Many professional soccer players mention that they began playing the sport at a very young age. A parent, usually their dad, was a huge fan of soccer and wanted to get them into it as soon as they could walk!
This is why you see soccer introduced to children as young as 3-years old and many parents asking questions such as:
“What age should I introduce my child to soccer?”
“Is 6 months old too young to start soccer training?”
Okay so that last one was a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point. The idea of giving your children a head start in life is at the forefront of yours and most parents mind. We get that, it is not by any means a negative thing.
If you are a parent or a teacher, you can organize such a program for your young ones to let them have fun and gain an active hobby early in life that will stick with them over the years.
When it comes to soccer practice for 3-year-olds, the adult conducting the sessions needs A LOT of patience when dealing with kids; most of them want to have fun. The game is not yet the serious, win-lose game of adults.
They will get most things “wrong”, consistently – the key to being a good coach for them is understanding that wrong is not wrong as you know it to be; wrong for a preschooler is and will always be a learning opportunity.
Here are things to know and follow when dealing with three-year-olds in soccer practice.
1. Exercise Patience
As earlier mentioned, you have to be patient with the kids in practice for an easier and more enjoyable time. If you are taking a coach’s role, you should treat all of them equally and ensure they enjoy the game. You might find out that most of them do not fully understand soccer, so you have to gradually introduce them to the playstyle.
Do not have them sitting around listening to you talk for too long though, they get restless! This was one of the things I found with a club I took my 3-year-old to; they had them sitting around watching each player and had to wait their turn.
They were so bored and restless, it wasted so much time and they all should have been active with multiple balls flying across the room from the start. They learn through play – anything else goes in one ear and out the other as their little minds wander.
If you are a parent, another way to draw their attention to soccer is by letting them watch games. It can be by older children on the pitch or on TV or videos. My children absolutely LOVE watching Supa Strikas and that was what really gauged their interest to play.
Check it out… I warn you, though – it is awfully addictive and has many episodes. It was actually a hidden gem for my family!
2. Teach the Basics
Considering that they are young, the kids have a lot to learn. Therefore, you need to have an excellent program to ensure they understand the concept of soccer. You can start by teaching kicking skills, where you assign each player with a ball. This exercise should be fun, and you can bring on colorful balls to draw their interest.
Also, teach them basic dribbling, where you encourage them to run with the ball for a given distance. Slowly they will grasp the standard rules and understand the gameplay.
3. Incorporate Fun Drills
When in practice, you should incorporate fun drills and other ball related games to encourage their participation. A thing to understand is that they are still young, and they have shorter attention spans.
Use props like cones and sacks to create games. Look up some fun drills or make your own. We have a number of items you can add to your training bag listed here:
If you concentrate on giving extensive soccer lessons, they will get bored and lag in the field.
You can even allow leeway on some rules like hand-ball, as many regulations can make the play overbearing to them. You can introduce the rules gradually as they grow older.
4. Make Practice Consistent
Attracting a three-year old’s interest in sports is hard, so you have to be consistent to maintain it. If you are a parent, you can let them play with the soccer ball at least once a day and spare two to three days in the week to go for practice with other kids. Being consistent is crucial for their enjoyment, and you may also know if they love it or not, depending on their behavior.
Soccer is. a great, enjoyable sport, way to keep children fit and inspire them to lead a healthy lifestyle from early. Not only that, but there are many skills required to execute certain moves within the sport which further develop children’s motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Introducing soccer to your child when they are young is a great move, as they have enough time to nurture their skills. On your part, it will be a fun and interesting activity, beneficial for the entire family.
I hope that this post has shown you how to expertly handle soccer practice for 3-year-olds. Just remember to always be patient to get the best out of your young one or team.
You might find these posts useful if you intend on;
- Being a good youth soccer coach or parent.
- Getting the most out of your play sessions with your little one.
- Developing your child’s whole character and not just their footwork.
If you are a soccer coach and want to improve your coaching sessions, the best way to do this is to get feedback from your team in a simple and non-intrusive way. You can download our free training session feedback form here.