Childhood today couldn't be more different to fifty years ago, when kids played out in the streets in the evenings and at weekends, free as birds. Today's children don't play in the streets. And that means it's a challenge, sometimes, to get all the vital physical exercise they need to stay fit and healthy as they grow.
No wonder football training for kids is so popular, for girls and boys of every age. It's a brilliant way to get them moving, enjoying the company of their team-mates and socialising afterwards. So what kind of activities will your child find themselves involved in when they join a local football coaching for kids class?
1. Tag – The perfect warm-up exercise
Your child needs to warm up first, and tag games make an excellent footie warm-up, great for focusing the mind and preparing the body for activity. A good warm up means they'll have less risk of injury, a bigger range of movement, increased body temperature, plus a fully activated cardiovascular and respiratory system. Warming up is also beneficial for mental preparation, clearing the mind and focusing on just one task.
A game of tag is an excellent example. One person is nominated as 'it', and they have to run around and try to 'tag' another player, who then becomes 'it'... and so on. It sounds simple but if you can remember how exciting a big game of tag was at school, you'll understand how much fun it is and how much running around it involves. It's just as important to cool down after exercise, and a short game of tag also helps with that.
2. The passing circle – Perfect for practising accuracy and timing
The passing circle involves splitting the players into two teams and marking a large circle on the ground. Half the kids stay inside the circle, the rest stay outside it. Players inside the circle have to pass the ball to someone outside it, then move along the circle and pass the ball to another outsider. The insiders have to avoid each other while making accurate passes, something that works wonders for youngsters' accuracy and timing on the passes, and the weight they put on each pass. This session also helps in building team spirit and improving communication skills.
3. Staying in the square – Learning to open up space
This one's brilliant for teaching kids about opening up space and finding areas to play in an actual game of football, even when it looks like there's no space to be had. Make a square on the grass using cones or jumpers or whatever you have to hand. Make it any size you like, bearing in mind the smaller the square the harder the game. Split the players into two teams, attack and defence. The attackers must keep the ball inside the square, but it's the defenders' job to kick the ball outside the square. The game gets even better when you have twice as many attackers as defenders, and the more confined the square is the harder the players have to work to find space.
4. Catch me if you can – Brilliant for developing good dribbling skills
This is a superb way to acquire better dribbling skills. Make a ten metre square grid and put a player on two of the corners opposite one another, each with a ball. The players have to dribble their balls around the outside of the grid and try to catch up with the other player. When the coach calls 'stop', the players have to stop the ball. When the coach shouts 'turn' both players have to change direction and go the other way around the square.
5. The central combination – Receiving the ball, possessing it, and passing it
Passing, receiving and possession are three of the most important ball skills your child will achieve, and this game helps them learn all three. Make a 20m square, again bearing in mind that smaller spaces mean more challenging games. Put one midfield player in the middle of the square and split the rest of the players into even lines on the four corners. A player in a corner starts things off by passing the ball to the central player, then running down the sideline, joining the back of the queue again when they reach the other corner. The player in the middle plays a first-time ball to someone at the next corner, and the game continues until everyone is back in their original starting position. It's all about the rhythm, the flow of movement and good communication.
6. Football training for kids - The one-on-one shooting drill
This game focuses on passing combinations and goal scoring, loads of fun and a really good way to polish up a child's goalie and scoring skills. It's extra fun trying to force the other player to become the goalie.
First, set up a diamond-shape grid on the pitch about 20m from the goal, using cones of jumpers or kit bags, and make each corner about 12m apart. You need one player at corners 2, 3 and 4, and the rest line up behind the first corner next to a supply of balls. One player starts in goal.
Player 1 passes to player 2, then follows the pass and moves to player 2's position. Player 2 passes to player 3 and moves into a defensive position. Player 3 passes to player 4 and takes their place. Player 4 gets the ball and takes player 2 on in a one-on-one battle to score. If player 4 doesn't score in the one-on-one, they become the goalie. If player 4 scores, the goalie stays where they are. It's fast, furious, and teaches your child a host of essential passing and goal scoring skills.
If your child adores the beautiful game, needs more exercise or just loves running about outdoors, football training for kids could be the perfect activity, sociable as well as fun and proven to improve your little one’s physical and mental health
Want to enroll your child on a football training for kids class? Get in touch with the team at Pro Elite Football Academy who are bound to have a session close to where you live.