Why We Do What We Do

The message below was sent to us by a parent at Lincoln CDC in Redondo Beach. I love that she notices how our coaches give “specific phrases” in addition to just high fives as well as the “positive behavior support” that our coaches use to encourage children. When we talk about “Stronger Youth. Beyond The Game.” this is a big part of it.

“I want to tell you how much my son looks forward to Soccer Shots at Lincoln CDC — on Monday he woke up and asked, “Is today Soccer shots?” and I had to tell him no it’s on Wednesdays!

I appreciate how your coaches are giving specific praises now (instead of only high fives, for example) — I noticed on the Soccer Shots FB page a post about positive behavior support and how that helps encourage children and more important, help them get self-motivated. It’s great that your coaches are implementing these principles with our young children — noticing what they are doing right and praising their specific actions.

Please pass along my compliments to your coaches — our instructors notice and I as a parent notice the enthusiasm and care your coaches put forth in teaching through Soccer Shots.

I’m so happy that I signed my son up with soccer shots and I hope you continue this program into kindergarten at Lincoln elementary — if you do, I am signing him up for the coming school year!”

New Fall Locations

In addition to the more than 100 schools that we currently serve we love starting relationships with new ones. In just the past couple of weeks the following schools have invited Soccer Shots in to be a part of their weekly program:

MUSE School (Calabasas)
New World Montessori (Palms)
Palisades Presbyterian Nursery School (Pacific Palisades)
Valley Presbyterian School (North Hills)

In addition, we will be offering park classes at a new location on Saturday mornings in the valley, Balboa Park in Encino. Classes will fill up fast, click here to register.

Screen Shot 2013 07 27 at 1.41.56 PM 960x630 New Fall Locations

SSLA Leadership Announcement

AndyBaenaBW SSLA Leadership Announcement

I am pleased to announce that we have added a new position to our leadership team. This is a role that until this month did not exist but one that Alyssa and I feel is necessary in order for our program to continue to grow and improve.

Andy Baena joined our team two years ago coaching just a few classes per week. He was a good coach who had the skills we were looking for but also had plenty to learn. Fortunately he was aware of areas where he could improve, paid close attention to quality people around him, and was eager to learn and improve. This curiosity is a skill that he possesses to this day and one that is highly valued.

Just last year he accepted the position of Assistant Director and began showing serious passion, dedication, and growth within our organization. Coach Andy in one of the finest youth coaches in Los Angeles, no doubt. This is not just my opinion. Andy has the overwhelming support and trust of our team of coaches and directors. And according to the families and schools that we serve Andy is truly remarkable.

Andy is a leader. He leads by example, with the way that he conducts himself in every class with the children, every conversation with parents, and every interaction with our team.

Andy has the rare combination of just having “it” with the kids, charming the staff at the sites that we serve, and amazing the parents of the children in our program.

I am pleased that Andy is now the Executive Director of Soccer Shots Los Angeles. Andy will oversee all facets of the business. He will focus heavily on SSLA team leadership, this includes communicating and reinforcing the SSLA vision and core values, supporting SSLA directors, as well as coach recruiting/training/mentoring. In addition, Andy will oversee all accounts to ensure the development, quality, and performance at schools and parks.

Congratulations Andy. You have earned it. Now let’s get back to work!

SSLA Team Announcement!

AlyssaMcGarigal SSLA Team Announcement!

I have an important and exciting announcement to make!

Most of you know and have worked with Alyssa McGarigal (if you haven’t you will soon). Alyssa has been coach / lead coach with SSLA over the past 20+ months and is now stepping into a new role with us. Having completed her Masters in Counseling from LMU (graduation is next week, Congratulations!) Alyssa is now Director of Program + Community Advancement. Alyssa is a truly remarkable person and I could not be happier about this announcement. All of us will benefit from the expertise, dedication, and passion that she brings to our organization.

We have an amazing team and I am confident that Alyssa brings a set of skills that will advance our program to an even higher level.

She will be responsible for a number of projects, a few examples are:

1) Coach Development (Hiring, Training, Observing, Etc.).
2) Program Development and Research (Represent, advocate, and explain SS to current staff, schools, and organizations)
3) Develop and Oversee the development of camps and park classes.
4) Program Ambassador (Effectively communicate SSLA mission and vision to staff, parents, site directors, and other community members).

More details and information will come from Alyssa and myself in the coming days and weeks, if you have any questions please contact me anytime.

Please join me in congratulating Alyssa and welcoming her into her new role

Leave Competition Out of Early Youth Sports

(Guest post from Robin Tilley, Franchise Support Coordinator, Soccer Shots Franchising)

There are so many aspects of the Soccer Shots model that are worth promoting, and each day I become more and more proud to be a part of something so genuinely good for our youth. Most of the benefits are clear: physically, we promote exercise, coordination, agility and balance, among other abilities. Mentally, we focus on character-building concepts such as teamwork, appreciation and honesty. These items alone set us apart from our competition.

