Street Soccer Development For Kids – 7 Ways to Double Skills on the Big Fields

So when I was a wee little guy I was hard-core into sports.  I still am.  And I remember playing as often as I could wherever I could.  However, the second I hit a certain age (7 years) it all became about playing for a team.

An organization.  A structure…

And the second that started getting more intense, the less we played from our own volition when outside of that club structure.

Bonus: Download a free cheat-sheet of some of the best development tricks in the world – including a bunch not shown here in this post.

I was lucky enough (at least I consider it lucky) that right about the age that club soccer was starting to overtake everything else, my family moved to Chile, (bizarre I know).  The second we arrived in Chile, I was introduced to a true “play anywhere you can” soccer culture.

And because of this, I got to witness first-hand the incredible power that street soccer can have.

There is no denying the development aspects of something so “simple” as street soccer.  I mean, all one has to do is look up the many pro’s that have sharpened their skills on the streets of their local neighbourhoods.  From Maradona to Ronaldo to Ronaldinho to Zidane to Cristiano Ronaldo to Messi it goes on and on…

Yet somehow we have let our soccer culture become all about structure and clubs with people telling us what to do the whole time.

Kids are dropped off (or nowadays 24/7 chaperoned), and then coaches train them in an official way.  Kids have their water bottles, they get to play on nice fields, they are told what to do the entire time, and they are told the rules of how to do everything.  It’s nice and proper.  Run like a well-oiled machine.

Parents then take their kids home, where they maybe text their buddies, play a game on the ipad, play some x-box, watch some tv yada yada yada… That is until their parents tell them it’s time to eat and then do homework.

And the pattern goes on and on.

And then our only question becomes about what is wrong with our coaching.

Yeah, there’s some problems with specific coaching issues.  But the answer is bigger and more complex than that.   It’s also about our culture and how we develop kids outside of the clubs as well.  And also what we’ve let disappear from our culture if it was even ever there in the first place anyways.

The point is this: there’s a lot to be learned from the values that come from street soccer development.  And it applies to more than just “how one trains or plays.”

Here are 7 ways to apply some really coolio methods from Street Soccer that will seriously help your kid(s) soccer development:

1.  Play Anywhere You Can

I talked about this a bit already.  But take it to heart.  If you look at kids right now, most are only playing about %5-%10 outside of a formal club.  And that’s probably being an optimistic Paul at that.  You need to balance out that equation.

Club training is great and it’s needed.  However, there’s a lot that no matter what a club does cannot be replicated.  And simply letting kids play on their own outside of the formal walls of a club is going to provide a lot of value.

Kids will develop more passion for the game, learn how to think for themselves, be more competitive, develop way more creativity, and will get tons more touches…

Have I not said enough?

Good, let’s continue

2. Creativity – Apply Creativity When Possible

Continuing with the awesome sauce creativity argument.  It’s unreal how to me how coaches discourage creativity.  And the saddest part?  They deny it too…  Every coach will deny this but then their actions say otherwise.

This solution is simple.  Encourage risks, moves, tricks, and flair. Applaud it.  In fact, make a big deal of it when a kid finally has the guts to try something.

Cause guess what?  Discourage a kid once when they finally mustered up their courage and yet made a mistake, and you may forever instill a fear of failure in their minds…

Never underestimate the power and influence a coach has.

I mean there’s a reason the bible says that teaches will be judged harsher…

3.different surfaces

Here’s a fun and quirky one since people don’t think of it often.

When you start driving through different cultures and countries you’ll invariably see different people playing soccer in different areas.  You’ll see random games on dirt, cement, turf, grass, fields, rocks, clay etc…

Yet take a drive through good ol’ North America and all you see is what?

Yep, people playing on grass… It’s like people think grass is the only place you can play soccer.

But soccer is the beautiful game because you can play anywhere anytime!  Can you play basketball anywhere?  Can you play golf anywhere?  Can you play baseball anywhere?  Can you play tennis anywhere?

No!

And the reason is cause soccer is so dern simple you can throw down some t-shirts and bam! You got a game sir.

And playing on different surfaces develops awesome ball control from having to learn how to deal with all the obstacles and difficulties that different surfaces invariably come with.

Play on different surfaces. Period.

4.  Make Your Own Rules

I once was having kids play mini 1v1 games in the smallest space almost possible. And I had a king’s court set up.  So if you won you moved on down the ladder of fields to the best court.

Games were only 2 minutes.  And of course the nets were tiny things with just cones as posts.

Of course, kids started arguing about goals, and what counted etc etc… And what did the kids do immediately?  They came to me, the coach to figure it out for them.

“Was that a goal?” “Did that count?” “Was that too high?” “What do we do if we tie?”

And what do most coaches do in this scenario?  They give the answers…

You know what?

Sometimes you gotta let them figure it out.  Let them make the rules.  Let them figure out who moves on. Make all the rules for them and they are self-sufficient.

I think one of the best ways in the entire world to develop competitiveness is by letting kids make their own rules and figuring it out themselves.

5. Small Spaces

This is a fatal mathematical mistake.  It’s quite simple.  And if you’ve read what I’ve wrote so far you’ll see that the stuff above will often naturally lead to small spaces.   And this is great!

Small spaces maximize touches, “soccer scenarios,” chances to score, chances to defend, 1v1’s and the list goes on and on and on.

Don’t always make massive fields.

Play on smaller fields.  The results will come I promise.  And if you follow the lessons above you’ll naturally be playing more often on smaller fields.  Like on dirt, on in the middle of a park that has people walking through, or in a field with cows, or in a field that has indented walk ways going through it…

Play on smaller fields.

6.  Play King’s Court

I touched on this above as well.   But you wouldn’t have caught this point.  And it’s this:

In North America it’s always about being fair, and letting everyone have a chance. And making sure that kids pass the ball the second they get it.

But this makes it really hard to develop competitive players.  Not to say you should always be cut-throat or anything but: be too nice and too “democratic” and you won’t develop players with an intense fire in them that want to win that ball no matter what it takes.

Arsene Wenger said it best: The most competitive players come from playing Street Soccer.

And that’s why I say sometimes you gotta do King’s court and let them duke it out.  If you’re weaker and not surviving?  Figure it out.  Let them go all “survival of the fittest” for a bit.  And here’s the coolest part.  You can teach the weaker teams some methods to survive and start playing better.  Don’t just adjust teams, rather help them fix it.

Nough said.

7.  Encourage Flair

I love me some of this topic.  Can’t get enough of it.

Never let go of ze flair.  In street soccer on of the best parts of it is the flair.  The ability to shine.  Encourage it, apply it.

Do this:

Do a session where you teach some moves, fancy combinations, megs, turns etc… And then do a bunch of drills and sessions where players have to apply that stuff.

People try to take flair out of the game yet fail to see that the world’s best players grew up applying that stuff.  Why do you think these players can whip up some awesome individual flair on the ball at will?

Cause they grew up applying it and having the guts to try new fancy stuff.  Often…

Conclusion:

These 7 methods are meant for you to apply “Street Style Soccer” development methods to your regular soccer.  It’s meant to learn from the concept of Street Soccer so you’re not losing out on the insanely effective and awesome benefits of Street Soccer.  Steal these methods and use them to sky-rocket your kid’s soccer development.

You may not necessarily be able to play street soccer as often as you would like, but you can at least apply as many of the advantages from it as possible.

You’ll see the results.  Street Soccer development methodologies have proven their weight in gold many a times…

Have you used any of these methods before? 

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