Soccer is a hugely popular sport — there are over four billion followers of this sport, which is known as “football” in most of the world.
If you have a budding Ronaldo or David Beckham in your family, you already know that your child gets a good workout. But there are many other benefits of playing soccer!
Kids Who Kick: 5 Benefits of Playing Soccer
The so-called “soccer mom” first got that nickname way back in the 1990s. If you’re considering joining their leagues (if you’ll pardon the pun), you may be wondering if all the driving and practice hours are worth it. Here are five benefits to remember when it feels like you live in that minivan.
1. Soccer Is Excellent Exercise
One of the most obvious benefits of soccer for kids? It is great exercise. Soccer drills, practice, and games give your child an awesome cardiovascular workout. They also help improve flexibility and strength. Leaping up to kick the ball, diving to stop the opponent from scoring, and dashing down the field all make for a physically fit son or daughter.
Soccer and other sports are also a good way to reduce your children’s dependence on tech devices and screen time. One out of every three Internet users is a child under the age of 18 — so any activity that gets them out into the fresh air and moving around is a worthwhile one.
2. Soccer Improves Hand-Eye Coordination
OK, maybe “hand-eye” coordination is a bit misleading. Since only goalies can use their hands in this sport, “knee-eye,” “head-eye,” and “foot-eye” coordination are more apt ways to describe this benefit!
In addition, playing soccer requires a lot of concentration, attention to detail, and focus. Developing these skills will help your child on the field, of course, but also in many other aspects of her life.
3. Soccer Teaches Kids Teamwork and Perseverance
Ever heard the saying “teamwork makes the dream work”? Well, you’re about to. Teamwork can be one of the most difficult things for a kid to learn if they don’t participate in a team sport.
So what specific benefits of playing soccer does teamwork help with? Working together and coordinating to achieve a particular objective. Building trust with each other, and knowing that they can rely on a teammate to do their part so that the team as a whole can succeed.
4. Soccer Teaches Social Skills — and More
Another vital aspect of playing a team sport is encouraging one another even when the going gets tough. Sometimes it can be difficult for more experienced, or more naturally athletic, players to be on a team with kids who are just starting their soccer career. From this experience, they can learn patience, kindness, and the importance of letting everyone have a turn to shine.
Self-esteem is another of the benefits of playing soccer, particularly for those beginner players. As they improve their skills and receive encouragement from teammates and coaches, they begin to see what a difference perseverance and practice can make.
These are valuable lessons, to be sure, but soccer also provides parents the opportunities to help kids learn about different cultures and countries.
Once your child starts playing soccer, chances are good they will want to watch it as much as possible, too. Since this is a sport with global appeal, your young athlete can learn geography, history, and many other interesting tidbits through the lens of sport.
Encourage this educational aspect by diving deep into the culture of your child’s favorite soccer players. When it’s your turn to bring the team snack, choose something from that cuisine!
5. Soccer Is Fun!
Last but certainly not least, your child will have a blast playing soccer. Physical activity is a fantastic way to work off that extra energy that kids always seem to have. It can also help them channel stress, anger, and other negative emotions that might otherwise not have an outlet.
As a result of playing soccer, your child will make new friends, learn how to get along with kids she might not like, and become more confident and self-assured through gameplay.
She may even enjoy it so much she’ll ask to attend a soccer camp!
What happens when a child tries soccer, but after a few practices, decides that she doesn’t like it? This is an issue that every child — and their parents — will have to wrestle with at some point, whether it is in regards to soccer or another sport, learning an instrument, or any type of extracurricular activity.
Encouraging a child to continue with a sport that she doesn’t excel at can be a tremendous character building opportunity. Over time, she will see her hard work pay off, even if she never becomes truly great at playing soccer. That’s a valuable lesson to learn at a young age.
Of course, if your child seems genuinely upset or stressed out, it might be wise to try something else. Perhaps she is better suited to an individual sport like swimming, or even one of the martial arts, such as karate.
As you can see, the benefits of soccer extend to all areas of life. You will set your child up with a great foundation when you encourage her interest in this fun, popular sport.
Soccer is about so much more than just kicking, passing, and scoring — or than running wind sprints and footwork drills. Rather, it’s a wonderful way to instill values like perseverance, teamwork, empathy, tolerance, and respect.