Free Soccer Shots Class (Ages 3-5)!

SSLA  RC2 Ad 300x249 Free Soccer Shots Class (Ages 3 5)!

If you are like me, you are already starting to find things for your kids to do over the holidays. Well add this to your calendar!!!

Soccer Shots is hosting a FREE soccer class for 3-5 year olds at the following parks:

Be sure to register online to reserve your spot.

CLICK TO REGISTER:
Valley Park (Hermosa Beach) – Thursday, December 15th 3:15pm – 4:15pm
(Find us towards the back of the park.)

CLICK TO REGISTER:
Hazeltine Park (Sherman Oaks/Van Nuys) – Saturday, December 17th 9:30am-10:30am
(Find us on the east-side of the park off Hazeltine Ave.)

CLICK TO REGISTER:
Culver West Park (Culver City) – Wednesday, December 21st 3:30pm-4:30pm
(Small park, you can’t miss us.)

If you haven’t played soccer with us before or you are a regular in the Soccer Shots family, come out and join us! And invite your friends as well!

Check out our blog and website for more info on our program: www.soccershotsblog.org and www.soccershots.org/losangeles

And “like” us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/soccershotslosangeles

See you at the park!

The Difference That a Really, Really, Really Good Coach Can Make

(Guest post from Nicole Cody, Owner, Soccer Shots of Greater St. Charles)

NicoleCody 300x200 The Difference That a Really, Really, Really Good Coach Can Make

Our oldest son, Micah, has played team sports since he was 4 (he is almost 8 now). He started with soccer, and added basketball about a year ago. Over the last four years, I have spent many (many) hours as the model soccer mom, on the sidelines cheering him on…

“Micah, please pay attention to the game and stop hanging like Spiderman in the net.”

“Son, you should apologize to him for that slide tackle.”

“Honey, it’s OK to pass the ball to your teammate once in awhile.”

“You. Are. On. The. SAME. TEAM!!!!!!!”

“Goooooooooaaaaaaaaallllllllllllll!” (which, one week, was quickly followed by “is it really necessary to celebrate your goal by pretending to make a snow angel in the middle of the field????”)

This past weekend, he played in his first basketball game of the season, and my view from the sideline allowed me to see – and appreciate – the difference that a really, really, really good coach can make.

Micah was placed on a recreational co-ed basketball team with Coach Julio. I’ve seen a lot of coaches over the last four years, but I have not experienced a coach like Coach Julio. I knew he was special at the first practice, when he said, “I’m going to be loud, but you’ll hear me being loud to encourage and teach the kids.” True story – he is loud but encouraging… Maybe one of the most encouraging coaches I’ve ever seen. He has been able to connect with my son in a way that not many other coaches have before… he is a very patient teacher with a rowdy group of second-grade boys. During this game, I found myself paying more attention to how consumed he was at making sure the boys were having fun and learning. The ref called everything – traveling, double dribble, you name it – and I’m pretty sure there were four baskets scored during the entire (hour-long) game. No one kept score (that I could tell), not even the coach or the players, and for my ultra-competitive little guy, that was a miracle in and of itself. And even though the whistle kept blowing, Coach Julio never lost his patience and never stopped encouraging the boys. He clapped, he cheered, and he gave high fives like they were going out of style.

He consistently and repeatedly communicated with my son in a way that he could understand and connect with. He was constantly getting to Micah’s level – making eye contact and showing that he was engaged and in it with them.

He knew all their names… even after only a couple hours with them. And then, today, when I checked my email, Coach Julio had taken headshots of each of the boys and made a poster with their picture and name so that they could all learn and remember their teammates’ names.

Did I mention that Coach Julio is a volunteer coach?

As a Soccer Shots owner, this experience struck me because at Soccer Shots, coaches are really important.

We look for people who will not only be dependable and patient, but will (more importantly) be encouraging with the children who play with us. We look for coaches who are able to make Soccer Shots the best 30 minutes of a child’s week. We hire coaches who believe that it’s more than just soccer – coaches who truly believe that they have the ability to leave a lasting impact on the youth that we serve through the game of soccer. We hire coaches who not only understand that this is the foundation of our program, but who also take their responsibilities as a role model to tiny, amazing little people very seriously.

