It isn't long after learning to walk that your toddler will begin practicing other large motor skills such as running, jumping and kicking. Soccer naturally complements and hones these new movements while introducing your child to the basics of group sports and teamwork. Toddlers who begin learning basic soccer techniques at such a young age also develop a physical advantage and can master more advanced techniques sooner. When teaching your toddler soccer techniques, remember to keep your instructions brief and have fun.
Dribbling is the foundation for soccer. Because players are not allowed to use their hands during play, kicking the ball is the primary way to move it around the field. Start teaching your toddler to dribble by first marking a line on grass with chalk or tape. Your line should be a short distance at first, roughly 3 to 5 feet. Lengthen it to increase the difficulty once your child has mastered this distance. Place a toddler-size soccer ball on one end of the line and encourage him to kick it down the line. Teach your toddler to begin using the inside of his foot rather than his toe for better control.
Soccer is a team sport, so learning to pass is another important foundation skill. Start by setting the soccer ball directly in front of your toddler, stepping back 3 to 5 feet and instructing her to kick the ball toward you. Passing also involves receiving balls that other players pass to you, so teach your toddler to receive a pass. After she kicks the ball to you, demonstrate how to stop its rolling with your foot. "Now, it's your turn. Are you ready?" you might say. Lightly kick the ball to her feet. At first, your child may just stand there and wait for the ball to come to her, and that's okay. Encourage your toddler to move her feet and body around to trap the ball at her feet. If you're practicing with a group of toddlers, gather together in a small circle and practice passing to each other.
Toddler soccer games are often called "mob soccer" because the game normally consists of a group of toddlers all kicking the same ball at the same time down the field. To help your toddler move past the "mob soccer" phase, practice scoring goals. Start by setting up a toddler-size goal or designating two flags or cones to be the goal area. Stand a few feet away from the goal and place a ball at your toddler's feet. Instruct him to kick it into the goal and score. When he has mastered this, try rolling a ball toward his feet and encouraging him to run to the ball and kick it toward the goal.
Young soccer players tend to stand still when the ball is passed to them. Toddlers especially focus on getting the ball to their feet and will wait for it. In soccer, it is important to move toward the pass to prevent players on the opposing team from getting the ball first. Build your toddler's dynamic passing skills by setting up two cones 2 to 3 feet apart. Instruct your toddler to stand at one cone. Pass the ball to the second cone, and have your toddler run to the second cone before the ball reaches it and stop it with her feet. Increase or decrease the difficulty of this activity by changing the distance between the cones or the strength of the pass.
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