SS GirlBoy Leave Competition Out of Early Youth Sports

But there’s one piece of our program that may sometimes get lost among the other more superficial advantages – the fact that Soccer Shots is non-competitive. I realize this could have been a selling point for parents who believe it’s the best option for their kids, beginners with no experience in sports, and we stress that this is why we’re different than a typical soccer league. But it’s something to keep in mind as kids move through the Mini and Classic programs and into our Premier programs, when children already have experience with the game.

In my opinion, and from what I’ve seen growing up in various organized sports, many parents push their kids too hard. Some pressure their kids into trying out for the best teams, practicing on their own after scheduled sessions, and giving them a hard time if they’re not excelling above the other kids. I’ve seen so many of my friends and former teammates “burn out” and quit at a young age because of the pressure. Luckily, I wasn’t one of those kids. I recently ran my first full marathon, and it got me thinking about what got me motivated enough to do this – and how my background in sports contributed to this.

Compared to some of my close friends, I got a “late” start in soccer, only playing in a basic recreational league until sometime in middle school, before eventually trying out for travel and elite teams. Most of my friends were playing on these advanced teams since elementary school, three or four years before me. My parents, neither of whom were very involved in sports growing up, didn’t even think to pressure me into these teams and didn’t even know much about them. I eventually decided on my own that I wanted more of a challenge, so I asked my parents to try out for the elite team and ended up fitting right in. Even by that point – in 7th or 8th grade – some of my teammates were beginning to resent the sport they had been pressured into playing. Some felt inferior if they didn’t think they were playing up to their parents’ or coach’s expectations.

I slowly excelled and played for higher-level teams, but all at my own pace. When it came time to try out for the JV and varsity teams in high school – at my AAAA high school, known for having consistently competitive teams in the state of Pennsylvania – I essentially skipped over two entire teams – I played for the 8th grade team in 8th grade, and skipped over the 9th grade and JV teams, becoming the only freshman on my varsity team in 9th grade (I also played for JV that year, too). I got some ink in local newspapers and played in the state championship that year (is it OK to toot my own horn if I’m making a point?!). I certainly “peaked” later than many of my teammates and friends, but I’m glad it worked out that way. I never burnt out from the sport I loved and no one pressured me into doing something I didn’t want to. I made my own decisions as I felt ready and driven to do so. And although my collegiate “career” was limited to a short period on Penn State’s club team (which turned out to be too much of a commitment – I was more interested in getting involved with other organizations and jobs), I still play in various local leagues today.

Soccer is only one part of the equation. I’ve always had a passion for running, and I’ve always done it on my own terms – outside of soccer practice and a brief stint in middle school cross country. I’ve always been motivated on my own to run by myself, with very few exceptions. I am 100% certain that I never would have run a marathon if I’d had outside pressure to run at a certain level before this point.

Kids will motivate themselves. They’ll become competitive in a sport or activity if it’s what they’re truly passionate about. I also played softball and swam competitively as a kid, but neither sport was fun enough to me to stick – and that’s OK. I love that at Soccer Shots, we don’t push competition; we simply push fun. And, let’s be honest – a child won’t ever be passionate about something unless they associate it with fun, right?

I vividly remember growing up and hearing certain parents yell at their kids from the sidelines of the soccer field, and even arguing with coaches about their child’s playing time. I’m so grateful that my parents never put that pressure on me, and I’m so proud that Soccer Shots is helping to lay the foundation for a healthier youth sports world filled with happy, confident athletes.


Most Awesome Stellar Sports Class in Los Angeles!

With more than 200,000 votes in, it’s official… Soccer Shots Los Angeles is the Most Awesome Stellar Sports Class in town!

Winner: Soccer Shots

For young ones from ages 3-8, Soccer Shots is a creative athletic program that utilizes soccer to encourage character building lessons, exercise and enjoyment of sports. These programs can take place in your kid’s school, nearby parks or as their next birthday party!

Thank you to all who voted and everyone for your continued support!

Screen Shot 2012 12 14 at 10.56.25 AM Most Awesome Stellar Sports Class in Los Angeles!

School Directors Reference List

Hello School Directors!

Following are a few “highlight points” that prospective partners often wish to know about us while considering inviting Soccer Shots onto their campus (regarding our credentials, space requirements, etc.):

A Nationwide Community of Local Owners/Operators!

Nationwide Soccer Shots will coach/mentor over 100,000 preschool and early elementary age children this year!

– We partner with thousands of schools and parks nationwide.

– Locally, we partner with over 100 schools and parks to teach over a hundred classes weekly!

– And this growth has been achieved in merely ten years in America.

– This year (2013) we will celebrate our 6th anniversary in the greater Los Angeles area.

