Just as a child's interest in a sport can grow and develop over time, so, too, do the programs that cater to them. United Indoor Soccer's programs for ages 2-4 are generally contact-free and don't require any shin guards or additional equipment, while programs for older students focus on the cultivation of skills to be used in both recreational and competitive play.
Not all children are ready to kick around a soccer ball at the tender age of 2, and quite often their parents aren't ready to let them. Plenty of youngsters pick up the game much later, spurred on by a friend's advice, a soccer star's appearance on TV, or the simple pull of a new game. While getting started at a later age can be intimidating for some children, many programs separate children by level rather than age, ensuring that groups are beneficial for everyone involved. So no matter how far behind a new player might feel, she can be placed in a group that will cultivate her skills and confidence at a level that suits her at that moment. Pacing children at a speed they are comfortable with is paramount to their success and sustained interest in the sport.
Keep it Fun
The benefits of youth soccer are myriad, injecting children with confidence, increasing their coordination, building strong friendships, and keeping their bodies healthy. But, as with any child activity, parents should make sure not to place added pressure on their children. Jordan Snider, director of the Future Stars Summer Camps held at Purchase College in Westchester County, believes, "It is important that parents are supportive and positive with their children. They should model good sportsmanship and keep it fun. Regardless of the outcome of the game, parents should greet their children the same way after a game. Additionally, let the coaches do the coaching. The child should also be encouraged to communicate directly with the coach, which will help foster a strong player/coach relationship. Parents have an important role in every aspect of their children's lives, but should remember that there are boundaries that should be respected."
As with any sport, soccer should be a fun activity. Children should be able to enjoy a game of football on the pitch (okay, soccer on the field), and if they're not having fun, it is probably time to try something else. Remember, there's always a spot out in right field.