Isaiah started soccer two Saturdays ago. 9/6/08.
He plays with www.metrostarsfc.com under the MicroStars. Practices are held at Oakland University. About 12-16 kids. $90 for 8 sessions. No real soccer games until he turns 6. Noah and Andrea are in it too. I’m thrilled with the way they’ve put together a fun way of introducing soccer to 4 and 5 year olds. I want to capture the little things they did here so that maybe I can play similar games with the boys at home.
Coach picks up the ball and says, “touch your nose” and touches the ball to his nose. The kids laugh and do the same. He then continues and touches the ball to a bunch of different body parts. He then says one body part and then touches the ball to a different part seeing which kids are sharp enough to notice. I like this game because it introduces the idea that the ball can touch many different body parts not just your feet.
Basically playing tag inside a 15 x 15 square made of cones. When he tagged someone they would take the rolled up penny and they were “it”. After playing tag for a while, he then introduced the soccer ball into the game. Everyone had a ball and dribbled inside the square trying not to be tagged and still avoiding the other kids. I like this game because it gently introduces the idea of boundaries. That is, if the kids ran too far away with their ball, he would call them back into the square of cones. Also interesting to notice that he gave them no direction on how to dribble the ball. He just said get your soccer balls and dribble around and try not to get tagged.
Puppies in the Park
They then moved to playing pretend. Coach told the kids that they are walking their puppies through the park. The square of cones was the park, the soccer balls, their puppies. But they had to watch out for the mean park ranger who wanted to take their puppies if they weren’t on a leash. Coach was the park ranger and putting their puppy on a leash meant putting their foot on the ball and stopping it. The kids would then dribble within the circle screaming and laughing because whenever the park ranger got to their puppy and it wasn’t on a leash, he would kick it a little bit outside the square of cones, and the kids would have to go get their puppy and come back. After a few minutes of that, coach declared that he was now a lion, and that lions don’t care about leashes, they just wanted to get the puppy. So now coach was roaring and running around kicking out balls even if they had their foot on the ball. After that, coach stopped play, got rid of all the balls, and then asked the kids what their favorite scary animal is. He told them they were that animal and it was their turn to try and get his puppy. So dinosaurs, and dragons, and cheetahs were chasing scared coach around trying to get his puppy. This was a great game first and foremost because the kids had so much fun playing. While they were playing though, they learned how to try and stop the ball if they needed to, the whole while being cognizant of their surroundings and the ball simultaneously. The good lesson the lion aspect is trying to teach the kids is that they’ll need to put their bodies between the opponent and the ball to protect the ball. When they all chased coach’s puppy, that’s the beginnings of the one ball used in a real game.
Now the coach puts up larger cones spread around in the middle of the square and tells the kids the larger cones are fires and they are firemen. The balls are the buckets of water. They need to put out the fires. He would gather the kids in a corner of the square and then call for firemen. The kids would rush out of the corner dribbling their balls and kick the balls into the cones. Ball control and focus on a specific goal are learned.
That was the first practice. I thought they would play the same games at the second practice. Nope. The coach had all new games.
Now there were 4 sets of smaller squares of cones all arranged in a larger square formation. He declared each would be a restaurant. McDonald’s, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Wendy’s. He would ask the kids where they wanted to eat and they would decide on a place and dribble there. When they got there, someone would be declared the server and they would pass out the flat cones and pretend they were plates and pretend to eat off of them. They would do that and he would switch it up by declaring one restaurant but he himself would dribble to a different restaurant and then see which kids went which way. Dribbling skills and paying attention skills were developed.
Ghosts and Ghostbusters
Now there is one rectangle of blue cones about 15 yards away from another small rectangle of orange cones. The rectangles are haunted houses and the kids stand in the house without balls and are ghosts. Coach is standing between the two haunted houses with his ball and he’s the Ghost Buster. When he yells, “who you gonna call?!” The kids yell, “Ghostbusters!” and run from one haunted house to the other. While they’re running he tries to kick the soccer ball at their feet. If it hits them, they become Ghostbusters the next time. Slowly there becomes more Ghostbusters than Ghosts and the kids learn evasion tactics as ghosts and ball control when kicking as Ghostbusters.
Again, I’m thrilled with how they’re going about introducing game concepts to the kids.
When Isaiah laughs and plays like that, all my insides get happy.