Do you have questions about kids’ soccer? You have come to the right place! This post addresses common soccer questions and answers to parents who are new to soccer.
It is understandable for parents who are not familiar with soccer to ask these questions.
My answers are aimed at answering some good soccer questions, giving you guidance for you to make up your mind, and clearing up some misunderstandings.
To make it easier for you, I listed the questions I am going to answer below :
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1. What Is Kids Soccer?
As the name suggests, kids’ soccer is a version of soccer purposely designed for children.
In the US, rules are administered by the US Youth Soccer and they are modified with more emphasis on fun, safety, and learning for both parents and their kids.
In 2016, it is estimated that 3 million kids play soccer in the US, slowly surpassing softball.
A lot of parents are now participating in soccer with their children and networking with other parents on the sidelines.
Worried about soccer rules?
Don’t worry you are not alone, most parents started learning about the rules on the sideline of the soccer field.
2. What Is The Best Age To Start Playing Soccer?
Give your toddler a plush toy soccer ball and she will start her first training.
Seriously, soccer is all about getting a feel of the ball and discovering that it can roll.
She will slowly learn how to hold the ball in both hands and maybe started throwing it around the house.
As she grows older she can learn to kick and catch the ball with your help.
Between the ages of 1 and 3, you may start to introduce more soccer-like training at home.
At this age your kid may already develop some balancing, can run, and jump.
The key is to let her have fun and run around with the ball and dribble.
Make sure to use light balls as they will not injure your child and do not be tempted to buy those size 3 balls yet.
Your kid needs to develop strong muscles, especially in her lower body in order to kick a standard-size ball.
By 8 – 10, they should be ready to play with other kids and follow the instructions.
But never force her to join unless she is ready for the training because she will be participating with different kids and coaches.
I have laid out a basic soccer drill list here where you can coach your child in the privacy of your own backyard.
In the early stages of soccer, the mums and dads are the coaches.
3. Is Soccer A Dangerous Sport?
OK, I love playing soccer and I am tempted to downplay the fact that injuries do happen but really serious injuries do not happen every day on the field.
I need to say it as it is, as the guy who played soccer since the early 1980s with bare feet and usually under the blazing equatorial sun.
It was hot and humid and we played unsupervised throughout the afternoon, between breaks we gathered around the water tap to rehydrate ourselves.
The injuries I sustained those days were small cuts under my feet, toes, and legs, grazed knees, swollen shin, and a few fingernails scratched on my body.
These injuries can be avoided if I wear proper soccer cleats, socks, and shin guards.
Two major injuries I sustained later in my adult life are when I sprained my ankle when I was 20 and tore my hamstring when I was 40.
Those were the worst injuries I can remember and could have been avoided if I warmed up properly.
Sprained knees, torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and broken bones are serious but not common.
A concussion is a potentially serious injury to the brain and I suffered a concussion after falling off a tree and was hospitalized for 3 days.
It was a frightening experience because I couldn’t recognize my own family.
I also broke my left wrist at high school as well but not related to soccer at all.
Concussions in soccer normally occurred when two players collide and hit their heads together, hit their heads on the goalpost, or receive an elbow to the head.
Studies in the US show concussion is higher in soccer compared to football.
Also, girls are more prone to concussions and ACL injuries.
Fortunately, these injuries can be minimized if parents, players, and game organizers apply soccer safety rules.
For example, parents must encourage their kid’s fair play, players must wear protective gear such as head guards, and referees must have zero tolerance for reckless playing.
US Youth Soccer has set out rules and regulations regarding the safety of players.
These rules and regulations must be adhered to by all soccer associations and clubs in the US.
As a parent you should be concerned but like I said if safety rules are applied it can be minimized.
You can read my post about injury prevention here for a better understanding.
Related: 10 Soccer Protective Gear For Kids – Parents Guide
4. Can Girls Play Soccer?
Yes, yes, and yes. The girls who played soccer some 20 years ago are now in the US Women’s National Team, the world’s reigning women’s champion.
The USWNT won 4 World Cup titles and 3 Olympic Gold Medals as compared to the men’s soccer team.
As I am writing this post in June 2019, the USWNT has just beaten France 2-1.
Just watch the current Women’s Soccer World Cup and you will agree that girls are exciting to watch.
The myth that only boys can play soccer is simply not true. All the stuff about girls being not physically and mentally strong is not true either.
Several studies show that girls are actually stronger than boys.
For example, a study shows that girls handled stress better than boys and under extreme circumstances, girls have a higher chance of survival.
