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18

Nov

On their own terms…

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

AlyssaM CoachCard On their own terms... As a Soccer Shots Director, I feel lucky to have a vast array of experiences within the company, from administrative tasks to working with kids and families in the field.

This fall I have worked with two children, at two different schools, that reminded me once again why I LOVE Soccer Shots, why we do what we do, and why we take the approach that we take.

The first child, has played several seasons of Soccer Shots, starting over a year ago, in my class. He was a child that I knew when I met him, would benefit from Soccer Shots. Each week before soccer we talked about having safe, calm bodies, using listening ears, and playing all the games. In a few short weeks, this child fell in love with soccer. We run 4 classes at his school, and each time we walk by his classroom, he excitedly asks if it’s his turn yet. Not every child needs the reminders that this child needs before class, and not every coach would have suggested this child join their class of 10 other kids, on black top. Some coaches, in some other programs, wouldn’t have seen what I saw in this child. Through the imminent added challenge, I saw promise, I saw potential. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and I took him into my class without hesitation. I visited this school recently, and this child greeted me with a gigantic hug. During soccer, he reminded me again how unique each child we work with truly is. And how important it is to meet them where they are, and give them every opportunity to succeed, on their own terms. They deserve that. He stopped mid-dribble while I was watching his class, and proclaimed… “A PUDDLE! Coach Alyssa, I just need a second to explore this puddle real quick…”

Screen Shot 2014 11 14 at 3.54.42 PM On their own terms...

Some coaches, in some other programs, would have denied him the opportunity to lay down, close one eye, and really check out that puddle. I knew, if he didn’t get that opportunity, it was probably going to affect his ability to engage in the rest of class. So… we did. We explored the puddle for a little while, and then he went right back to dribbling…

The second child, started her first season of Soccer Shots this fall, and met me on day one, with eyes full of tears. She was shy, hesitant, and reluctant to try something new. Instead of forcing her out of her comfort zone, I let her sit on the side of soccer island to observe our class. By the end of week one’s class, she was trying stop position, on her own, on the sideline. When I acknowledged her success, she was again hesitant to respond. Week two was similar, with some progress. By week three, she was dribbling and doing pull back moves on the sideline, and joining us for a game or two. I never forced her to join, but would occasionally ask her if she wanted to try what we were doing. Most often she declined, but she watched and took in EVERYTHING we were doing.

By week five, there were no tears when myself and the other coach arrived… and she played the entire class with us! She even asked me if she could have a turn playing in the scrimmage! This felt like a huge accomplishment, since scrimmage can be one of the most intimidating parts of class. One ball, 3 or 4 kids on each team, running full speed at each other… But she did it, without hesitation! Screen Shot 2014 11 14 at 4.39.35 PM On their own terms...

We could have suggested this child wasn’t ready for soccer, or that she try again next season… But we didn’t. We gave her the time and space she needed, to join us, on her own terms.

For me, and for many kids, THIS is exactly what Soccer Shots is about. It’s about development. It’s about potential. It’s about small successes. It’s about respecting each child, and giving them the opportunity they need. Soccer Shots also happens to be about soccer and skill building, but for me, and for many kids, that comes second to the skills built when given time and space to develop and grow on their own terms.

14

Nov

Speed Dribbling!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

KimZ CoachCard Speed Dribbling! This week is all about speed dribbling. In the first few weeks of classes we go over a lot of the basics and dribbling is one of them. In later weeks we focus on the importance of speeding up and slowing down.

Dribbling is the move that is done the most in soccer and is thus very important. I like the fact that when the coaches teach this skill, they explain it by asking which animals go fast and which go slow and then they act out the animals we our players to imitate. For example when we explain how to go slow like a turtle, we hunch over and walk slow and pretend to have a shell on our back and then ask the kids to do the same. Also when it is time to learn how to go fast like a bunny, we pretend to have floppy ears and show small, fast kicks. The kids can now associate dribbling with animals which will make it easier for them to remember.

Our soccer players practice this new move with a goal scoring game this week. The game involves pretending to be airplanes. We explain that when airplanes take off on a runway, they start off slow and then speed up. When it’s their turn, they practice dribbling by going slow then speeding up which helps them be able to keep control when it comes to scrimmage.

This week is essential to your child’s development in soccer and is also a fun week for them to pretend to be animals and airplanes.

31

Oct

Toe Touches!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

KimZ CoachCard Toe Touches!

Thought the season, we practice Toe Touches. What is so great about this skill is that it is a variation on Stop/Control Position and is useful to develop touch and control of the ball when playing soccer.

