Spring Break! Maintaining Skills/Routines

TonyM CoachCard 150x150 Spring Break! Maintaining Skills/Routines
Tony M., Coach/Brand Ambassador

Have you ever asked yourself “What can I play with my child at home or what can I do so my child can practice his/hers skills?”. Here are a few fun games you can try at home. 

The key to playing soccer is knowing how to dribble with the soccer ball, and keeping the ball close to your feet. Dribbling is the ability to carry the ball past an opponent while in control of the ball. So what child doesn’t like an obstacle course… right?! There is nothing like working around an obstacle course to improve your dribbling skills. You and your child can start by using an object you find around your house to create a course, where you and your child will be moving around obstacles, zig zagging, knocking down items, like cones or cardboard boxes. You can change speed by going fast and then going slow. Make sure to give yourself enough room to maneuver without losing control of the ball. As you and your child gets comfortable, add some more
obstacles like scoring from a certain spot to practice their shooting. Just remember the point of this game is to never let the ball get too far from your feet. Keep it close. 

Another fun game to practice dribbling and the control position of the ball is soccer win Spring Break! Maintaining Skills/Routinesplaying the Ice Monster game. In this game children will practice their control position and how to dribble by keeping the ball close to their feet. To begin this game mark off an area for the game to be played, and select who will be the “Monster”.  The person not selected as the “Monster” will dribble their soccer ball within the area that has been marked. The “Ice Monster” attempts to touch the soccer ball, at which point that player “freezes” with their foot on the ball. If a player’s ball goes out of bounds, they also freeze. Switch roles so everyone can have fun being the monster. 

ROAR!!!!

The last fun game that children seem to love playing is “The Big, Friendly Bear”. The object of this game is to dribble around and be able to control the ball when told to do so, and to shoot their soccer ball at the “big friendly bear” and stop him from getting the honey. For this game you will need a couple of cones to set up as your flowers around your playing area. To begin this game select who will be the “big friendly bear”.  The person not selected as the “big friendly bear” will dribble their soccer ball around the cones (flowers) as the bee is making sure all the 43a83816c71c7c73d165ce08aecd1adc Spring Break! Maintaining Skills/Routinesflowers have honey. After a few minutes explain that you are a big friendly bear and that you would love some sweet honey! When you say “go,” the bee must come out to shoot their ball at your feet to keep you away from their honey.

Don’t forget to just go out there and have fun! Whether that is playing a game from the this blog or simply passing the ball back-and-forth. Have fun scoring goals!

Soccer Shots: Parent Expectations Re: Ages + Stages

AlyssaM CoachCard 300x300 Soccer Shots: Parent Expectations Re: Ages + Stages
Alyssa McGarigal, MA, PPSC, Program Director

As an educator, one of the most common conversations I have with families center around what is “expected” for certain ages and stages of development.

(Don’t get me wrong, as a parent I find myself having this conversation with myself too!)

My child is throwing cones… Is this supposed to happen?

She seems scared to play with the group… Why?

He doesn’t seem like he enjoys the scrimmage… What should I do?

So much of what we see (and do) at Soccer Shots centers around the developmental ages and stages of the children. With expert designed curriculum that put this at the forefront, we are infusing developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) into everything we do.

What does that actually mean? What are the ages and stages? What can I expect from my child at Soccer Shots?

All great questions!

In our Mini (2 year old) sessions, we offer a basic introduction to soccer and character concepts. More than that, we’re building motor skills by running, hopping, sorting, stacking, and kicking. Social and emotional skills are developed listening to and following directions, going on very basic imaginary adventures, and playing along side others. It’s important to note that at this age, we expect children to engage in solitary or parallel play. This means we expect each child to come to the field and play on their own, in a group. Running away and testing boundaries is expected, as is some resistance to change (i.e. a brand new activity like soccer). Our hope and goal for this age group is that they have fun, run, kick, laugh, and develop a young love for being outdoors engaging in physical activity.