To be honest, it’s not easy to find these types of coaches. It’s tempting to “settle” when faced with a very full schedule, a fast-approaching season, and a shortage of talented instructors.

As a parent, it is this kind of experience that I imagined for my child when I signed him up for sports in the first place. And it’s the kind of experience that only a really, really, really good coach can provide. Maybe he’ll stick with basketball… or soccer… or maybe he won’t. But either way, I guarantee that he will remember Coach Julio and think of him with a smile.

And I will too.

Yay For Soccer Shots!

I wanted to share this review that we received via Yelp from a parent in Echo Park. Thank you again for so beautifully putting into words your experience with our program. It truly makes me happy to know that our program has this affect on families in the community.

Review from Michelle M. in Echo Park:

My mantra as a mom is to expose my son (now 3) to everything life has to offer – from museums, a variety of music, different people and languages, etc.

It’s about encouraging a well rounded and secure relationship to the world around him, and ultimately, to empower him to chose what he enjoys in life.

So as he turned 3, I felt the next logical step was to enroll him in team sports… what better way to learn about working with others, burn off toddler energy and enjoy the outdoors? My ideal was soccer, but there were no options in my area (Echo Park). That’s when I came across Soccer Shots.

SS CommunityOutreach Yay For Soccer Shots!

They were pretty much the only soccer group that focused specifically on the 3-5 year old set… but even they hadn’t yet spread to the East Side. I contacted them anyway and long story short – they decided to donate a community outreach grant to my son’s preschool (10 sessions for the fall season!!!). I was shocked and thrilled … what a great way to build community!!

My son and his school mates have been going to soccer weekly now for about 5 weeks. He’s more agile and is learning to direct his energies. He’s starting to grasp the idea of team (a hard one for a 3 year old) and likes to talk about his scrimmages and how he and his buddies worked together.

He looks forward to every Tuesday AM (the weekly session) and I look forward to his evening breakdown of the day as it inevitably features something new Coach David has taught them (dribbling, balancing, passing) the thrill of a goal he’s scored, or praise for a buddy who did the same.

EchoParkPlaygroup 150x150 Yay For Soccer Shots!

Soccer Shots is one part of the overall balance we seek for our son. In a city with such a strong focus on the individual, Soccer Shots provides an early lesson on the importance of working together, self-discipline and the fun that comes from physical activity.

We can’t thank Soccer Shots enough for all their efforts and support – all the parents are thrilled. And while we were fortunate enough to be awarded the community grant, the overall costs are well worth it.

We’ll definitely be signing up next season. Yay for soccer shots coming to the East Side!!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

(Guest post from Coach Alyssa at Soccer Shots Los Angeles)

alyssa m 150x150 R E S P E C T

As I teach Week One curriculum to my soccer kids, I can’t help but hum “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” in my head a little bit each time. When I ask the kids to define respect, I get a myriad of answers, ranging from, “do what’s right” to “treat other people nicely”.

In the back of my head, I hear my own parents reminding me to treat other people the way I want to be treated.

This past week, I began a mini-season at a preschool in the San Fernando Valley, where other students have already been enrolled with another coach at a different time. The school and the students were warm, inviting, and welcomed me right away. As I gathered the students, and walked over to the field, a child and their parent approached me. The child was visibly upset and kept saying they didn’t want to play. Their parent explained that they had taken their iPhone from the child, as it was time to play soccer, but this had caused the young boy to get upset. I responded that it was quite alright, and we could give him some time to watch, calm down, and join in at his own pace. His parent even participated in the warm up with us, to show him that soccer would be much more fun than the iPhone. As the child watched his parent hop around, pretend to be a tree swaying in the wind, and run from sideline to sideline, the tears kept streaming down his face.

week 1 R E S P E C T

After warm up, the parent and I agreed that the child could sit by my equipment, while they went and sat somewhere else. We talked about control or stop position, and passed out soccer balls; I even made sure to give that boy his own ball to ponder joining us. As we played one of my favorite games, the “Body Part Game,” in which the kids have to stop the ball with various parts of their body, he began to smile. We stopped the ball with our noses, and our ears, and our elbows. Soon he was laughing with us as we all stopped the ball with our bottom!

