Kids Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world. The game of soccer is played in over 150 countries and the trend is increasing exponentially. So why is soccer so popular with the kids? The basic nature of the game assures that kids participating have fun.
Children all over the world play the game for different reasons. Within these different reasons the common answer would be FUN, FITNESS and ENJOYMENT. So how do we categorise these common themes into answers?
Plenty of surveys have been conducted over the years and different definitions of fun and enjoyment have been established. Fun and enjoyment is
- Participating in the game. Not sitting on the bench for long periods of time or waiting for a go at training.
- Having a supportive, positive coach that never loses his temper and never yells at his players.
- Having a coach that recognises effort and improvements and always praises his kids for trying their best.
- Having a coach that smiles alot.
- Having an enthusiastic coach that is friendly with everyone.
- Having parents that do not get involved in the sport. Parents encouraging their kids is a big positive. Parents yelling from the sidelines is a big negative.
- Improving my skill level and personal performance.
- Trying out different positions within the team.
- Being recognised by team mates as being an important member of the team.
- Making new friends and belonging to a team environment.
- and finally competing and trying to win games.
The above statements are the result of the question, “what is fun and enjoyment?” The above statements are not defined by geographic location or by age. The answers are applicable for most children of all ages. The only thing that might differ is the order of these answers.
Looking at the above list, the answers are not surprising. However, as children grow older, their definition of fun and enjoyment also changes. To help investigate this a little deeper, lets take a 6-7 year old kid playing soccer. His definition of fun and enjoyment is
- running around all day chasing the ball. Children at this level don’t care about skills, development or winning. The score has no significance for these kids unless the parents or coach make it significant. Most kids in this age group struggle to kick the ball in the right direction and have no interest in team focus or team spirit.
- Children in this age group need a positive coach and encouraging parents.
As the kids grow older, lets say 8-9 years old, the kids definition of fun and enjoyment also includes
- skills and development.
- Also friendships start to form and peer recognition becomes an important aspect of the team dynamics.
- Although winning is important within this age group, its not the sole motivator.
Now lets talk about the 10-12 year olds. Before I continue, this age group still requires a supportive, positive coach and encouraging parents like the 6-9 year olds.
- This age group has players with the burning desire to improve on their game and their skill levels.
- These children will be open to instruction and constructive criticism.
- They start to develop team spirit and peer recognition becomes very important.
- Fun starts to include winning to some degree.
To summarise all this, playing the game is the most important aspect here. Yes the definition might change a little as they get older, but in order to have fun playing soccer, You must be participating in the game of Soccer.