That is just how nature made them be.
Soccer is a game that requires a combination of skills, fitness, and intelligence which all girls are capable of.
I am very sure girls who are passionate about soccer can achieve their dreams just like boys.
Soccer helps young girls develop skills that will teach them to become better adults and parents.
Besides improved mental and physical health, I am talking about teamwork, leadership, confidence, and sportsmanship.
Therefore, do not kill your daughter’s dream of soccer because she will live to regret it.
Please read my post about the benefits of playing soccer here.
You can also check Alex Morgan, the US female soccer player here.
5. Can Soccer Help In School?
A study has shown that kids who play soccer performed well at school by 30%.
In fact, any kid who played sports has physical and mental fitness that enabled them to do well in their school exams.
Because exercise binds brain cells that improve memory, attention span, better focus, and stress relief.
Children who played soccer also learn self-discipline and time management.
In addition, kids who played soccer have higher school attendance than those who do not play any sports.
Therefore, soccer is not a waste of time for parents and kids.
Exercise has a lot of benefits other than good school grades.
6. How Long Should You Practice Soccer A Day?
Over-training comes to mind, it can produce negative results in a kid’s health and soccer development.
Generally, kids can practice four to five days a week but always keep in mind to avoid over-training.
Remember it’s all about fun for the kids, if you start pushing, her reaction will be different.
Kids under eight can train for a maximum of 50 minutes with 10-minute breaks in between or no more than 3 days a week including matches.
Anything longer than that the kids will lose interest and the likelihood of burnout.
For kids under 12, the maximum duration of practice should be around 65 – 90 minutes and no more than 4 days a week.
That is including warm-ups and training itself.
Over-training can be a result of parents and coaching pushing the kids too hard in training which will lead to mental and physical stress.
Especially when all they cared about is winning trophies.
Remember, it’s not time to push your kid to train harder for the next game. You should concentrate on smaller goals and allow her to thrive.
And any joint pain lasting more than a week should be checked by a doctor.
Please read my post on pregame and post-game diet here.
They help reduce injury and boost recovery after soccer training.
7. Do Soccer Players Train every day?
Training every day may lead to over-training the kid and will cause health issues.
However, kids at 12 can do their personal training apart from the main training.
These personal training are for refining ball skills and techniques and may take up to 30 minutes every day.
Generally, personal training should not be as intense as team training.
It’s not for all kids but for those who are serious about their soccer careers or those whose skills need to catch up with the rest of the team.
One critical training is the 1000 soccer touches your kid should be doing at home.
Personal training can be done in your backyard.
In my youth, my personal training regime includes jogging every morning for 1 hour before my whole family woke up for breakfast.
This has improved my level of fitness, strength, and performance in games and I don’t run out of breath too easily.
Related: 5 Reasons One-On-One Soccer Training Is Effective
8. Can Parents Enjoy Soccer?
Most definitely, I played soccer when I was young and my dad was a soccer referee I must confess when your dad is a ref you are not a popular guy.
My dad would always take me to the soccer games on weekends but I just have to close my ears from hearing the spectators shouting at the ref, poor me.
Parents who are involved with their kid’s soccer training are bound to enjoy soccer in a variety of ways.
Maybe you will be a referee someday.
Actually, you have to figure out why are you signing up your kid for soccer.
If you just trying to get rid of him so you can have some “me time” then it is going to be worst for you.
Kids soccer is a community, it requires a lot of help from parents and it will be a perfect opportunity to get involved if you are passionate about volunteerism.
You might discover a new hobby to escape the work-related stress that we carry the whole week. Don’t be surprised that you are feeling a bit fitter than 4 months ago.
All the drills you involved with your kid in the backyard have benefited you as well. If you cared about your kid then soccer will definitely be the glue that further bonds you together.
You got to spend more time with him in the backyard, the road trip to and from the training, and cheering him on the field.
Nothing beats the moments you spend with your kid seriously discussing soccer like 2 buddies.
A break from the repetitive talk about too much time in front of the TV.
Talking about sportsmanship might be a good topic to start with. Please read my post about sportsmanship here.
It will also be a good time to finally convince him to eat the vegetables he despised. Maybe the family diet will improve as well.
So yes, it will be fun for parents, you will learn something new and great bonding times will come.
Remember you are investing in your child.
9. Can Soccer Help In Improving Parent-Child Relationship?
Yes, we have just discussed this above. The more time you spend with your kids the better.
I have 5 kids on my own, and although it’s a challenge I love every moment of it.
