Youth Soccer Skills
One of the more abstract youth soccer skills
is multitasking. Soccer requires total body coordination,
which in itself is multitasking. It also requires athletes
to strategize, move physically, and control their actions
based on changing conditions on the field. This ability to
multitask is something that comes with age and development,
but should not be overlooked by coaches.
When teaching youth soccer skills
like multitasking, coaches should build slowly from one thing
to the next. For example, a coach could ask athletes to run
down the field. Once proficient in running, coaches can add
a ball, asking athletes to kick the ball in front of them
Once proficient there, coaches can add a defender
while athletes run with the ball. Finally, coaches can add
another offensive player, encouraging athletes to work strategically
to keep the ball in their possession while changing from one
player to the next.
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skill all good players develop is the speed burst. This
allows athletes to challenge their opponent when playing one-on-one
and will give the element of the surprise to the faster player.
A speed burst is simply when a player draws on their energy
reserves to quickly increase their momentum in either running
or ball handling, allowing that player to go around an opponent
or otherwise gain the upper hand.
A speed burst can be taught by building fast-twitch
muscle fibers. To build the correct type of muscle for this
move, coaches should work with athletes on sprints and other
fast exercises. By forcing the body to respond quickly and
for a short period of time, athletes build fast-twitch muscles
and prime their bodies for the correct response during competition.
Other exercises that build fast-twitch muscles
are squat jumps and anything that requires an explosive burst
of energy followed by periods of downtime or reduced exercise.
Much of weight training can be considered fast twitch, though
younger players should weight train with extreme caution.
Though many would think that balance is not
a skill, without it, athletes will find themselves behind
an opponent every time. Balance can be improved, making it
a skill. For soccer, it is especially useful because of the
frequent stops and starts required to effectively handle the
ball. Athletes without balance will not be able to react quickly,
respond to changes in the game, and be as sure-footed as their
Of all youth soccer skills, balance may be one
of the hardest to practice. Athletes can go through a series
of exercises to improve balance, such as standing on two feet
on a short ledge and slowly backing the heels off the ledge
until the player is balancing on the toes. When the athlete
is comfortable there, they can lift one foot and focus on
balancing on only one foot.
However, the best way to improve balance needed
for youth soccer skills is to work on core strength. Though
balance is tied to the workings of the inner ear, it is also
tied to core strength. By core strength, coaches should be
thinking abdominal and lower back strength, as well as obliques
and other stabilizing muscles.
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