According to the United States Census Bureau, 57 percent of kids aged 6 to 17 participate in at least one extracurricular activity. Add an average seven hours a day spent in the American classroom (according to the National Center for Education Statistics) as well as two hours of school homework, league games and practices, and it makes sense that the last thing kids may want to do when they get home is practice soccer drills. But as the old adage goes, “practice makes perfect.”
And while most experts agree that kids should practice drills as much as they are willing to, how much do they really need to do at home and what should they focus on?
The answer is, it depends. The general rule of thumb for a U12 player is 20 to 30 minutes a day, three to five days per week. But it really depends on your player(s), skill level, endurance and many other factors, so it’s going to require a judgment call on your part. And always avoid overtraining to reduce the risk of injury.
Fast footwork should be the main goal, increasing the player’s comfort and ease with the ball through as many touches and repetitions as possible in each session. Drills also help develop coordination, and adding ladder or quick-feet exercises will take it one step further.
Here are some supplemental soccer drills that players can do at home:
As players master different touch drills, they can add more advanced ones to their routine, one at a time.
At the end of the day, youth soccer is all about having fun. As parents and coaches, it’s our job to make sure we stay consistent and help our players find the balance between having a good time, personal growth, and development of a solid work ethic.