Check out a Soccer Shots Coach demonstrating Toe Touches!

We explain Toe Touches by telling the children that this move is similar to doing fast stop positions which makes it easier for them to understand. This skill helps to develop control of the ball, which is important during occasions when the kids are dribbling and need to quickly stop the ball for just a moment before continuing to dribble. Balance and quickness are also enhanced by the need to be able to hop from one foot to the next to do the toe touches, which isn’t always easy to do. It also helps young players to improve their gross motor skills and be faster on their feet.

Speed is essential to soccer, as we will talk more about next time. It is good for young players to learn little by little to be quicker on their feet and to have more overall control of the ball, balance, and coordination. Toe Touches are a great way to teach and perfect these abilities, even professional soccer players spend a significant amount of time practicing variations of toe touches!

22

Oct

Word of the day: GENEROSITY!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

This fall, for the second time, we will take on a sometimes difficult, but incredibly meaningful, task…

… To begin conversations with our soccer players about GENEROSITY and to model EMPATHY.

… To teach our soccer players about giving to others that have less than they do, and to plant the seeds for the ability to put themselves in another’s shoes.

Screen Shot 2014 10 22 at 2.42.24 PM Word of the day: GENEROSITY!

 

For questions related to the Soccer Shots Food Drive, or to get involved, contact Alyssa McGarigal, alyssamcg@soccershots.org

 

06

Oct

Pull Back Move!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

KimZ CoachCard Pull Back Move!(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

This week we are covering the Pull Back move. The great thing about this move is that since we taught the Stop/Control Position last week, the kids are now set up to do the Pull Back move.

The Pull Back move is taught so that the children learn how to change directions when dribbling the ball. This move is really easy to explain and is a fun move to learn. It starts out with the child standing in Stop/Control Position then just rolling the ball behind them. The kids love it when we pretend that we don’t know where the ball is and they have to tell us or show us that it is behind us.

There are many games we use to showcase our Pull Back move. The most popular are the Mr. Fox and Pirate Ship games. What makes these games so effective is how they engage the children on their level. The games take something they really like and put a Soccer Shots twist on it. By doing that, it really helps them remember the move by associating it with the game. I have children who have done multiple seasons who remember a lot of moves just by recognizing the games we play.

The Pull Back is a very useful move that can help kids when they are playing scrimmage by teaching them how to keep the ball close to them but away from the other team. It is just one of many moves we use to set them up for later soccer success.

25

Sep

Stop/Control Position!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

KimZ CoachCard Stop/Control Position! Welcome to my new series of blog posts. This time I will be covering the different skills and moves that we teach your kids every week in class. The first move is called the Stop/Control Position. 

The first week of class can be very exciting and also nerve wracking for your child and thus we try not to overwhelm them to much with too many moves or drills. We also integrate a lot of fun into our class to make them feel at ease. Stop or Control Position is a very simple move for kids to learn.

We encourage the kids to sit down on their soccer balls to watch us demonstrate or we wait to give out the balls until after the demonstration. First we show them that we use two feet in soccer but to stop the ball we only use one. We show them by putting our arms out to the side like an airplane and then putting one foot gently on the ball. We explain that by putting our arms out it will help us from falling over. At this point we start handing out the soccer balls or have them stand up off their soccer balls. We have them put their “airplane arm wings” out and put one foot on the ball. It doesn’t matter if they can do it for two seconds or twenty minutes, we always encourage them and give them a high five for their effort.Screen Shot 2014 09 11 at 1.18.39 PM Stop/Control Position!

This move helps to foster balance and coordination which are crucial for our kids’ ages 2-8 years old. This is the time where they really start to master their small and large motor skills and balancing is a huge part of that. This also sets them up for success with the rest of the moves that we cover and for playing our games because it teaches them to keep the ball close while having “control” over their soccer balls.

16

Sep

Week Ten: POSITIVE!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

KimZ CoachCard Week Ten: POSITIVE!It is end of summer and with that we come to our last word of the day, which is POSITIVE. What a great word to end with. This is what we want all of the children, parents, teachers and really everyone to feel about their experience with Soccer Shots. That makes it a good word to end the season with.

POSITIVE is defined as expressing approval; definite, certain and having or showing a mind free from doubt. This is definitely the main goal of our program. We want our kids to be certain that they are enjoying soccer. We want our parents to be certain that they have invested in a program that is showing their kids not only soccer skills but also life skills such as patience and teamwork. We also want our school and teachers to be certain that they have a dynamite soccer program to promote to their parents and others.

