The World Cup is upon us again, which means soccer in America, but futbol or football, to the rest of the world, will again take hold of anyone that tunes in. Those guys on television playing for their country have a lot of skills, and while natural talent makes a world of difference, training is just as important.
Which leads me into the soccer that most Americans love—watching their kids play. Whether the kids are playing at the high school, junior high, or even U12 level, there are always coaches there ready to put them through a series of drills. While high school or affiliated soccer is generally funded pretty well, in the younger leagues, when kids are most impressionable, the coaches are generally volunteers.
Finding cheap training aids is necessary to keep practice new and interesting, and luckily YouTube is loaded with lots of drills that many coaches and professional trainers have shared. Still, finding that equipment can be tough. Luckily, Amazon has a great selection.
While the good old fashioned stop watch has been replace by the smartphone (it’s important that kids see they have improved and gotten faster or better at something), setting up a course to train through is just as important.
For under seven dollars twelve of those low profile training cones can be picked up, and for purists those traditional pylon cones can be picked up for around $13. Of course, to keep the kids really interested those professional looking fiberglass flags can be purchased for a price of around $30 for ten of them. I’m not sure why the kids love dribbling through flags but they do.
Another cool piece of equipment that is reasonably priced is the Skilz Agility Ladder, which is basically a rope ladder placed on the ground that offers a series of drills to improve foot speed and agility, which are pretty important in the world of soccer.
Of course, goals are important as well, but most volunteer coaches get to conduct their drills on the game fields which means they are pretty much available. In addition, the really important aspect of soccer is the ball, and most kids will have one of these readily available (along with a nice supply of energy).
The bottom line is that new drills and new games keep practice interesting and fun, and even in U12, U10, or U8 keeping the kids focused is just as important as teaching them the fundamentals of the game. Great equipment doesn’t cost a ton of money, but the attention of a ten year old is priceless.