Ages and Stages 1024x589 Soccer Shots: Parent Expectations Re: Ages + Stages

Soccer Shots Classic (3-5 year old) sessions are a little different. At this age, we’re focused on introducing more soccer specific skills that continue to develop and refine motor skills, as well as infusing social/emotional learning (character development) into the curriculum. At the younger end of this age group, children are still engaging in parallel play, testing the boundaries, learning about their own capabilities, and are eager to help and succeed. Towards the latter end of this age group, we start to see cooperative play (group play) emerge, as well as the desire to please and follow the rules. Imagination continues to develop, and we use this to our advantage; our curriculum is loaded with imaginary scenarios and lots of fun! Self-awareness begins to develop as well, and we can see this sometimes in the hesitancy to try something new (for fear of failure). Other times we see the highly social, overly talkative confidence prominently. All of this is totally expected for this age group, understood by our team of coaches, and incorporated into the way we approach each session.

Ages and Stages 2 1 1017x1024 Soccer Shots: Parent Expectations Re: Ages + Stages

The social aspect of youth sports and activities begins to take center stage in our 5-6 year old Premier sessions. Is your child waving to you instead of listening to coach or chasing the ball? (Yup! That was me as a child too!) That’s totally expected at this age. This age group begins to understand and appreciate cooperative play, taking turns and following the rules. They also feel pride in their accomplishments, enjoy having basic responsibility, and may get excited to show off a new move or two! Ask them to teach you what they’ve learned, and they’ll eagerly oblige. As physical confidence develops, so does intellectual ability. We continue to have intentional conversations around social/emotional development and aim to create positive feelings associated with physical activity. Even as competitiveness emerges, we teach winning and losing in a constructive way that builds everyone up, rather than tearing ourselves or others down.

Ages and Stages 3 1 1024x450 Soccer Shots: Parent Expectations Re: Ages + Stages

Any questions we didn’t answer? Let us know! Or speak directly to your child’s coach, many of which have received collegiate level child development units and have training from Soccer Shots on the ages and stages!

Source: Child Development Institute, 2015, General Developmental Sequence Toddler through Preschool (https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/devsequence/#.WObS4FKZOV4)

What is luck? Teaching children determination/perseverance

MatthewC CoachCard 150x150 What is luck? Teaching children determination/perseverance
Matthew C., Lead Coach

Character development is at the foundation of Soccer Shots. In conjunction with soccer skills progressing through the mini, classic, premier, and elite curriculums, there is additionally an evolution of growth through character words. Being aware of cognitive and social/emotional variances, we as coaches tailor our conversations about respect, honesty, patience, etc. to particular ages.

For example, when discussing patience during a classic session of children aged three to four, I may verbalize that we have to be patient by waiting our turn to be goalkeeper. On the contrary, to a premier session of children aged five to six, I would build off of that infrastructure by discussing a different form of patience, a patience in becoming better at soccer. In said situation, I would try to elicit whether players are going to become significantly better at soccer after one practice. There is generally a resounding and emphatic response that it takes time to improve greatly, and it is tremendously rewarding as a coach to experience that conceptual understanding.

 

With respect to determination and perseverance, our short phrase definitions are “keep trying” and “never give up”.RcAAdLeji 300x284 What is luck? Teaching children determination/perseverance

 

Similar to the ideology of patience, my goal in a dialogue about determination and perseverance is to focus on continuation. Below are some strategies of how I make the abstract more tangible:

 

(1) After juggling the soccer ball briefly, I create an exchange where the children tell me how old they are and how many soccer juggles they can do. Then, I relate to them by expressing that I could only do one or two juggles at that same age, but soon enough I could do three and eventually eight! After hearing some entertaining answers regarding my current age, I explain and demonstrate that I can literally do thousands of juggles. I conclude by confirming to them that although they are only five or six years old, by age ten, I am positive that they will be able to do one hundred juggles. My experience is that the children gain a sense of motivation and the knowledge to keep going and keep trying.

 

(2) Coach: In school, do you have to use your memory?
Children: Yes, to learn!
Coach: Well, I am going to teach you a trick. Your muscles have memory too!  If you practice your soccer skills only once, do you think your muscles will remember how to do them?
Children: No, we have to practice them a lot!

 

I love the above approach, for it is an introduction to muscle memory, and it serves as a correlation to school which I think is valuable.  Staying determined and persevering is applicable outside of soccer including at home, school, and other activities such as music. The muscle memory theory is also helpful when I need assistance explaining the purpose of practicing a soccer move that is already known, or “easy”.

