer team captain “ , is only talking about tasks. In this article I’d like to tell you a little more about the qualities I want my soccer team captain to have.

I’d like to start this article with telling you that the criteria I use to pick my Soccer team captain depends on the age of the team. At a young age I think it’s good idea to make all the players team captain by turn. So every player has the experience of being the soccer team captain. Some player will like to be the captain and some won’t. That’s no problem for me, I want all of them to try it. I think it helps their development and understanding for the captain. If a player did the job once, the will respect their soccer team captain when they are older. Until the age of U12 I’d like to rotate team captains. After U12 I will select 2 or 3 players who will be the team captains. I select the Soccer Team Captains on different kind of qualities.

Football iu 1996.jpg

A Soccer Team Captain needs soccer qualities.

One of the first thing I look at are the soccer qualities of the players. It doesn’t make any sense to me to have a team captain who is on the bench most of the time. He/She won’t be able to guide the team because he/she won’t be on the field. So my soccer team captain is a player who is playing most of the games. The position in the field is for some coaches a hot topic but not for me. The goalkeeper, left defender or striker, it doesn’t matter to me. Of course it is an advantage when your team captain is playing in the centre of the field so he/she can easily communicate with all the other players on the field, but it’s not necessary in my opinion.

A Soccer Team Captain needs a good work ethic.

A Soccer Team Captain is the example for the team. Because other players wants to compare themselves to the team captains, the need to have a good work ethic. If your team captains aren’t working hard on practices and during games, it almost allows the other players to do the same. I’d like to have a Soccer Team Captain with a lot of persistence. A player who won’t give up and always keeps going. This is something I want him/her to do on practice and in games. My captain has to be a player who is a fair player. He/She should know the unwritten fair play rules and always give the right example.

My Soccer Team Captain needs to keep up with our team agreements.

As I just explained in the previous part about the work ethics, the soccer team captains need to set the example. This also applies on keeping up with the team agreements. If the team captains aren’t following the rules, why should all the other players do so?  I want my soccer team captains to be “good guys”. They have to be the example in everything, so work ethics, keeping up with the team agreements and in behaviour. I don’t like to see my captain arguing with the ref or with the opponent. I don’t want my team captains to talk back to me on the field and give me an attitude.

At the right time, the Soccer Team Captain needs to give his opinion.

I just told you I don’t want my team captains to talk back to me on the field. But I also want him/her to give their opinion. This will probably sounds conflicting, but the key is where and when. I really value the opinion of my team captains, but not on the field. On the field everything has to be clear and with an argument this won’t get clear. But of the field, after the game or before a practice, I really like to know what my team captains think about certain issues.

The Team Captains have to be accepted by the other team members.

Last but definitely not least, the soccer team captains have to be accepted by the other team members. A team captain is a leader, someone who is in charge when the coaches aren’t there. Someone who other player have to listen to. So it’s really important the other players are accepting the team captains as their leaders. Some people call this a natural leader. Maybe that’s right, maybe there are some player who will be accepted straight away as the leader. I think this is one of the most important qualities a soccer team captain needs.  

How do you think about picking a Soccer Team Captain? Do you rotate or is the same player your captain? Please let me know what kind of qualities you are looking for in a captain by commenting!

How to do a structured pre-game speech.

You have to play a game with your team and you want to give a pregame speech. The first question you have to ask yourself: “What do I want to tell my players?”. With this article I provide a structure to you. If you will use this structure you will be sure that your pre-game speech makes sense.
Soccer, Coach, Football, Soccer Team, Outdoors, Boy

I recently wrote an other article about the pre-game speech, ”10 Tips to make your pre-game speech stick”. If you are able to combine these 2 articles your pre-game speech will definitely help your players!

Start your pregame speech with some general information.
The first part of the pregame speech you have to give the players some general information. Who do we play against, what is their position in the league. Have they scored a lot of goals and did they get a lot of goals against them scored? Just some basic information. I always tell something about the weather and the field. If the field is real dry this inflects the dribbling possibilities. I also ask the players some questions about the last game we played. What went well and what didn’t?

Tell your players about the opponent, in a structured way!

The second part of the pregame speech is not for every coach. If you are coaching on a lower level or have no access to this kind of information, you can just skip this part. If you have played against your opponent before you can use that information.

