Los Angeles Coaching Story: “Aha!” Moment

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

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I had an “Aha!” moment last week in regards to how to get the kids engaged and enthusiastic about what we’re doing at Soccer Shots. At the school where I’m teaching, I had a short meeting with the principal to talk about the children’s progress and behavior. We identified some of the kids that were getting out of hand and those that were not engaged in the games we were playing. She gave me some tips on how to handle them. Coaches, don’t be afraid to ask for advice!

We separated the children into 2 classes by age and ability. The next week the results were amazing!

The students were more engaged and paid better attention as well as behaved better as a group. I was also able to give them more attention instead of chasing them to keep them present.

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Also there was one boy in the class who was always quiet, reserved, tended to wander off. This week he happened to be the only boy in the class. All of a sudden he was excited, coming to me to make sure I saw him score a goal. He took it on himself to help set up the cones for the games we were playing. The dynamic was very interesting. He took on a more alpha role since there were no other boys in the group.

I suggest that coaches mix up the classes if you can. Parents, experiment during your play dates with different mixes of ages and gender. Observe how your child reacts. If you can manage it, watch when he thinks you’re not there vs. when he knows you’re watching. You’ll be surprised by the results!


Improving Childhood Fitness Through Soccer

(Guest post from Carly at Soccer Shots Harrisburg)

All too often, I’m shocked when reminded of the current need to get kids off the couch. Whether it’s reading a news story about the government’s “Let’s Move!” campaign or hearing a “Play 60 a Day” ad, it’s hard to believe that we have to beg children to play. When I was young (and I’m not that old!), it was as if my parents had to pull teeth to get my sisters and I to STOP playing and come inside for dinner. In fact, finding us outside was such a chore, that Mom and Dad attached a rope to the large iron bell in the cupola on top of the garage and rang it when and it was time to come in. We spent hours in the woods building forts, in the creek catching crayfish, or even just in a neighbor’s yard, making up dances to the latest Madonna song.

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Most of these memories took place a little more than two decades ago, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says in just the past 20 years the prevalence of children who are obese has doubled, while the number of adolescents who are obese has tripled. So how does that translate into actual numbers? The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found nearly one in three children and teens are overweight and one in six are obese. Some may argue that BMI, or Body-Mass-Index, isn’t the “best” way to determine whether or not someone is overweight, but consider this: Kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of seven and a half hours each day using entertainment media. According to the Let’s Move campaign website, this includes TV, computers, video games, cell phones and movies. Although some may blame modern technology for making these activities more prevalent and more accessible, we can all agree being sedentary is a huge health risk.

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On a daily basis, when I get to leave the office and head out to a Soccer Shots site to coach, I feel the sun on my face, the wind in my hair and the mud beneath my shoes and I feel like the luckiest person alive. I get to revert back to the times when I ran around the neighborhood laughing and burning energy. I get to be a kid again. I get to play! Better yet, I experience the feeling that our organization is making a difference. If the little ones we work with associate a positive feeling or a sense of joy with physical activity, we are on our way to reducing health risks associated with childhood obesity. I’m proud that my job allows me to teach kids to play a game that doesn’t involve a controller.

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My hope is that the activity doesn’t stop when kids leave our preschool soccer classes. It is my hope that kids share the games we play and parents see the activities we demonstrate in our webisodes. Just a few minutes each day being Cookie Monster or a Rabbit or Turtle could really get parents laughing…. and kids playing!

Why Soccer Shots Is Here In Los Angeles

AlyssaCharlie Why Soccer Shots Is Here In Los Angeles

Hi, my name is Alyssa Heim and I’m co-owner, with my husband Rian, of Soccer Shots in LA. We are 4 years strong and getting stronger! We are in over 65 preschools in the Los Angeles area!  Someone recently asked us why we decided to make Soccer Shots our family business.  We both wanted to run a business together that impacted youth in our local community. I come from a background in teaching youth at risk and constantly am reminded of the importance of providing a strong emotional and physical foundation for kids.  We both hold a strong belief that socialization skills and group activity are a vital part of the development of our youth as they learn and grow.  And Voila!  Soccer Shots LA was born!

