How do I help my kid get better at soccer?

IMG_0592I have been coaching soccer for over a decade.  During that time, I have also been raising 5 kids.  All of them play soccer, some at very high levels.  I think one question I get a lot from parents of the kids I coach is “how do I help my kid get better?”  So, here are some helps for parents who would like to see their child improve.

  1.  Two training sessions/week will not make your child an elite soccer player.  You need to understand this.
  2. Kids like what their parents like.  So, the first thing I do when I am asked this question is I ask the parent:  “how much soccer do you watch on TV?”  Almost without exception, it is little to none.  This is a problem.  So, you need to improve your passion for the game.  Watch it.  I mean all of it – not just the goals.  Learn why defense is so important.  Learn how keepers manage a game.  Learn how teams play through the back and middle.  Listen to an English game, when they applaud the defense for winning the ball and playing simply through the middle, and ask “why are they clapping now – there was no goal?”  If you spend your time watching baseball or american football, talking about baseball and american football, that is what your child will like (with rare exception).  So keep that in mind.  It starts with you.
  3. Talk to your child about soccer (professional), not about their game.  This will increase their passion for the sport.  We discuss league standings (Premier League), tactics coaches used, formations, etc., at the dinner table.  If you have a daughter, follow the national team — they are the top of the world.  Go to a match when you can.
  4. Take your child to a professional game or local college game.  For the players to see, up close, what top soccer looks like is inspiring. In some ways, I would recommend your local college team first as your player will have more access to the players and get closer to the game.  Your player’s team may even get to be collect balls on the sidelines.
  5. Play Fifa with them.  I know this is a big ask for many parents – but, if you want your child to understand and love the game more, (a) let them play Fifa (PS4 or Xbox) and, (b) better yet, play with them.
  6. Knock the ball around with them in the backyard.  No, don’t lecture them or try to make it “a session.”  Just go out and play.  Pass and receive – do a aim challenge (if you don’t have a goal, use a fence post), design a set piece with phantom defenders.  If you have 4 people, make a game.  We play 2v2, 3v3, with weird rules (the little kids’ goals count x3, only score with _______, volleys only, etc.).

All of these ideas are things you can do and you are spending time with your child.  One thing I have learned raising 5 kids, they like what you like if you make it fun.  If you are too serious about it, it won’t come off.

7 thoughts on “How do I help my kid get better at soccer?”

  1. Nice reading,I always enjoy to read about stimulate kids to play soccer (my dad call it football ,jeje)another nice way to encourage kids to play it, is to have a nice foosball table at home.It iss a kidf of mix between sport and game.They love it.Thank you for the great site

  2. Terrific article Clint. Like you I’ve been coaching and navigating my kids through club soccer. It’s tough to watch some very promising young players lose their love for the sport because their parents take all the fun out of it. I’m passionate about the sport and have started a blog for parents and players of club soccer too. My site is: It’s relatively new, but I’m cranking out articles that I hope can make a difference. First off, would you mind if I linked this article onto my site? I think my readers would enjoy it. Also, if you like my content I’d greatly appreciate if you would share any articles or just a link to my website. Hopefully if enough of us keep working on this, we can get youth soccer to focus on fun again. Take care- Charlie

  3. Good stuff! I started coaching my son’s soccer team a year ago. I’ve learned so much about the game and have much more to go. It has really lit a passion for the game in me. 100% agree my passion for the game should come first.

  4. I like how you highlight simply spending time with your kid doing something soccer related. In terms of watching soccer we’ve had a lot of fun playing fantasy soccer in the premier league this year.

    My son and I have been following the EPL together for a few seasons but this is the first year that we each entered a team in their fantasy league and it’s really been a lot of fun. We didn’t get to know all the rules of the league because we’re not interested in “winning” the league, you could spend a lot of time figuring those out.

    We basically picked our team at the outset and week to week just tried to make sure we had no injured players in the lineup. It definitely adds to the dynamic of watching the games together, suddenly the score of two teams in the relegation zone matters to you b/c you have their striker.

    One thing we figured out as the season went on was that whoever you choose as your captain actually gets double the amount of points they earn. So I had to give him a hard time last weekend when he picked Sergio Aguero as his captain and then he didn’t even get into the game.

    Like you said in your post, it makes learning about the game fun. It helps bring the professional game to life and offers some great teaching moments when you can pause and rewind to show how their player checking their shoulder, moving off the ball, or some other detail of the game helped them earn more points.

Love to read your thoughts...