You must understand that they are actually little people themselves.
They have their worries and opinions, they do have stress as well.
They have their own issues in their lives in their own little world.
If you see them as dumb human beings who know nothing about life, then I call it child abuse.
Pure and simple.
You will be amazed to hear what they have to say.
They are not stupid and if you listen and understand their issues, it will open a floodgate of trust and love.
Mums and dads will be the person they confide in, so in the long run, your lives will be so much easier.
10. What Are The Benefits Of Playing Soccer?
Playing soccer brings many benefits and some have already been discussed above. The following are some that I did not mention.
Soccer helps reduce the risk of obesity and other nasty diseases because of the exercises and training involved.
Your child will spend less watching too much TV or playing video games.
Your child will develop cardiovascular fitness resulting in a strong heart and lungs.
It also makes the kid develop strong bones, ligaments, and muscles.
Your kid’s social skills will improve as he interacts with other kids and adults which can lead to trust, confidence, and teamwork.
Leadership traits might start to appear in your kid to be the team captain.
General improvement of your child’s development such as agility, balance, and speed when they participate in soccer drills and exercises.
Soccer promotes healthy eating and discourages junk food that will cause tooth decay and obesity.
Your kid will eat more fruits, vegetables, and a lot of healthy foods that you cook at home.
So there you go guys, soccer, or any other sport is not that scary.
Yes, kids get injured physically and as parents, we take action when things don’t look right.
Talk to other parents, the coach, and the school about your safety concerns.
To be honest, guys, if you think soccer is just not worth the risk, get your child another sport.
Or a new hobby like camping or fishing. Exercise is good for the whole family.
Like I always said, common sense is your best friend.
Related: What Are The Benefits Of Playing Soccer?
11. Can Girls Play Soccer With Boys?
Yes, girls can play soccer with boys when they are kids. At this stage, sex and age do not matter, and having fun is the main goal.
The kid’s physiology and ability change when they become adolescents and that’s where it becomes a grey area as some soccer clubs, coaches, and parents have different views about it.
The girls played a slower, artistic style of soccer as they tend to dribble more and take their time making the right decisions before they execute, they also rarely use high balls during a game.
On the other hand, boys play with speed, strength, and minimal touches.
According to sportswomen who played mixed sports at a young age, there are benefits from both sexes such as mutual respect and improved social skills.
On the technical side, girls who played soccer with boys will reap the following benefit:
- They will improve their speed of play as they constantly need to catch up with the boys
- They will develop more awareness of their surroundings and make split-second decisions before the opponents get the ball from them
- They develop physical and mental toughness and resilience because of the constant pressure from the boys.
It is also known that not all boys are physically strong and they can learn a lot from the girls as well.
12. What Kind Of Gear Does My Kid Need To Wear To Play Soccer?
The beauty of soccer is that it doesn’t require a lot of gear in order to play.
Soccer involves a lot of kicking so it’s a good idea that your kid wears sneakers to protect your kid’s feet from bruises.
In regards to clothing, it is best to wear something that allows free movement and is comfortable.
If your kid is playing at school then you might want to buy some proper gear.
The school might have already given you a list of the required items.
i. Soccer Cleats/Shoes
Soccer cleats protect the feet from injuries, and help with kicking while providing traction on the ground so your kid does not slip every time she runs.
At this stage look for a shoe that has a rubber-molded sole and studs – no metal studs.
The inner sole should be thick enough but not too much to cushion the impact when your kid’s feet hit the ground.
The upper or the outside covering should be made of durable synthetic leather.
That is because it protects the feet when they are stepped on and the impact of kicking the ball.
Importantly, it should be breathable so that sweat is not kept in the cleats which can make it heavy. A good soccer shoe will cost around $25.
Cheaper soccer cleats will compromise your kid’s safety – that’s not good.
ii. Shin Guards
Shin guards protect the shin – the area between the knees and the ankles. The shin is exposed to injuries from tackles and careless kicks from other kids.
A good shin guard also has pads around the ankles but the problem is it restricts movements and tends to absorb moisture and become heavy.
Other options are the socks type and the slip-in shin guards. A good shin is around $20.
Proper soccer socks cover the shin and stop at the knees and should not be too tight for the legs.
The sock offers extra comfort to the feet when wearing the soccer cleat and prevents injuries to the feet such as blisters.
They also hold the shin guards in place but should not be too tight to the legs.
Lastly, they should be breathable and lightweight.
iv. Shirt And Shorts
The shirt and shorts should be lightweight and breathable.