And now that we have a child of our own, it’s not just a business…it’s an adventure!  Ha ha, ok it sounds corny but it really has become a way of life for us.  And we try to maintain that consistency in our work and our home life.   Ever since becoming a mom, (just over a year ago) I have tried my hardest to provide all things healthy for Charlie, such as breastfeeding, making all of his pureed baby foods out of organic fruits and vegetables and continuing to feed him all of the top quality foods with variety and different tastes and textures.  This philosophy will then continue into his physical activity.  But for now it’s play dates, toddler classes and a lot of trips to the park.  In the future I look forward to signing him up for Soccer Shots classes, trips to museums and chasing him around the zoo!

And that future is coming quickly now that Charlie is starting to walk (with a hand or a walker…or anything that moves!) It is so much fun for me to watch his excitement in accomplishing such a minor task as walking up and down our walkway.  It’s obvious that he looks at us for approval and a clap or cheer.  He’s not able to kick a ball yet, but it’s coming soon!  The size 3 soccer ball is constantly being tossed and rolled across our living room though. We want to duplicate that same positive experience, that sense of achievement in our students!  So we train our coaches on role modeling positive energy and feedback and how to play non-competitive soccer games created to make the children feel excited and accomplished.  We really strive to create a healthy, happy environment for your children and ours!


The Importance of Role Modeling in a Child’s Life

Positive role modeling is key in any child’s development and learning process. Our children learn by watching and emulating before they can even process verbal commands. Aristotle believed that with positive role modeling we learn virtue and honor in the context of socialization. Let’s think about this for a minute…How do those around our children (teachers, family members, parents, friends) deal with various situations? Are they happy, energetic, caring, angry, disapproving?

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It’s important to provide positive role modeling throughout our children’s lives. It gives them an example of how to react in certain situations, a figure to aspire to as they grow up, goals to reach as they experience life, a pattern of behavior that they will copy as they mature.

With that in mind, Soccer Shots’ innovative curriculum extends beyond physical activity to incorporate values like teamwork, encouragement and cooperation. The enhancement of your 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 35-40 minute class, our experienced and enthusiastic instructors focus on having fun while guiding your children through imaginative games that teach basic soccer skills. Our trained instructors are energetic, great teachers, love working with children and strive to be a positive influence in their lives!

We believe it is important that all children have a positive first experience with organized sports. Our goal is simple: to leave a lasting, positive impact on every child we serve.

Can 3-5 Year Olds Really Play Soccer?

Yes, they can!

Soccer Shots Los Angeles specializes in Pre-K aged students so we feel we can totally answer that one, hands down! Our expertise is running enrichment programs that use non-competitive soccer games to teach 3-5 year old children socialization skills such as listening, following directions, team building and physical agility. And soccer is our “spoon full of sugar.”

It’s child first, soccer second. We strongly believe that through innovative and creative non-competitive games, positive role modeling and just plain having fun, children will learn how to work together, have fun and learn at the same time.

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Our Goals (get it?) and Coaching Philosophy:

To approach every session with two objectives: FUN for every child and LEARNING new skills and concepts. These two objectives work together, and our mission is not fulfilled if both objectives are not sought.

To make the experience POSITIVE for every child enrolled. Small accomplishments for some can be HUGE! We take a “you can do it!” approach to everything we teach. Constant encouragement is essential to this philosophy.

To influence children in areas of healthy living habits – we talk about eating right, exercising daily, taking care of our bodies (warm up/ stretch), and enjoying activity, even if it’s not soccer.

To influence children in areas of strong character: Character traits such as leadership, a teachable spirit, positive attitude, and encouragement are just a few examples of character traits we hope to pass on to the children we work with.

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To Achieve Goals:

• 30-40 minute sessions, once a week for 8-10 weeks with maximum of 12 children in each class.

• We go into the schools where the children are in a familiar setting, learning something new with their friends.

• Each session has a specific lesson plan integrating games and activities for the children to play.

• Each week a set goal is reached by the end of class to create a sense of accomplishment and job well done.

• Our soccer coaches are not volunteers but trained professionals who excel in positive role modeling, high energy, creativity and a love of the sport.