All Kids Need to Develop Into Top Players – and Have Fun

Youngsters develop a lot of good and bad habits in their early years, and not just the ability to be lazy around the house or forgetting to do their homework. In a sporting sense, it’s the early years that often define what kind of sportsman or woman you’re going to become based around your initial enjoyment and ability, and then the skills you learn in the years that follow. Some are naturally blessed with pace, quick feet or excellent hand-eye coordination, while others have to work particularly hard at their game.

footballkidsFootball is the kind of sport you try out as a youngster and you either love it or hate it. Some people look like naturals with a football, never too far away from a ball whether they’re in the house, out in the garden or in the park with their friends – some even pack a ball in their school bags before their books to make sure they’ve got one for break times. As a result, parents and coaches tend to look for methods of turning these football fanatics into the next big stars of the game, especially if they’ve already made an impression in their school or club side by banging the ball into the net on a regular basis or leaving opposition defenders mesmerized by their tricks. In many cases though, all they need is a ball, a goal and some football nets from The Soccer Store plus a few cones or obstacles and – of course – a pair of boots.

There’s no need to spend thousands of pounds on the modern equipment to try and mold a young player into a future superstar, it’s about enjoying the game. Too many young sportsmen and women are pushed so hard in the early stages that they fall out of love with the game or suffer from “burnout” where the last thing they want to see is a football pitch. Just the feeling of kicking a ball around with their friends or family should be enough in the early stages, allowing them to develop naturally by working out what they’re good at and what needs working on.

Raw talent can be seen as just that, but trying to get even more out of them at an early stage, before they’re ready, can be highly detrimental and there have been a lot of top players who have fallen out of professional academies because they lost their passion for the game.

In order to encourage our youngsters to enjoy their football, the only equipment we should be investing in are the ones that are essential to their games. Footballs and boots are all you really need in order to play the game – everything else can be adapted or bought later. Rather than letting them sit around in front of the television or games console, encourage them to go and kick a ball around in the garden, dribbling between several garden ornaments or pieces of furniture to work on their control, or putting something in the way of most of the goal in the garden so they can work on their precision.

That is how all of the game’s greats learned to play, juggling a ball on their own, passing against a wall, and then taking their own natural skills into kick arounds with friends and, eventually, competitive situations with their school or club. Encouraging them to have fun and to express themselves on the pitch is far more important than making them “the next…”

This article was written by freelance writer and mother of three, Kathryn Thompson.  Follow her on Twitter: @katht35

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