Huddled together, I took this time to ask the kids if they knew anything about the word “Respect.”

Another child raised their hand, and said “treating other people nice.”

I commended this response, as oftentimes I get blank stares when I ask kids to explain the meaning of a character word. I then asked all the kids to repeat after me, “treating others the way you want to be treated” and “treating others the right way”. Next, I took
time explaining that in the next game we would all get a chance to score a goal, but we had to practice respect by watching our friends and cheering for them, so they would do the same for us.

I looked over to my equipment, where the child had been sitting, and now he was standing, almost ready to join us. I asked him if he wanted to join us, but he was still hesitant, so we started taking turns cheering and scoring goals. After every one had gone once, he spoke up, saying he’d like to go now. Of course we high fived and we all cheered for him as he dribbled down the field and scored a goal. We did this one more time each, as the group was relatively small, and this child got to and wanted to go first!

I gave each child a high five and thanked them for respecting their friend, letting him take his time to join us, and then making him feel welcome when he did join us.

It was a subtle, yet poignant reminder that we are all a little different, take our own time to warm up to things, and deserve to be respected for that! It just so happened that respect was also the character word of the day.

The kids even shared cones as they collected them at the end of practice, another great way of showing respect!

As I left that day, the boy shouted to me, “See you next week for soccer!” 🙂

Coach Alyssa
Soccer Shots Los Angeles

Impacting Youth in Newark, NJ

(Guest post from Jason Webb, Soccer Shots Partner via The Daily Dribble)

If you’re like me, a typical week for you might include a couple of evening soccer practices at a nearby township park, dinner out with the family, carpooling in your minivan, and Saturday morning soccer games. The games where my kids play are held on grass fields which are lined and include goals. We have coaches and paid officials, concessions and public bathrooms, and our parks department or club provide these amenities at a low cost.

3571 1024x768 300x225 Impacting Youth in Newark, NJ

This is not anyone’s typical week in Newark, NJ, a city just a few miles west of New York City known by many for its airport or its infamous riots in 1966. In fact, it would be unsafe to bring your children to a public park in the evening in many locations in Newark. Safer locations are fenced and gated. Few recreation departments have the resources to provide soccer fields. Even fewer offer community soccer programs.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the great work of the US Soccer Foundation by installing a Sport Court soccer field on the property of Avon Avenue Elementary School in Newark, NJ.

Avon Avenue Elementary School is located in the one of the most difficult wards in all of Newark, NJ and until recently, had recorded the lowest test scores of any school in the city. For these reasons, it has gained the attention of several organizations, including the US Soccer Foundation (USSF).

The USSF creates and supports programs which are designed to keep kids active and healthy. They guide children away from negative influences by providing them with safe and healthy places to play after school – the most dangerous hours of the day. Players receive attention and support from caring mentors and coaches who work to ensure that they develop into healthy and successful young adults.

The Foundation is working to build safe playing fields and bring their “Soccer For Success” model to economically disadvantaged communities nationwide.

401 300x225 Impacting Youth in Newark, NJ

Through the generosity of a donation made to the USSF by Soccer Shots Global Goals, a safe playing surface has been constructed on the playground at Avon Avenue Elementary. This new court will host an after school soccer education program led by the Claudia Reyna Foundation and will include year-round, daily soccer programs offered to Avon Avenue Elementary students after school. For most of the kids who will participate in this program, it will be their first experience ever playing soccer.

As a representative of the Soccer Shots franchise community, which so generously contributed to the construction of this court, it was my privilege to represent Soccer Shots last week during the construction of this court. We started constructing the court in the morning and by early afternoon, the court was nearly complete. It’s an 85 foot long by 55 foot wide safe playing surface which will have lines and goals. Apparently, this surface is ideal for many sports (tennis, volleyball, etc.) but found its place in soccer as the official surface for futsal. In urban locations, it’s virtually impossible to maintain grass playing surfaces, and artificial turf is cost-prohibitive at nearly 6 times the cost of a Sport Court. According to the USSF, constructing this court on Avon Avenue’s property will allow for maintenance, protection, and daily use of the surface through the USSF and its partners. The court will be the property of the school’s, and it may be used for other activities during and after school.

