Most kids playing organized soccer in kindergarten are playing for their first time. Coaches and parents should ensure that the first priority of soccer practice is to have fun playing the game. At this age, kids should focus on the basics of the game. Cover the fundamentals, but don’t let your kids get caught up in following all of the specific rules. Most kindergarteners will be working to gain basic ball-handling skills and an understanding of the game.
Get kids moving to get soccer practice started. All variations of tag get kids running around and having fun, but kindergarteners will really enjoy a few soccer-specific types of tag. In the game body part tag, kids dribble balls around the field until the coach tells them to stop by calling out a body part they should use to stop the ball. Kids will crack up when they are told to stop the ball using their chins, stomachs and elbows. Hit the coach is another fun version of tag in which kids dribble their soccer balls around the field chasing a coach. Set a goal for how many times the kids need to tag the coach with their balls and have fun with this one. Kids have the most fun when the coach gets silly!
Red light/green light encourages kids to keep the ball close while dribbling. Have them start on one end of the field and begin dribbling their balls toward the coach when she says, “green light.” If they can’t stop their balls quickly when the coach says, “red light,” they have to take five steps back and try again. The game sharks and minnows will give kindergarteners their first taste of soccer competition. Have four players be sharks without balls in the middle of the field. The rest of the players are minnows trying to get past the sharks. If a shark gets a minnow’s ball, the minnow gets a turn being a shark.
Passing and Scoring Games
Have kids stand in a circle and place cones inside the circle. When they pass the ball to each other, they try to knock the cones down. Or, play eggs in a basket by scattering soccer balls all over the field. Have players kick all the balls into the goal as quickly as they can. Kids love being timed at this game so they can try to beat their best time. Clean my yard is a game kids love to play. Divide the team into two groups and have them stand on opposite sides of the field. Give each kid a ball and have them try to kick their ball into the other group’s yard. Kids will have a blast trying to keep their yard clean, and play continues until all the balls have been kicked out of the yards.
It is important for kids learning to play soccer to play an actual game. However, in kindergarten, most kids are still working on the skills they need to be part of a team. Emphasize fun and teamwork and do not keep score. Use scrimmage time to help them understand basic concepts such as where field boundaries are, how to throw in, and how to pass to teammates. Facilitate goal-scoring to build players’ confidence and boost their excitement.