I am POSITIVE that I had a great time writing these blogs and I really hope they have helped you to understand more of what Soccer Shots is and what we do for your children. I will be starting a brand new blog next week and I am POSITIVE that I will love writing those as well. Thanks for reading and see you next time with details about the skills your children learn with us here at Soccer Shots.

27

Aug

Week Nine: PATIENCE!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Nine: PATIENCE!

This week is all about PATIENCE. PATIENCE is something that not only the children need to learn but that we as adults need to also practice on a daily basis.

PATIENCE is defined as the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper or irritation; an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. This is an amazing way to describe PATIENCE, mostly because if we look closely, it totally describes how we as coaches need to be with our kids at all times.

PATIENCE is definitely not something that comes naturally to our kids. They are very young and it something that can be hard to do even as adults. We just need to explain to our kids how being patient and waiting our turn can yield great results. By being patient we can show kindness by letting someone else have the ball first and by being patient we can share the joy of being a team and letting everyone have their turn.

PATIENCE it is not an easy word to emulate for any of us but the more we show these kids PATIENCE the more they will respect, listen, and enjoy Soccer Shots.

21

Aug

Week Eight: COMMITMENT!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Eight: COMMITMENT!

This week’s word of the day is COMMITMENT. This was a new word for me and I really like it. I also like how important this word is to our kids and how COMMITMENT can impact them for the future.

COMMITMENT is defined as a promise to do or give something; a promise to be loyal to someone or something; the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something. I wrote all these definitions down because they are all a different and unique perspective at looking at COMMITMENT. Each week that our kids show up to soccer they are making a COMMITMENT. Each week we show up to coach we are also showing COMMITMENT. We want to show our kids how committed we are to them by making Soccer Shots as enjoyable as possible.

Having the children understand COMMITMENT is very important. That is why I feel that as coaches we need to really show them how committed we are. The first day that we show up to do Soccer Shots at a school, we have made a promise to the children that we are here and that we will be there to support them going forward. We don’t want to break that promise and not be there for them if we can help it, even if it comes down to another coach coaching them instead, we still want to make sure we are showing how committed we are as a team and as a brand. We want each child we coach to walk away feeling special and knowing that we care and that is all about committing ourselves one hundred percent to all that we do. 

12

Aug

“Help please…” and other hard conversations…

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)
AlyssaM Help please... and other hard conversations...

Alyssa McGarigal, MA, PPSC
Director, Program & Community Advancement

As coaches at Soccer Shots, we spend countless hours a day, influencing young minds. We remind them to keep their bodies safe, to respect friends and toys, and to ask for help when they need it. In fact, when I am on the field, “I can’t do it…” is one of my least favorite things to hear, and I immediately respond with, ” let’s try one more time together,” or “you can say… I need help, please.” 

When I heard about Robin Williams’ passing yesterday, as an educator, and a counselor, I couldn’t help but think to myself… What happened? At what age does asking for help go out of style? What makes it so difficult to have hard conversations? How do we prevent these things from happening…? 

Some of my favorite characters crossed my mind a hundred times. Genie in Aladdin, Lovelace in Happy Feet, Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, Jack, Alan Parrish in Jumanji (even though I was terrified of that movie for quite some time), Professor Phillip Brainard in Flubber, Peter Pan in Hook, John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society, Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting… the list goes on and on.

Working with kids, we are consistently modeling the behavior we want to see from them. If we want them to dribble their soccer ball, we dribble with them. If we want them to sit criss-cross applesauce, we sit with them.

At age 3 and 4, a seemingly hard conversation might start with, “you have short hair, are you a boy or a girl?” Or, “that bug isn’t moving anymore, what happened to it?” But, as mentors, coaches, educators, friends, and parents, we have to have the hard conversations. We have to model this behavior too, so that at some point, kids (who become adults) don’t shy away from these conversations.

Here are some tips for having hard conversations with kids: 

1. Listen and acknowledge. Recognize feelings, and provide reassurance or comfort if needed.

2. Ask and answer questions without judgement. Find out what your child thinks or already knows. Try to stay openminded.

3. Be honest. Know yourself. Take time to think of a response if needed. Follow through, make a point to revisit the conversation if you say you need time.

4. Explain simply. Tailor your response to the child’s age and developmental level.

5. Keep the lines of communication open. Provide encouragement to come back and talk more if needed.

 

“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” – Robin Williams as Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting

If you, or someone you know, needs help or even just someone to talk to, know that there are always options.

NSPL Logo Help please... and other hard conversations...

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