437 300x225 Impacting Youth in Newark, NJ

The best part of the day happened around 1:30pm. The field was near complete and a group of older kids (must have been around 12 years old) were out on the school yard. They were eyeing us up, tip-toeing on the field, and peppering us with questions about the field. One wanted know if it could be used for football. Others mentioned, “If it’s for soccer, is someone coming back to teach us how to play?” That was all we needed to hear. The 5 of us representing Soccer Shots and the USSF got out a bag of soccer balls and starting playing soccer with the kids right there on the court we had just installed. We taught a few of the older boys how to juggle and head back and forth. When the school bell rang, those boys were still practicing, didn’t want to leave, and were the last ones back into the school.

441 225x300 Impacting Youth in Newark, NJ

I consider it a privilege to be a coach and to impact kids positively here in my local community. I also consider it an honor and a privilege to share resources and to support the excellent work of the US Soccer Foundation in Newark, NJ and in other cities throughout the United States.

Soccer, A Unifying Force

(Guest post from Coach Adam at Soccer Shots Los Angeles)

In one of the many adventures that I have participated in, this story shows the power soccer has in uniting strangers from completely different walks of life.

Back in 2008, I was very fortunate to travel to South America for six months.

Everywhere I went, literally everywhere, there were soccer fields that seemed to sprout up from grass, concrete, and half finished buildings whose various levels seemed to defy architectural logic. Soon, it became quite apparent how important the game is to our neighbors to the south.

Kids begin the game at such a young age, and play with such ease; it is no wonder why the continent holds 9 World cup titles, with five coming from Brazil alone!

South America 2008 Ecuador Columbia 098 300x225 Soccer, A Unifying Force

As a soccer lover, I felt right at home. Of the four countries I visited, (Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia) each of their citizens welcomed me in similar yet different fashions. But one trend that maintained consistent was their eagerness to drop everything and include me in the many games that I played with local adults and children. All that I needed to say was donde esta la partida? Translating in English to where is the game? If there was a ball and any sort of makeshift goal, a game would begin in the time it took to get two sides together.

My most memorable experience by far, was the trip I took to the DEEP coastal jungle of Ecuador. By boat, (and I mean a canoe with a motor) the village of San Miguel is a five hour ride from a river outpost in the middle of the jungle, which is a four hour bus ride from a major city. Hopefully that paints a picture as to how remote this place was. Upon arriving, we disembarked with our backpacks to a village whose residents are of African descent.

South America 2008 Ecuador Columbia 0571 300x225 Soccer, A Unifying Force

Stepping onto shore, it was both heartwarming and sad that these people completely welcomed us without any question to their humble village. Heartwarming because it showed the human capacity for goodness and humility and sad because I questioned if these gracious people would be embraced in the same fashion back home.

For five days we lived amongst the great people of San Miguel. They had little to no money and sustained themselves through bartering with different villages that dotted the sides of the river. We celebrated Easter with them, (which was a mix of African and Catholic tradition) we ate with them, danced with them, and of course, played soccer with them.

South America 2008 Ecuador Columbia 109 300x225 Soccer, A Unifying Force

After one of the older teenagers approached me in what appeared to be a combative stance, I thought I might need to talk my way out of a pickle.

But instead he asks in English, “are you English”? “No”, I said. “I am actually American. “ Soon we got lost in language translation. So I fell back on my customary “Tienes una pelota? Donde esta la partida? He replied, “eres un jugador?” (You are a player?) Si, por supuesto. (Yes of course.)

From the time I spoke those words to the time we were playing was no more than five minutes. Soon, all the older kids in the village had joined us and we began our intense game of soccer, San Miguel style.

Soccer, San Miguel style consists of playing on a cement field complete with bits of glass and shards of broken concrete. Oh, and some of the kids play barefoot! Soon the kids are bleeding profusely while we play with a ball no bigger than a large softball.

So here I am playing in a steamy jungle, with kids who are playing barefoot on concrete, and running circles around me.