 

Screen Shot 2017 03 13 at 12.05.55 PM 276x300 What is luck? Teaching children determination/perseverancePardon my tangential divergence, but please note that part of the definitions “keep going” and “keep trying” feature on effort rather than a result which is consistent with what I have garnered from Early Childhood Education courses learning about process praise. In summary, I learned that instead of saying, “good job”, I should state, “I like how you are using rhythmic touches to keep strong control of the soccer ball”. As such, more intrinsic value from the child’s perspective can be obtained.

 

To retreat from the digression, determination and perseverance are sometimes idealistic opportunities to provide challenges because the philosophical transcends to the practical. Encountering difficulties and struggling to achieve mastery are moments where The Children’s Soccer Experience comes to life. In those instances, listening and relating are paramount because adverse occasions can be frustrating. I say that as a player who personally challenges himself to acquire new soccer skills. Glossing over the phrase “never give up,” can be all too simple.

 

True empathy must come from some semblance of a parallel situation. It must come from relating and recognizing that a highly competent learner who is still developing cognitively, emotionally, and in terms of gross motor skills is struggling. And if I live up to my responsibility as a coach, then that competent learner keeps going, keeps trying, and ultimately never gives up regardless of obstacles.

 

In reflection, perhaps I challenge myself in part because of the inspiration I receive from coaching, and certainly, I always end up learning more than I teach. I have the most fantastic reminders that playing soccer is fun. I learn that we really should never give up. We should keep trying. We should keep going.

 

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” -Vincent Van Gogh

 

-Matthew Case

Share the Love: Quality Time

AlyssaM CoachCard 300x300 Share the Love: Quality Time
Alyssa McGarigal, MA, PPSC Program Director

In addition to being the Program Director for Soccer Shots, I am a mom to a rambunctious and amazing two year old. I care deeply and passionately about the program, so I often spend time outside of the office thinking about work.

As February rolled around this year, a time where love is everywhere, I began to reflect on my relationship with my daughter. Do I show the same passion at home? Does she feel loved?

It’s no secret that being a working parent is a balancing act. So here I am, sharing my story, as well as my challenge to myself, and to you, if you accept.  For the rest of the month, I am going to make a conscious effort to ensure that  I have quality time with my daughter. Notice I didn’t say more time with her; I know that would be hard.

I’m committing to putting my phone away when I get home from work, and leaving it there until she goes to bed.

To engaging in conversations (those limited by two year old vocabulary) when we’re in the car on the way home from school.

To enjoying the time we spend walking the dog together, instead of rushing.

I want to play with her and the toy kitchen she got during the holidays, the train track too. I’m not sure we’ve fully enjoyed those experiences together yet, and the toys have been strewn around my house for a month and a half now!

Why, you might ask. And why did I make the distinction that this isn’t a challenge of increasing the quantity of time spent together? valentines day hearts 251x300 Share the Love: Quality Time

Quantity vs. Quality: Research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family (Milkie, 2014) shows that there is actually no relationship between the amount of time parent’s spend with their children and how they turn out. These findings include children’s academic achievement, behavior and emotional well-being.

Now this doesn’t mean time with parents isn’t important. The important factor here, that does lead to positive outcomes, is that the time spent is quality time – such as reaching, sharing meals, talking and engaging one-on-one.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect. I know what the research says, and still there are days when it all goes out the window in our house. But we try, and as long as we’re asking that of ourselves, we’re in a good place. So here’s to more conversations, more peaceful walks, and more play time with each other. What are your favorite quality time activities?

Hey! That’s MY ball!

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Matthew)

MatthewC CoachCard Hey! Thats MY ball!
As a coach with Soccer Shots, I hear the phrase, “that’s MY ball!” from a multiplicity of our youth players.  Since one goal of Soccer Shots is to improve individual skills through a copious amount of time on the ball, each player is given his or her own ball for a portion of each class.  As such, soccer balls are routinely interchanged between players during dribbling drills and fun games.  The exchange generally causes minimal disruption, but there are occasions where it creates a small controversy.  Mediating the commotion over which player had which soccer ball was and is not how I prefer to utilize class time.
Therefore, in an effort to minimize and quell these minor distractions from future classes, I raised the issue to our Director of Program and Community Advancement, Alyssa McGarigal.  Unexpectedly, she informed me that said behavior is not a form of selfishness in wanting a particular ball but rather a cognitive achievement.  The achievement is that the youth player has developed a sense of self and understands that there is a difference between him or her and others.
Knowledge of the aforementioned concept has helped me approach scenarios involving disputes over soccer balls with a much more positive attitude.  I am happy to have this new outlook and am eager to build on my understanding of child development by taking early childhood education courses.