Praise for Soccer Shots!

– Ranked “#1 Children’s Fitness Program” by Entrepreneur Magazine for the last two, consecutive years for quality of operation!

– We must be doing something right (actually, many things).

– Ask Referrals- please see our “testimonials” tab to learn about some of our many of our glowing parent experiences or…

– Feel free to call any current partner site listed on our web site. Frankly, this type of word of mouth is how we often begin new partnerships because our partner sites have such a great experience with Soccer Shots!

Physical Space Requirements

– Soccer Shots can operate in a space a small as 8 by 10 feet; we do not require a full soccer field!

– Playing Surfaces: Many sites have grass on which we play, but we also play on artificial turf, flat rubber surfaces, and indoor surfaces including wooden gym spaces and tile floors!

Minimum Enrollment

– Soccer Shots can sustain a class at any site with only six children enrolled.

– That said, many sites fill classes (our capacity is 12) and some offer multiple classes due to high demand.

Age Appropriate Programs

We offer three highly specialized and unique programs:

MINI: 2 to 3 year olds
Soccer Shots Mini is a high-energy program introducing children to fundamental soccer principles, such as using your feet, dribbling, and the basic rules of the game.

CLASSIC: 3 to 5 year olds (Pre-K)
For nearly 15 years, Soccer Shots has been introducing soccer exclusively to children ages 3 to 5. Using creative and imaginative games, weekly sessions focus on basic soccer skills like dribbling, passing, and shooting.

PREMIER: 5 to 8 year olds (K-2nd)
This program is for children who are new to soccer or who want to build upon what they have learned in Soccer Shots Classic. Focusing on individual skill, fitness, and sportsmanship, each session provides an opportunity for kids to be challenged through fun games and team competitions.

Local Leadership

– Our founders are former professional soccer players and parents who developed specially designed curriculum that demonstrated a clear understanding of the mental and motor skill developmental readiness of young children.

– All of our coaches are Live Scan cleared (and results provided to all partner sites) after a thorough interview and audition process and none are places without completing our training. Nearly all have strong backgrounds working with both children and soccer to begin with!


– Of course, Soccer Shots is insured and all partner sites are provided with annually updated Certificates of Insurance listing them as “additionally insured.”

Cost & Pricing Options

– Classes typically cost $14 per child per class or $18 per class at parks to cover our rental agreements there.

Elective Enrichment Approach: Most of our partner sites offer Soccer Shots to those interested wherein parents register and pay for their children, NOT the school.

Egalitarian Approach: However, several of our sites do include ALL of their children and pay for their classes, having built into their enrollment fees an extra cost associated with all enrichment classes they provide. Ask about special “group rates” that apply in these cases.


Season Length: Duration of our “seasons” vary, depending on the needs of our partner sites, from 8 to 12 weeks in duration.

Quarterly Seasons: Typically, our sessions start quarterly at the beginning of the school year in September, in January, right after Spring Break and at the beginning of Summer.

How Many Seasons Are Required? Most of our partner sites elect to offer Soccer Shots year round. However, some take summers off and other elect to simply offer a season or two annually, usually Fall and Spring.

Annual Enrollment Option: Some of our partner schools elect to offer annual programs paid for by monthly, automatic draft.

Scheduling Weekly Classes: Soccer Shots meets weekly at partner sites for 40 minute classes at a day and time that is convenient to our partner sites. Classes are available any time, morning or afternoon!

How to Gauge Potential Interest?

– Soccer Shots gladly offers FREE “Demo Days” wherein every child at a school in our age group is involved in a brief, eight to ten minute “demo” class to sample what we do. This allows for prospective sites to see firsthand what we do and determine potential interest of their students and families.

The Little Things

(Guest post from Alyssa McGarigal, Lead Coach, Soccer Shots Los Angeles)

alyssa m 300x300 The Little Things

Back in the beginning of October, I started class taking attendance, and asking the kids, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” I got a few expected DisneyLands, a couple of kids said the beach, and two blew me away… One little boy, about 4 years old said, “To 7-11, and get a slushie.” Another little girl, same age, said, “To a field of flowers, and go picking.”

Too often, as adults, I feel like we forget the little things. I am out there to have fun with the kids, without a doubt.

But I’m often doing upwards of 10 things at once: I am a coach, a referee, a conflict resolver, a friend, a big kid, a nurse, a hug, a deep breath…

I try to be the best part of each and every kid’s day, in whatever way they need me to be. For some it’s the soccer, the games, the exercise, for others it’s the conversation, the high fives, the stickers or the stamps…

Towards the end of October, I experienced one of the hardest days I have ever experienced, and will probably be one of the hardest throughout my future career. We had a tragedy at the Elementary School I am interning at as a School Counselor. I walked out of school that day mentally and emotionally drained. I got in my car, and I drove to the park where I had about 10 minutes before my Soccer Shots class. I set up, I got ready, and I kept telling myself, I can do this.