Tell some about their system of play. Whether they play in the 1-4-3-3 system or the 1-4-4-2 system makes a huge difference. This information a critical. After telling something about their system you should tell how the opponent tries to attack. An example you can tell them: The opponent tries to pass the ball behind our defence and pick it up with their quick offence. Tell your players something about the strengths and weaknesses of their offence? After telling something about the offence of the opponent their defence is the next subject you talk about in your pre-game speech. You are telling the same kind of thing you did in the offence part. How do they try do defend? Maybe they play full pressure or just the opposite. Tell something about the strengths and weaknesses of their defence.

After you handled these key points you can choose to tell some additional things. You can tell about the strengths and weaknesses of their transition, remarkable point in their game and how they handle set pieces.

Tell your players about their own team, in a structured way!
After telling your team something about the opponent now it’s time to tell your players something about them. If you haven’t told your player anything about the opponent, that’s no problem.

You should tell them in this part of your pregame speech only thing about your team. Explain tasks to them. I always try to relate our strengths and weaknesses to the opponents. You are just going to do the same subjects as you did in the opponent part. So you start with telling something about your formation. Does your team use the 1-4-3-3 system of play or the 1-4-4-2 (or any other one)? You can announce the line-up and substitutes. After that tell something about your offence. So if you told something about the opponent try to relate it. With this strength we can take advantage of these weaknesses of the opponent. In this part you should be real concrete. Give the players tasks they understand.

After talking about your offence you will do the same with for your offence. So if you can, relate it to the opponent and give the players concrete tasks. An example of a concrete task can be: If the goalie is having the ball I want you to go wide, 5 yards from the sideline. After this part you can choose to tell something about transition en set pieces.

A short summary of the point your pre-game speech
You should keep this structure so your players start to recognize the pre-game speech and the points you will cover:
– system of play
– Offence, strengths and weaknesses
– Defence, strengths and weaknesses
– Transition, strengths and weaknesses
– Remarkable points
– Set pieces

At what age do you start with a pre-game speech?
If you keep the structure, you can start at a young age with a pregame speech. You always have to adjust the speech and structure to the ability of your players. So if you are coaching an u12 team you might want to only do the defence of the opponent and the offence of your team. That’s just it. If you see the pre-game speech is helping your players you can start adding other parts to your speech. So you can build up the speech so your players won’t get overwhelmed.

I’m kind of curious how you build up your pre-game speech. Please leave a comment and tell me and all other Great Soccer Coaching readers.

filed under: game speeches
Tagged with: game speech, pre-game, pre-game speech, pregame, pregame speech

How to Use the Instep in Soccer

Passing is an integral part of soccer at any age and/or level.

The movement of the ball on the soccer field is used to try to pull the opposing players out of their intended position ultimately creating more space and time on the ball for the receiving player. It is also used to try to fatigue the opposing team’s players making it more likely they will make an error. Therefore, mastering the correct technique to pass the ball using the instep is critical to a players success.

First, let’s go over the basics involved in passing the ball with the instep:

  • Position your standing foot directly in line or slightly behind the soccer ball with the toes facing forward.
  • Position your passing foot at a 90-degree angle so that the instep is facing the ball.
  • Slightly bend the knees to increase flexibility and balance.
  • Place eyes on the ball after target has been identified (this becomes less dependent the more skilled the player).
  • Lock your ankle so that the connection with the ball does not change the angle of your foot.
  • Push through the ball and follow through so that your foot is aiming in the direction of the intended target.

If all the above steps are followed then this in-step pass can be mastered.

liverpool_footballer_steven_gerrard1Now let’s look at a variety of different ways this technique can be utilized in a game.

  • A pass to a teammate on the floor and directly to their feet.
  • A pass in front of your teammate for them to run on to.
  • A cross from a wide position that an advancing teammate can attempt to score.
  • A shot on goal by accurately directing the ball to a position the goalkeeper cannot reach (bottom corner of the goal).

As you can see by the above examples, this passing technique can be used in a variety of ways. By mastering this technique and becoming extremely effective and efficient at using it can make a soccer player consistently good, which is a coach’s dream. An example of a player that has mastered this technique is Xavi of Spain and Barcelona. Xavi’s passing accuracy is tremendous and by mastering the technique of the instep he has become one of the world greatest players.

I would encourage any player regardless of age or ability to practice this technique repeatedly and to try to set personal goals to achieve a level of success. The good thing about this skill is all you need is a ball and a surface that will return you the ball. However, please be warned that using the side of the house may result in parents becoming extremely frustrated (taken from experience).