Giving Kids Options (When and Why?)

AlyssaM CoachCard Giving Kids Options (When and Why?)
Alyssa McGarigal, MA, PPSC, Director, Program + Community Advancement

At Soccer Shots, we pride ourselves on being a positive introduction to organized sports, as well as a supportive, engaging, and FUN environment in which to learn. But we have to set boundaries too. With sometimes upwards of 50 children in the park at a time, we have to be careful to keep our groups engaged, a little “crazy” having fun, but also “under control.”

If you were to sit on the side of a field, and listen, I mean really listen to the words our coaches use, you might realize they choose their words carefully, and with purpose. Sure, some of it’s meant to engage, and generate buy in from the kids, but other times it’s more than that. Here are three things you’ll probably hear when our coaches might (or might not) give a child an “option” to do something (and why).

1. “It’s okay if you don’t want to join in right now, I’ll come back and check in with you in ….. hmm, how many minutes do you think I should wait before coming back?”  

We’ve all had that time, even as adults, where we were unsure, not ready, and we needed a little time before we jumped head first into something new. When children are new to Soccer Shots, shy, or a little unsure, we don’t force them to join in. We give them the option of taking their time. Engaging them in the process by asking “how many minutes should I give you…?” allows them to have their space, but also be a part of the plan to join in later on.

It’s so important to come back, check in again, and show them that you can be trusted. I can’t count how many times this has worked for me in getting a child to engage. This, of course though, is dependent upon having the time to wait.

2. “Let’s all do a stop position!” vs. “Can we do a stop position?” Screen Shot 2015 03 26 at 3.36.54 PM Giving Kids Options (When and Why?)

This is one of the most common pieces of feedback, I give our coaches when I am in the field observing our classes. Phrase the desired behavior as a fun command, versus a request. When you ask a group if they “can” do something, inevitably you’ll have one child that thinks… “hmmm. I can…. but not now,” or “I’m not sure I can,” and even just, “no, I can’t.” Set your children, and your self up for success, try to get them excited to do what you’re asking, especially if it’s non-negotiable.

3. “I can help you move out of the goal, or you can move yourself, this is not safe for your body.” Which sometimes turns into, “I am going to have to help you move by helping you get up, ready? One… Two… Three…”  

SAFETY. Always important. We try to make this an option at first, as a sign of respect to the child we are working with, but sometimes it becomes necessary to intervene for the child’s safety. You’ll notice though, that even in intervening, we are still letting the child know what is coming, and to some degree still giving them a chance to take ownership and do what is needed on their own.

Chop Move!

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

This week we will be discussing the inside and the outside Chop Move.

This is another move that teaches our children how to change direction quickly and effectively. We teach the kids this move by practicing dribbling one direction, and then “chopping” the ball back the other way. This is done with either the inside, or in future weeks, the outside of the foot, by placing it in front of the ball and using the inside/outside of the foot to chop back the other direction.

This move works really well in the Race Car game that we play. We use the same lights as in Red light, Green Light, only this time, when we say “crash” or “orange light”, it’s time to do a soccer shots move. Soccer players then do the chop move and go in the other direction on the race track. This shows young players how to change directions quickly, and they get to play race cars which tends to be a favorite game for many kids!

Passing and Trapping!

KimZ CoachCard Passing and Trapping!(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

This week is all about sharing the ball, which in soccer is called passing. This is a great skill for kids to learn especially at an age when it can be hard for them to understand sharing.

We teach this with team building games because passing utilizes teamwork. There is a game we play called blob tag, which calls for the children to run around and once they get tagged they must join hands and make one big chain which looks like a “blob”. This game is great, but depending on the size of the group it may be easier to play a different version of the game, such as freeze tag. Either game teaches the children the need to work together to accomplish a goal.

When we teach passing and trapping, we show the students that we want to use the inside of their foot when they kick or trap the ball. Now of course this may take a few times to learn but the most important thing is that they are kicking the ball to a friend and that they are sharing. This skill isn’t easy to learn and is such an accomplishment when they do, because at this age sharing can be hard. As coaches we celebrate everything the kids do but seeing the kids passing, especially during scrimmage, really is remarkable.

