Soccer Fun for Ages 3, 4, 5 and 6The fastest growing part of youth soccer is ages 3, 4, 5 and 6 (U3, U4, U5 and U6). In my neighborhood, the YMCA has the big soccer program and last year they had 140 U4 players (that's right 140 kids signed up for U4 .... U3, U5 and U6 were separate programs). They had to cut off registration. If you want to try something that is easy, inexpensive, can help quickly bring players to your Club or League, is easy to administer (no "scheduling", no "fields", no uniforms and no Referees), and can get more parents involved who you can develop as coaches and volunteers, you might want to consider doing something like the "Soccer Fun for Ages 3, 4, 5 and 6" program Coach Doug did last Fall for U3, U4, U5 and U6. The idea of this program is to expose young kids and their parents to soccer in a fun way that is fun for every kid, whether they are athletic or not. Using this approach, each kid gets hundreds of touches on the ball every time they meet. They organized by ages (3, 4, 5 and 6) and the kids went to the area where their age group was. I got the idea for this from Mark in CA who used a similar program very successfully. In a few years they built their soccer league to 2,000 players. How Coach Doug Did It: Doug's program did NOT have teams and they did NOT play real soccer matches (so there wasn't any scheduling). They met once a week, U3 and U4 at the same time and U5 and U6 at the same time, at the local park and played Coach Doug's Practice Games like "Hit the Coach", "Animal Soccer", "Follow the Leader", "Soccer Bees" and "Monster Invasion", some of which you can see on the Coach Doug Video Clips on SoccerHelp (those games are also on SoccerHelp Premium). They didn't have "soccer fields" or even goals (although pop-up goals would be great). They didn't have "coaches" - instead they had "Fun Leaders" because that sounds less intimidating to parents who haven't coached before, and it emphasizes that the idea is to have fun. All a Fun Leader did was to lead the Coach Doug Practice Games like "Hit the Coach", "Animal Soccer", "Follow the Leader", "Soccer Bees" and "Monster Invasion", which are easy to remember. That is why so many parents volunteered to help (Doug had plenty of volunteers who he recruited from the parents who brought their kids). It was supposed to last 45 minutes but everyone was having so much fun they were there for an hour until they finally had to collect the balls and send everyone home. The YMCA was the sponsor and they brought the balls (one ball per player) - the YMCA continued to own the balls so they can use them again this season. One ball per player is critical because so many of the Practice Games are 100% onball. I believe the YMCA charged about $40 per player and the players got a T-Shirt but not a ball. One thing that is important is to not let the big, aggressive kids dominate. Also, Do NOT use any "knock-out" or elimination games (none of Doug's games eliminate kids). Use Practice Games like "Hit the Coach", "Animal Soccer", "Follow the Leader", "Soccer Bees" and "Monster Invasion" where every kid has a ball. Do NOT play real games, even if some parents want to - that will actually have negative results - fewer touches and little kids getting knocked down by bigger kids. It is like a Soccer Carnival atmosphere - fun, no stress, easy-going. Doug started with 6 volunteer "Fun Leaders" and another 6 or 8 volunteered the first day without being asked. No hands are allowed in the play area, by kids, parents, siblings, or Fun Leaders - only feet can be used by everyone present. Doug had so many kids sign up that they had to cut off the sign ups because they didn't have enough parking, and Doug lives in a small town (as I recall, they cut it off at 150 players so that should give you an idea of how popular this can be). In a larger city I think you could have 300-400 kids sign up, if you wanted that many. At the last meeting of the program, they actually had a sort of "Soccer Carnival" with a cook-out, face painting and similar stuff. This is 100% "Inclusive", no pressure and all fun. It is very much like the approach advocated by a famous Physical Education teacher named Muska Mosston. Mr. Mosston advocated no elimination games (he called them Exclusive). Instead, he advocated "Inclusion". All the SoccerHelp and Coach Doug Practice Games are Inclusive - we don't use any elimination games and in most games every child has a ball and there are no lines. Our Practice Games are fun, teach important soccer skills, are easy to use, and are self-teaching (the players learn by playing the games). If you try this, please let me know how it goes and any ideas for improvement. Feel free to let the volunteers use your Premium membership so they can learn the games they will lead as Fun leaders.
GREAT Way for Churches or Non-profits to Outreach to the Community
Easy, Inexpensive Way to Quickly Grow Your Club, League, Church or Non-Profit
No "Soccer Fields", No Referees, No "Games", No Uniforms and No Scheduling
Uses "Fun Leaders" Instead of Coaches
The Fastest Growing Part of Youth Soccer
100% "Inclusive", no pressure and all fun
An Easy Way to Recruit Soccer Volunteers