Preferably they should be made of nylon or similar materials.
A good kit will cost you around $20.
v. Goalkeeper Gloves
If your kid is a goalkeeper then gloves are required as well.
Good gloves are made of latex foam on the palm and the backhand with finger savers.
Thicker foams provide protection to the palms but the goalkeeper tends to lose the “feel” of the ball.
The finger savers protect the fingers from hyperextending.
Finally, the closure on the wrist should be secured with wrap-around velcro.
A $25 glove should be good.
You can check out my guide on 6 Important Goalie Gear For Soccer You Must Not Ignore
Related: 10 Soccer Protective Gear For Kids – Parents Guide
13. How Many Kids Should Play In A Soccer Game Per Team?
There is no universal rule on how many kids are allowed to play in a soccer game per team.
However, local soccer authorities do have rules that junior soccer clubs must abide by.
In this case, as the kids get older the number of players also increased.
It is important to note that at this stage the game should be fun and all kids must be given an equal opportunity to play.
Any kid should not be sitting on the bench too long or given only a few minutes to play.
So, here is the general guideline:
- Kids under 6 years old – 3 players with no goalkeeper
- Kids under 8 years old – 4 players with no goalkeeper
- Kids under 10 years old – 6 players including a goalkeeper
- Kids under 12 years old – 8 players including a goalkeeper
A maximum of 3 players will be sitting on the bench for substitution.
14. What Is A Soccer Ball?
The soccer ball, also commonly known as football, football ball, or association ball, is the ball used in playing soccer. It is spherical in shape and comes in various sizes, weights, and materials.
All these specifications are governed by the International Football Association Board, FIFA, and subordinate governing bodies for approval to use in competitions.
The soccer ball has come a long way from being a leather bag filled with cork shavings to using an animal bladder filled with air inside the outer covering.
In 1838 Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber, this material changed the way soccer balls are made and it has been that way ever since. Vulcanized rubber is strong and elastic thus making the soccer ball bouncy and easier to kick.
During that time the vulcanized bladder is inserted into a leather covering that is hand-stitched and has lacing for closure.
Since then the soccer ball has evolved with technology to what is today.
The modern-day soccer ball is still made of the butyl rubber bladder, then is covered with a layer of cotton or polyester, and the final outer is made of leather or synthetic leather.
15. What Is Indoor Soccer?
Not to be confused with Futsal, another version of indoor soccer.
Indoor soccer, also known as turf soccer is a popular version of outdoor soccer that is played on an indoor walled court.
According to Statista, the number of indoor soccer players aged 6 years and above in the US reached 5.23 million in 2018.
The game is played on synthetic turf as opposed to Futsal which is played on a wooden or ceramic surface.
This indoor soccer is developed by the US and Canada but is not sanctioned by FIFA
The rules are generally similar to outdoor soccer but there are additional or modified rules to suit the fast-paced nature of the game.
Here are some main points in kids’ indoor soccer:
- 6 players including the goalie
- Unlimited substitution
- The court is oval-shaped
- Playing off the wall allowed
- No offside rule applied
- Played on turf, not wooden or ceramic floor
- Players wear turf soccer cleats
- Played with a normal soccer ball
16. What Is Futsal?
Futsal is a FIFA-sanctioned indoor version of soccer and is played on hard surfaces, normally wooden or ceramic floors.
It is played throughout the world so it is very popular worldwide, in fact, there is a Futsal World Cup.
Kids also enjoyed playing futsal because it is indoors away from the rain and blistering sun.
Players also wear basic soccer gear except that the shoes are made of rubber soles.
The rules are modified to suit the fast-paced nature of the game.
Here are some main points in Futsal:
- 5 players including the goalie
- Unlimited substitution
- No wall around the court
- The court is rectangle-shaped
- No offside rule applied
- Played on hard wooden or ceramic floor
- Players wear rubber sole shoes
- Played with a low-bounce ball
17. How Many Sports Should A Kid Play?
Recent studies show that playing multiple sports is more beneficial for kids than focusing on a single sport.
The benefits include fewer overuse injuries and burnouts from playing one sport alone.
However, there are some exceptions that a kid will play a single sport like soccer.
You can go to How Many Sports Should A Kid Play – Sports Specialization Vs Multi-sport to read more about this topic.
Do you still have any questions? Please leave it in the comments below.
Kids photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com
By Jamie Smed from Cincinnati, Ohio – IMG_0030.JPG, CC BY 2.0, Link
By Dravecky – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0