This was quite humbling for me as I claim a pretty good mastery of the game. We continued this as a daily ritual for the short time we were there. And while language was at times an obstacle, the game of soccer helped level that obstacle if even for 30 minutes.

South America 2008 Ecuador Columbia 100 300x225 Soccer, A Unifying Force

I wanted to share this story because sports, especially soccer can act as a unifying force. In my case it brought together groups of people whose lives couldn’t have been any more different. We see this every four years during the World Cup. There is always one country participating who is suffering from some form of civil strife. Yet whatever is happening in that country at the time, there is always unification around their team and their fellow countrymen. Even for just a month, people can put aside their differences and embrace a similar and powerful cause.

If soccer can help unite a country, think of the impact it can have on the youth around the world. We need to harness the positive power of the world’s greatest game and expose it to as many kids as possible. In the process, we might just end up saving the world.

Coach Adam
Soccer Shots Los Angeles

SSLA Welcomes Adam Marino To The Team

AdamMarino2 224x300 SSLA Welcomes Adam Marino To The Team

We are thrilled to have Adam Marino join our team here in Los Angeles as an Area Manager & Instructor. As a native Californian, Adam brings to Soccer Shots the most important component for your children’s success…Passion.

His passion for travel, soccer, education and working with children make him a perfect fit with Soccer Shots. Starting in 2004 and continuing to the present, Adam has traveled to over 25 countries on three different continents. But it was his six months in South America that changed his life. Working with local and very small communities, he truly saw the importance of education and soccer in providing a positive foundation for families.

With extensive experience in elementary schools, Adam will focus on introducing our unique “older” kid” skills program* (designed specifically for kids ages 6-8) to elementary schools throughout Los Angeles. He graduated with a Bachelors Degree in History and went on further to obtain his Masters Degree in Education from UCLA. Since 2009, Adam has worked in public schools teaching grades 6th through 12th and coaches his niece’s under 6 soccer team. He expands his passion and skills for teaching into every child he coaches.

With his diverse background, Adam looks to spread the name of Soccer Shots, and bring the program to grade school age children throughout Los Angeles.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to bring my love of soccer and teaching to the Soccer Shots team. My philosophy in life is to find your passion and give everything you have to make that passion a reality.”

From this philosophy, Adam strives to ensure that his students and players practice honesty, perseverance, teamwork, and patience. Above everything else, he aims to have kids understand and embrace these beliefs.

* Our “older kid” program is an excellent compliment to AYSO and other soccer leagues. We recommend at least one season of Soccer Shots before beginning a competitive league.

Sharing is Caring

(Guest post from Coach Matthew at Soccer Shots Los Angeles)

Character Word of the Day: Sharing

The class with “SHARING” as the character building word is one of my most rewarding as well as one of the most challenging. Many 3-5 year old children are at the stage where everything is “Mine”. To reinforce the concept of SHARING, I instituted two exercises back to back. I began with explaining the definitions of SHARING. In one instance, a child (who we will call “Danny”) who typically grabs for the white soccer ball and never gives it up, explains to my surprise that SHARING IS CARING. I initially wondered if this would actually translate into practice for this little boy.

Matthew 300x225 Sharing is Caring

That day, I started out with a Halloween game where I throw all the cones onto the field and tell them that all these colorful cones are treats and their job is to dribble to each cone, control the ball, and pick it up. The object is to pick up the most cones. When all the treats are collected we sit in a circle and count how many cones each child has. “Danny” happened to pick up the least amount of cones and was visibly upset. So I said to the group, “who wants to share”? Three children gave him cones! Then I had each child share a treat with another child. Of course after someone shared, the recipient had to say “thank you” and give a high five. We kept doing this until everyone was laughing and high fiving one another.

The next game was going to be the big test. This was the exercise called “Switch” where the children dribble, and when I whistle, everyone runs to another soccer ball because we all SHARE. “Danny” was a little hesitant in giving up his ball until we reminded him about our friends that shared their cones. After that reminder “Danny” enjoyed sharing with his friends because SHARING IS CARING! His Mom even reported that “Danny” shares better at home with his siblings.

Coach Matthew
SSLA