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?

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.

“Help please…” and other hard conversations…

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...

The Importance Of Having Fun

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Matt)

Matt The Importance Of Having Fun

This seems obvious. After all it’s the first rule of Soccer Shots. But it’s amazing how much truly having fun with my classes can change everything. First and foremost the kids will always respond and feed off of my energy. So if I’m genuinely and truly having fun with a class then they feel that and can’t help but have the time of their lives.

By having fun with my classes I know I’m truly present. I’m engaged in each moment and listening and observing my kids closely.

In my free time I do improv comedy and in improv, when you’re not sure what to do with a scene we’re always told to “follow the fun.” The same can always apply to my soccer classes. If a kid gets distracted by an airplane flying overhead my instinct is to stop them and redirect them back to whatever I’m trying to teach. But let’s face it, airplanes are AWESOME! They’re a marvel of science and technology. I’m a grown man and I still can’t fully comprehend how a giant metal bird can take off from the ground, maintain flight and hurtle through the air at hundreds of miles and hour then land relatively gracefully back on the ground. So there’s no reason a child shouldn’t stop what they’re doing whenever they see one, point and shout, “AIRPLANE!” If I’m having fun with my class I’m going to embrace that moment and say “Let’s all be airplanes!” and run around the field with our arms outstretched before I steer the kids back to focusing on our lesson.

 The Importance Of Having Fun

Perhaps most importantly for me, play leads to creativity. By playing with the kids and following what they naturally find fun I’m constantly discovering new games to add to the Soccer Shots repertoire. The most recent of which is my new game Marching Band. In this game we take a break from soccer to have some fun and make some noise. I let the boys and girls choose an instrument; either a drum (a soccer ball), a pair of cymbals (two flat cones), or a horn (a tall cone). This introduces the concept of choice to the children (which is especially great for the 2­ year­ olds). It can take the craziest or laziest of classes and really get them engaged. It started when some kids in Coach Alyssa’s class began using two flat cones as “clappers” to cheer on their teammates while doing one­ on­ ones. I took that concept and ran with it. Already my kids are following the fun with this game and taking it to the next level. I’ve already had children beat a “drum” with a “cymbal” and even had a 2­ year­ old delight me with his air guitar skills on a tall cone.

Whether you’re an educator, a parent, or a caregiver I urge you to try to take the time to leave your grown­ up stressors and inhibitions at the door when you spend time with your kids. It can be tough for an adult to play on the level of a toddler especially when other people are watching or when you’re overworked or you’ve under slept. Do your best though. Make a real effort to dive right in and be fully engaged and I guarantee that by truly having fun with your children you will reach a new level of connectedness with them and open new doors of creativity, learning, and love.

Fun Soccer Games to Play at Home with your Preschoolers

(Guest post from Soccer Shots Franchising)

Soccer Shots is a youth soccer program for toddlers to elementary school children where we use soccer to teach more than just fundamentals of the game.

Our curriculum also works on character development such as teamwork, and appreciation plus physical development like coordination and motor skills.

We do this through fun, noncompetitive games that use imagination and creativity.

As a leader in the field of soccer for toddlers to 8-year-olds we know the importance of continuing children’s physical education at home and want to share a game that parents can do with their children. This at-home game will help your child not only learn to pass the ball with control but will also get them running around and having fun.

Passing is a basic skill that is simple to learn and practice. First step is to dig out a soccer ball (or one of similar size) and show your child that when passing, it is best to use the inside of your foot. Doing this allows for a straighter, more controlled pass. If you kick with your toe, there is less of a chance the ball goes where you intended because you have less control.

Now it’s game time! Here’s a simple exercise to help your child practice their passing: Tunnel Game.

The idea is to have your child properly pass the ball between your legs, or “the tunnel”. Once they pass it, it’s their job to run past you to retrieve their ball and do it again. You can vary the distance depending on your child’s ability and make sure they continue to use the inside of their foot. You may also try using the other foot too, that way they start learning to use both feet.

Take turns with your child so you can be the passer too.

Spending time playing with your child is quality time that is more meaningful and profound than you may think. Beyond bonding, you will be instilling the importance of an active lifestyle plus, we bet you’ll have fun too!

“It Takes A Village”

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

One little girl spent an entire season sitting on the sidelines. In fact, she would complain of being too tired to play and ended up lying down most of the class. I had a meeting with her teacher and discovered this behavior occurred in class as well.

Matthew 300x225 It Takes A Village

Along with the Director of the school, we spoke to the parent as to our concerns of her daughter’s well-being. We suggested that she first have her daughter checked out by her doctor.

After finding out that she had no physical issues, we all encouraged the mother to enroll her daughter the following season of Soccer Shots.

At this time, I told her mother not to push too hard because children, with a little encouragement and patience, have a way of turning things around in their own time frame.

I reinforced that children learn and engage differently and this is not a reflection of her parenting. I remained very patient and gave her the space that she needed while continuing to offer encouragement.

This little girl ended up being the first to volunteer in every class. She was fully engaged and we could not get her off the soccer field after class ended.

All that was needed was patience, a little time and encouragement from a team that cared deeply about this child.

Coach Matthew, SSLA