Young players can take instructions like 'make the pitch big' and 'check your shoulders' very literally - so take a different approach, says HANNAH DUNCAN MORE
Learning at home is key to development
Tom Byer is out to revolutionise the way children play soccer. His approach is to reach out to soccer parents before their youngsters start playing in a team – learning at home is key to creating great players. He spoke to Soccer Coach Weekly about why this is important and tells us how to do it in his book Soccer Starts at Home®.
Soccer Starts at Home® shares a really simple, unique, forward thinking message that soccer skills can and should begin at home. This isn’t so much a soccer program as much as a developmental message backed up by research and science that shows that advanced nations culture of development starts much earlier than that rest and that it starts between the ages of 2-5yrs old.
The role parents play is crucial to ensuring their child gets off to a flying head-start before showing up to their first organized team practice. If a child is comfortable and competent with a Ball at their feet before team play they will experience a different level of enjoyment from day one. This can be achieved by Parents facilitating their child’s love for the Ball first, the game second.
Ball Mastery should be at the center of a child’s development. Parents need to make a commitment by putting time aside 15-20 minutes per day to play with their child in and around the home. The home serves as a safe protected environment away from ridicule where there is no pressure to succeed early on. The power of this interaction between Child and Parent is a Parent’s understanding of their child’s need for parental attention, approval and praise. This in turn creates an emotionally charged environment where deep learning and long-term memory takes place.
A Child’s Brain is 95% developed by the age of 5 or 6yrs old. The feet, the furthest distance away from the Brain rarely has an opportunity to develop Neural pathways linked to the Cerebellum. These exercises help to lay down Neural pathways and by repeating the movements this hardwires the Brain into memory where these technical skills can be used later on in an automated, unconscious way. Repetition is key to hard-wiring so the amount of play time you spend with your child early on is important. It’s also very important for the bonding between Child and Parent.
Engaging in Ball Mastery exercises early on also helps to develop cognitive, emotional, social and physical skills as well. It takes a certain degree of focus, concentration, discipline, and paying attention when doing these exercises. Paying attention is perhaps one of the most important skills a parent can help develop in their Child. Paying attention ensures that learning is taking place because the Child is firing and wiring the same nerve cells during these exercises which is strengthening the connection.
When you study the top players in the world there are common denominators such as most of the best started playing with a Ball in around the home with their parents between the ages of 2-5yrs old. The role that Parents played prepared them earlier than the rest. They all fell in love with the Ball early on which facilitated their love of the game second. It’s similar to a Parent reading to their Child each night from a young age which fosters a love for reading as well.
Any Parent, regardless whether they’ve played the game or not can help prepare their Child before entering into a Team. The Entry level is perhaps the most important phase of a Child’s development and we can help you to achieve that with, Soccer Starts at Home®!
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