May 17, 2022

How to Get Started in Soccer

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Mike Semenza

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Getting kids started in youth sports is a daunting task. For many parents, when their child shows an interest in soccer, finding the right organization or even knowing where to begin, is confusing. How do you know where to start?

Enrolling your child in soccer is easy but can be trickier as your child gets older. One wonderful thing about soccer is it is a sport that can be picked up at any time in a person’s life. There is no need to stress if your child did not start dribbling a ball at the age of three. Most do not!

It is important to remember that every state has its own soccer organization. Some larger states have multiple governing soccer bodies. This article will try and cover as many options as possible.

Follow along as we break down some of the ways you can get your child started in soccer.

Kids 8 and Under

Your kid is active, loves to run, and expressed an interest in soccer. For younger kids, under 5, simply getting out and kicking the ball and learning basic soccer concepts may be all that is needed.

These littles may not need to be enrolled on a soccer team but are fine taking development classes. Although this can all depend on the child. Some 3-year-olds do well on teams while others have fun picking flowers in the field.

A good soccer program has fun as the number one goal, then focuses on developing an understanding of the fundamentals.

Some great programs to look at in your area might be:

Equipment Needed:

Equipment needed for this age group will vary on the program you enroll your child. Always ask the coaches what your child will need to ensure you have all items to help make it an enjoyable experience. All costs are estimates.

Soccer Ball - age-specific size. $15-$30

Cleats - $20-$100 varies on size

Shin Guards - $15

Water Bottle - $10

Soccer socks - these may be provided if you are given uniforms during registration

Practice T-Shirt and Shorts

Kids 9-12

By this age, your child most likely plays soccer at recess or learned a little about the sport in PE class at school. If your kid expresses interest in learning more about soccer, you will want to look at your local youth soccer association. Again, each state and area can be different in what programs they offer.

A more structured club setting will provide your child with quality skills training and understanding of the game and sport. Some clubs will offer recreational teams where there is a larger focus on learning the game and having fun.

If your child is looking for something more focused, with more practice, and more competition, then see if your local clubs offer a junior academy program or junior “select” program. The difference between junior academies and select programs is typically based on age and appropriate concept levels for that age group.

Some states offer an AYSO program. If your area does not have a local AYSO, you may need to search for something in other youth soccer programs.

To help you find your local youth soccer association, start with US Youth Soccer. The information on this website can be a bit overwhelming. Source the information by your state. Then you can narrow your search down from there. In larger states, like Texas, there are two soccer governing bodies, South Texas Youth Soccer and North Texas Youth Soccer. Once you find your state, search for “Clubs Near You.”

This age range is also a good time to enroll the child into a developmental training program or summer camps. These are held at facilities outside of the clubs and can help your child work on their skill development without joining an actual team.

Equipment Needed:

Equipment needed for this age group will vary on the program you enroll your child. All costs are estimates.

Soccer Ball - age-specific size. $15-$30

Cleats - $30-$200 varies on size

Shin Guards - $15-$30

Water Bottle - $10-$30

Soccer socks - practice uniforms may come with socks

Kids in Middle School

What about kids who want to try out for the middle school soccer team but might not have played soccer before? Do not fear! Most likely your child learned basic soccer skills in PE and knows friends who play soccer.

Typically, there are tryouts for positions and the competition level can get higher depending on the coach.

Local area clubs may have recreational or a few select teams that your child can join to help them prepare for middle school soccer. Another great way to prep to join the team is by finding a small training group session that covers soccer fundamentals.

At this age, one of the best ways to learn how to play the game is by watching soccer on TV! Have your middle schooler watch a professional soccer game on the weekends. Tell them to select one player and watch how they move and play on the field.

Another option is to work with a private trainer. A private coach could be exactly what they need to help them grow in the sport and improve upon their touches, passes, and other skills.

It can be helpful to sit down with a parent of another soccer player to see what type of development and skills program exists that can help your child prepare for middle school soccer.

Equipment Needed:

Equipment needed for this age group will vary on the program you enroll your child. All costs are estimates.

Soccer Ball - age-specific size. $15-$30

Cleats - $50-$200 varies on size

Shin Guards - $15-$30

Water Bottle - $10-$40

Uniforms and Practice T-shirts - Cost varies depending on the program

Kids in High School

The path for kids in high school might be a bit trickier. Typically, high school-aged soccer players have years of experience under their belt. If your kid wants to try out for the high school team, make sure they understand what is needed of them by the high school team.

Most high schools offer three different levels of teams, the Freshman team, the Junior Varsity team, and the Varsity team. This allows players with various backgrounds and skill levels a place to play for their high school team.

Have your kid set up a meeting with one of the high school coaches and ask them to discuss what skills and concepts the coaches want from their players. From there, enroll your kid in a soccer development program. Work with trainers and private coaches.

If your area has a recreational league or even a select team, that your child can join at an older age, this can be advantageous for them. Having strong game knowledge can help your kid be smarter with the ball, even if their skills might be behind others.

Never discourage your child from trying out for the teams. Help them find a program that fits their skill level and encourage them to try their best! Above all else, make sure they are having fun!

Equipment Needed:

Equipment needed for this age group will vary on the program you enroll your child. All costs are estimates.

Soccer Ball - age-specific size. $20-$60

Cleats - $75-$250 varies on size

Shin Guards - $15-$30

Water Bottle - $10-$40

Uniforms and Practice T-shirts - Cost varies depending on the program

Learn More With Blayze!

Could your soccer player use one-on-one guidance on areas of improvement in their soccer skills? Maybe your soccer player wants to try out for a middle school or high school team and needs skills assistance?

At Blayze we give you personalized video analysis coaching sessions and individual training programs, plus mentorship from professional coaches.

Our Blayze+ program breaks down the barriers to finding elite-level training by making top-tier coaches available for ALL athletes. Custom-developed coaching sessions can help you improve your on-field skills, so you are performing at your very best in every game. For a truly unique and personalized feedback experience, click HERE to learn more about the Blayze+ program!

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Blayze Coach Mike Semenza

Mike Semenza

6+ years of professional coaching with LA Galaxy, EXOS and COPA STC

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