Olympic Games #6: Benefits of Playing Soccer for Kids

Soccer matches started even before the Opening Ceremony, kicking off the Games. Did you know there are some great benefits of playing soccer for kids?

benefits of soccer for kids

Getting to the Olympics as a team member has been an incredible journey of sacrifice and dedication. Where did that journey start? If you read the bios of some of the soccer team members, many of them started playing as preschoolers, kicking around the ball with family and friends. They played in backyards if they were big enough, and playgrounds and parks too.

Any child, not just future Olympic stars, can benefit from playing soccer. Running around and kicking a ball obviously benefits kids physically. Children need to move and be active. At this stage, young bodies and brains are figuring out how to work together. Soccer is an opportunity to do this. Besides coordination, children strengthen their core muscles and gross motor skills.

Besides physically, soccer gives kids a chance to connect with others. One child playing with a ball often attracts a couple more who would like to play too. Kids practice taking turns and sharing. They watch and listen to each other as they interact. Communicating to others will be a life-long challenge and playing soccer provides kids with a relevant situation for doing just that.

Emotionally, soccer can build self-confidence. Emotions are tricky, even for adults. Self-regulation, that is coping with disappointment, frustration, and anger is a critical skill for kids that will impact them whatever they do. That also comes into play in soccer.

On a mental level, kids are learning to make predictions, manage risks, judge their strength and force, and solve problems. During play, kids are very much thinking on their feet.

benefits of soccer for kids

Soccer is a fun game, and we can all use fun in our lives. With all these benefits of playing soccer for kids, is it any wonder soccer is one of the most popular games in the world?

FUN is a Key Element in Sports for Kids and Pros

When Brazil welcomed the world to watch the soccer matches of the World Cup, enthusiasm for the sport of soccer spread far and wide. Although young children are excited to play, how long will that last? Unfortunately, for many children not long enough. Just recently, an article has been circulating called “The real reason why our kids quit sport” and it has the shocking statistic that only 30% of children continue after the age of 13!

young children need fun in sportsPlaying sports encourages children’s learning and development in many ways, so why are so many children choosing to drop out? According to Peter Gahan, involved with player and coach development, “Fun needs to be at the very heart of sport, says Gahan. Even at the elite level, he says, research now shows all athletes need a fun activity in their training session.” Losing the aspect of fun is all too easy, especially if we as parents and caregivers, put too much emphasis on the outcome of a game. A significant reason that kids quit is the adult reactions. Instead of being fun, the game becomes a source  of stress.

Of course, there are other factors that contribute to stress, such as lack of time, unhappy interactions with coaches, lack of connections to teammates, but another important one is internal. Children see themselves as not being good enough. Peter Gahan explained,”They wanted to impress and look good but they couldn’t, [so] they gave up.”

Given this, it’s no wonder more than two-thirds will drop out. Especially for young children, fun and play are the most important aspects of any sport activity. We have all heard that it’s not winning or losing but how we play the game. As far as kids are concerned, the how isn’t all that important either, it’s simply the play. For today’s play-of-the-day, could  your child have some fun and learning with sport PLAY?

Soccer Can Help Kids Get Ready For Kindergarten

There are many ways that soccer can help kids get ready for school or daycare, and learning about winning and losing is one of them. The completion of the first round of soccer means the elimination portion has begun where only the teams that win will play any more games. Coping with wins and losses can be a challenge for adults, so imagine how much harder it is for kids.

soccer fun and learning for young childrenYoung children have likely had some experiences with things not being equal; maybe baby sister gets the cuddle or big brother gets an ice cream treat. However, children’s understanding about what it means to win or lose or what it means to be fair is still developing. Experiences may sometimes be hard but generally, parents and other caregivers try to make learning about winning and losing less hurtful for young children. We can’t shield kids from it all the time, but we can help them learn gently.

When we watch a soccer or other game, nearly everyone is cheering for one team or the other. Kids like to do what they see grownups doing, so they will cheer too. They may know the name of the team and have favorite players. Kids may not be able to count accurately, but they can recognize who is who by their numbers. Kids are not only watching the game, they are also watching us. For kids to cope with winning or not, they need to know that it is safe to lose.

Our reactions to a loss will influence a child. We need to ‘show and tell’ that we feel disappointed but that we accept it. With some days having more than one or two soccer games, kids will have lots of opportunities to watch and hear us.

This will impact children especially when they become more independent at preschool and kindergarten.There are lots more kids than teachers and caregivers in a classroom and not every child can be first in line, or gets a turn that day with the big music drum. Sigh, it’s hard to learn but seeing grownups dealing with winning and losing appropriately can help kids learn this, too. It’s more than a kindergarten readiness skill, it’s a life skill! In the meantime, how’s your team doing at soccer?

Soccer, Soccer: Read All About It and Score!

Instead of paragraphs of reasons about why it’s so important to read to kids for early learning and brain development, here is a graphic ↓↓ that tells a few in just a quick glance. You can use all the excitement about soccer and find some some stories to share with kids of all ages.There are … Continue reading Soccer, Soccer: Read All About It and Score!

Soccer Helps Kids Learn About Opposites

Learning about opposites is quite complicated for young children and needs lots of experiences; soccer can help. The excitement and involvement can help kids with opposites as they watch and play. Some soccer opposites are up-down, in-out, win-lose, happy-sad, big-little, close-far, fast-slow, and these are only a few. In a soccer game, most of the … Continue reading Soccer Helps Kids Learn About Opposites

Soccer Can Help Kids Learn Basic Math Concepts

Have you been watching any World Cup Soccer? Soccer games use some basic math concepts–most important is the score–and can help kids as they learn and develop their number sense. It is easy for kids to understand that each time a ball goes in the net that it is counted. As children sort out that … Continue reading Soccer Can Help Kids Learn Basic Math Concepts

Word Cup Soccer for Kids–Outdoors and Indoors Too

Kids seem to be on the move and physically active all the time, but as parents and caregivers we still need to find ways to encourage and support vigorous movement activities. Vigorous physical play is important for early learning and development and for kindergarten and school readiness too. With hotly contested games at practically any … Continue reading Word Cup Soccer for Kids–Outdoors and Indoors Too