It wasn’t until the kids got there, we circled up, and we started talking that I felt a little better. We raced across the field for warm up, we hopped around, we made animal noises, little by little, I started to forget the day that I just had.

CoachAlyssa SoccerShots 300x300 The Little Things

The exercise and endorphins, the laughter, the silliness, and happiness of this group of kids were heartwarming. All these things were the little things I needed at the end of a really tough day. Soccer Shots was my field of flowers, my slushie, that day.

In my year and a half with Soccer Shots, I have learned so much! I have gained so much respect and understanding for teachers who spend an entire day with our kids. I have learned an incredible amount from each group of kids: their perspective of the world, their culture, the things that are important to them. I have learned how to be a better teacher, coach, mentor, and person.

Whether it’s a field of flowers, a slushie, some exercise, or hopping around like a frog yelling “RIBBIT” at the top of your lungs; I have been reminded to take time and reflect on the little things, make the best out of any situation, and enjoy life. That’s why I do what I do, and why I coach for Soccer Shots; each class has some “little things” for everyone involved.

The Soccer Shots Way

Soccer Shots is a leader in youth soccer development for children ages 2 (MINI), 3-5 (CLASSIC) and 6-8 (PREMIER). Our nationally recognized non-competitive skills program offers a high energy, fun, age-appropriate introduction to the wonderful game of soccer. 

Our innovative curriculum extends beyond physical activity to incorporate values like respect, sharing, teamwork, encouragement and cooperation. The enhancement of a child’s coordination, balance and agility is often seen immediately, but it is the building blocks being created for a life long love of sports that have the strongest impact. In each 40 minute class, experienced and enthusiastic instructors focus on having fun while guiding children through imaginative games that teach basic soccer skills. Our instructors are energetic and enthusiastic, are great teachers, and love working with children.

We are proud to offer the following unique programs at local preschools, elementary schools, and parks.

CookieMonster 300x225 The Soccer Shots Way


2 to 3 year olds
Soccer Shots Mini is a high-energy program introducing children to fundamental soccer principles, such as using your feet, dribbling, and the basic rules of the game. Through fun games, songs, and positive reinforcement, children will begin to experience the joy of playing soccer and being active.

smiley girl 300x200 The Soccer Shots Way


3 to 5 year olds (Pre-K)
For nearly 15 years, Soccer Shots has been introducing soccer exclusively to children ages 3 to 5. Using creative and imaginative games, weekly sessions focus on basic soccer skills like dribbling, passing, and shooting. We also highlight a positive character trait each session such as respect, teamwork, and appreciation. Soccer Shots will expose your child to the fun of soccer and provide the foundation needed to get started in the sport.

older kids planning 300x200 The Soccer Shots Way


5 to 8 year olds (K-2nd)
This program is for children who are new to soccer or who want to build upon what they have learned in Soccer Shots Classic. Focusing on individual skill, fitness, and sportsmanship, each session provides an opportunity for kids to be challenged through fun games and team competitions. Children will also be introduced to tactical elements of the game as they prepare to play on competitive teams.

Perspective Matters: Seeing Behavior in a New Light

(Guest post from Joel Newman, Director of Soccer Shots Portland)

Yesterday, I experienced a paradigm shift. Over the last 12 months, I’d been watching and thinking about a kid out in Beaverton who loves to act out in our class. It seems, however, that the exact opposite had been happening.

Since our start together, this particular child been acting out in class – using his hands on other kids and generally disrupting the class several times each week. We’d spoken with the teachers to ensure our strategies aligned with theirs. We learned his general background to enable us to have insight and compassion into his behavior. We heard from the child and his parents about how much fun he has with us. We were not letting this one go.

The challenge was that most anything that is established as a behavior is just that – established behavior. So, getting a change – getting a new behavior or an absence of that behavior – entails having purposeful, meaningful interactions to help a child learn new ways to express the sentiment behind the behavior more compassionately or appropriately. To be sure, this boy is sweet, protective, helpful, independent, silly, athletic and intelligent. He’s a bright, fun kid with an oversized heart. However, as I sat down to talk with the director of his school yesterday, the child’s acting out was still on my mind. We’d seen improvement, but not what I’d expected – not over this long a period of time. Was it time to re-strategize?

“Oh no,” she said. “You don’t know what he was doing outside your class.”

She went on to describe a set of behaviors another full notch beyond what we’d seen at Soccer Shots. Her words were a block of wood hitting my head, rattling around facts and lines of thought I’d drawn.

In the wider context of his behavior elsewhere, he wasn’t acting out much at all with us. My head rocked for a minute as a huge paradigm shift occurred: Instead of thinking of him as acting out in our class, I began to see how with us, he may have found a place to act in.