I am a big proponent of touches on the ball. As a matter of fact, there is very little that will make a bigger difference in your child’s success as a soccer player than simply touching the ball.
That being said, there is one thing you can do to help your child be a better soccer player that doesn’t even require them to touch a soccer ball!
My daughter is 8 years old. In the past couple years she has grown by leaps and bounds as a soccer player. I attribute a fair amount of that to her and I spending time out in the backyard kicking the ball back and forth and working on the fundamentals.
As a matter of fact, that’s how I came up with the 7 Soccer Moves Your Kid Will Love — they are moves that MY kid loves!
But there is one simple thing that I have done with my daughter without even touching a soccer ball or leaving my house, for that matter, that has had a HUGE impact on her ability as a soccer player.
What have we done?
We watch soccer on television.
That’s right, we sit on our couch, eat food and just watch professional soccer.
That’s my big secret weapon…and it has paid off BIG TIME.
No joke, my daughter has dramatically improved as a player since I started having her sit down and watch professional games with me.
Since the Olympics are on right now, here are 3 reasons you should be watching professional soccer matches with your child if you want to improve.
1. Your child will see what it’s “suppose” to look like
Let’s be honest, when you watch a bunch of 5 year olds (or heck, even sometimes 12 year olds) playing soccer, it doesn’t really look like soccer.
There’s a reason they call it “bunch ball”. The kids don’t understand how the game is suppose to be played, so they just all run after the ball…in a bunch.
Soccer is often referred to as The Beautiful Game, and when you watch professionals playing it, you can start to see why.
Your child will see why it is important to find space in a game, not bunch up, keep playing until the whistle blows, keep running at the ball until it goes all the way in the net, how to get open for a pass, how to look for a pass, how to run off the ball, the importance of being able to dribble, and a million other things — just by watching professionals do it!
2. You can play “Spot the move”
This is one of the most fun things my daughter and I do when we watch soccer on television. I tell her to watch for moves that she has learned as we’ve been practicing in our backyard.
There is nothing more fun for me as a dad than watching a soccer game and hearing my daughter shoutout “DAD!! Did you see that dragback?!!?”, or “Dad, he just did a stepover!”.
It’s a lot of fun, and it helps her understand how the moves we practice can actually be used in a game setting.
3. It gives new context for your backyard practices
Building on reason #2, when your child sees a move used in a game that they have practiced, it makes them more determined to keep practicing! They understand how the move fits into a game now and therefore it’s more fun to learn!
If you watch soccer with your child, it allows you to use the game and the players as examples when you’re in the backyard.
Many times I will say things like, “Do you remember how Dempsey cut the ball back in the game last night so he had space to shoot? Well, that is why we learn this move, so that you can get space to shoot when you’re playing too!”
All of a sudden you don’t have to be the perfect example of how to do the move, you can let the players on TV be the examples!
These are three great reasons to flip the channel over to watch a soccer game or two during the Olympics — or catch a Major League Soccer game throughout the year (you can find games on Fox Sports and ESPN from March – November).
When you start looking for the moves that you and your child have been practicing, I promise you won’t think the game is nearly as boring as everyone says they are. You will really start to enjoy watching The Beautiful Game — and you’ll be spending time with your child! Win-win!