What To Eat and Drink Before Soccer Games (and What NOT to)

Putting the wrong fuel into a car will cause it to under perform or even cause it to be stranded roadside. The same is true for athletes in regards to the consumption of food and liquid. To perform at maximum efficiency, athletes should eat and drink certain types of food on match day and for that matter the days leading up to a match.

What to eat

Players should consume plenty of carbohydrates such as potatoes and pasta. You may also want to include some easily digestible protein sources such as fish and chicken. Be sure to mix in with some vegetables such as broccoli, which is rich in iron. These give your body the proper energy needed to go hard for ninety minutes. After training you need to replenish your glycogen levels within two to five hours of exercising. The best way to do this is eat plenty of carbohydrates. The body stores carbohydrate energy in the form of glycogen for when needed. Also, if possible, some Glutamine and Arginine vitamins throughout the season will give you some added nutrients. You can find those at your local Wal-Mart for $3.Three days prior to a match, players should start carbo-loading. This translates to eating meals that are about 75 percent complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are in cereals, grains, fruits, and vegetables. On match day, an easily digestible meal high in carbs and low in protein and fat should be eaten three to four hours before kick-off is scheduled. This will optimize the actual energy available to the player during match.


What to drink

It’s no secret players should drink lots of water, particularly before and after training sessions. Players can lose seven pints(or four liters) or more of water during a match and will need to rehydrate right away. In addition to water, isotonic drinks containing vital nutrients and sugars are particularly easy for the body to absorb. There are many varieties available at your local grocer but to simplify it this should consist of an equal measure in fruit juice and water.

What to avoid

You should avoid anything containing caffeine, such as tea and coffee, as well as alcohol and junk foods the night before your match. Don’t be a sucker for deep fried foods and potato chips either. Also, it’s probably best to not consume dairy products and fatty and high sugar foods.

Soccer Warm Up

For those of you who have read the blog before, you know what MAP stands for (Mobility/Flexibility, Activation and Precompetition).

I created The MAP System about 9 months ago, which means it was Spring here in Sweden, and the weather was pretty good.

The program first consisted of Mobility and Flexibility exercises, followed by Activation exercises, then followed by some running, hopping and skipping drills.

Fast forward a few months and we are in the middle of the winter. Should you really start doing exercises like hip circuits and spiderman stretches when it is -5 degrees Celsius (sorry guys, I don’t do Fahrenheit, but I think that’s like 20 degrees Fahrenheit)?

The reason for performing a good warm-up is to get the players ready for practice, and to optimize performance. And to get ready, you need to loosen up, increase core temperature, activate your muscles and get your feet going.

However, when it is snow outside and it’s freezing, one reason becomes extra important: increasing core temperature.

Now all of a sudden we need to make sure the players don’t get cold, and by doing stretches and mobility exercises first thing – that will definitely get them cold.

So just a while ago I started thinking about this and experimenting a bit. Experts all over the world have thoroughly divided the warm-up into different steps, and you should follow these steps at any given day. Sure, science is one thing, but real-world situations is another.

One section soccer players really need to focus on warming up is their feet. Foot stretches are great for preventing injuries to your feet.

So basically, what I did was to take The MAP System, and all of its steps, and put it together into a real-world warm-up system.

I still got exercises from all the different steps in MAP, but it is combined and organized so that your players easily can perform the warm-up, whether it’s December or June.

To give you something to take with you right here, right now, and implement it into your training even tomorrow, I decided to create a video for you demonstrating all the different exercises.Check out the video here below (you can see the complete list of all the exercises below the video):

1. Jogging
2. Bounce with arm swings
3. Open-up Chest
4. High Knee Run
5. Butt Kicks
6. Pushups
7. Hip Circuits
8. Heel-to-Toe Walk
9. Knee Hug to Walking Lunge
10. Backward Walking Lunge
11. Side Jumps to Lateral Squat
12. Side Shuffle (at high speed)
13. Squat to Stand
14. Carioca
15. Carioca with Knee-Drive
16. Frankenstein Kicks
17. Backpedal Run
18. Walking 1-leg RDL
19. Diagonal Jumps to Step Over
20. 1 Leg Jumps
21. Defensive Shuffle
22. Power Skip
23. Glute Bridge
24. Leg Swings (linear)
25. Leg Swings (lateral)
26. Ankle Mobility

This soccer warm up will probably take around 10 minutes to perform. After that, I always follow it up with some quick feet drills to get the nervous system really turned on, and depending on what day it is (day after a game, middle of the week, etc), I might follow that up with speed training drills, body control training, etc.

So there you have it, the complete warm-up system for soccer players!