Teaching Sportsmanship!

JordanL CoachCard1 Teaching Sportsmanship!(Guest Post by Coach Jordan)

I had coached the same general group of kids for a few seasons. They all knew each other well and knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This season, we had a new kid join in who had clearly played soccer before. “Andrea” wasn’t exceptionally better than any of the other kids but she could give any of them a run for their money. All the kids in the class still got along great until a few weeks into the season…

“John” and “Andrew” were best friends and pretty much the two “best” soccer players in the class. To make things fair for everyone else, I usually put them on opposite teams when it came to scrimmage. They always competed well against each other and never had a problem with the other one winning. It was sportsmanship at its finest as far as I could tell. However, a few weeks into the new season John and Andrew got paired up on the same team going up against Andrea. It was all fun, until I blew the whistle and John and Andrew’s team had lost, a lot to nothing. Of course I wasn’t keeping strict score for either team but they were a competitive group of kids and always kept pretty good track of the score on their own. After the game, Andrew handed me his jersey with the rest of the kids and was just as happy as usual. John, on the other hand, I was surprised to see still had the jersey on well after the game was over.

I walked up to him as the other kids were collecting the cones and saw tears welling up in his eyes. “John, what’s wrong” I asked, thinking maybe he got hurt and I had missed it. He took a second before he looked up and yelled, “it’s not fair! We lost! I didn’t get a turn.” I was a little confused because he had lost plenty of times in the many season’s he’d been playing. “It’s okay,” I reassured him, “we’ll still play next week and I’m sure you’ll score lots of goals then. “No it’s not fair, I don’t want to play anymore.”

I couldn’t understand why this time was so different. I tried to reassure him some more but he wasn’t having any of it. Fast-forward to the next week and John was ready to play soccer again. He had largely forgotten about the incident it appeared and was ready to play. That was, until the scrimmage was over, and neither team had scored a goal. Again, after the scrimmage, John was distraught that he hadn’t won. I asked him again what was wrong and again he told me he lost and that it wasn’t fair.

I was still confused about what made this time any different than the other times he had lost but I was prepared. “But you tied” I told him. “It’s not fair” he said insistently. This time I was ready though. “Why isn’t it fair John?” I was starting to think there wasn’t an actual reason. “Because we lost” he said keeping his reasoning in a circle. “But what if you had won, then the other team loses then is it not fair to them?” I asked him. “But I don’t want them to win.”

Finally we got to the root of the problem. John was fine with losing before because it usually meant that Andrew won. They were best friends and hugged and high-fived and were happy win or lose. But when John was on Andrew’s team and they both lost, Andrew saw no reason he should be happy the other team won. It took another week for John to really understand that it was okay to lose. I had to stress that he was still having fun and just as importantly, so were the kids on the other team.

The concept of winning and losing is hard to get across to kids. The best way I’ve found to do it, is to first really understand what their underlying meaning of winning and losing for them is. Some kids really want to win, some really don’t want to lose, some have learned that winning is good and some just have an inherent drive. It may be a cliché to say that every kids is unique but it’s true, every situation is different. The most important thing though, is to make sure the kid learns for themselves that winning and losing are both okay. It isn’t as easy as telling them. They have to experience it both ways. The thing you can do, is explain to them the best you can so that when they do win or lose, they make the choice for themselves to be a gracious winner and a gracious loser.

Step Over Move!

KimZ CoachCard Step Over Move!(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

The Step Over Move teaches kids how to get around another player and keep the ball.

This move can be taught in many different ways but the main idea of this move is to keep the ball away from the opponent. We teach this move because it is important to know how to navigate the field and keep the ball in your possession. The Step Over Move is essentially faking one direction while stepping over the ball and then going in a different direction. Whether you turn around or just veer to the side depends on the situation.

One fun way they to practice this new move is during Red Light, Green Light. This game can be played differently by different coaches; I like to give them “steering wheels” (colorful rings) and have the children pretend to be cars with their soccer ball being the car. Red Light means stop position, Yellow Light means “slow like a turtle”, and Green Light means “fast like a bunny”. This gives them an opportunity to practice their dribbling while also “driving” their car. Then… I say Orange Light, which I learned from another coach and use it as a Soccer Shots move light. When I say Orange Light they show me the Step-Over Move to change directions, that way we can practice it and still have fun!