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How to Teach Young Children to Dribble a Soccer Ball

Updated on September 10, 2017
Coach_Pickles profile image

Foremost expert in early learning in sports, Founder at Jelly Bean Sports, Father of 4, Masters in Human Relations, Educational Doctorate.

Children await coach's instruction
Children await coach's instruction | Source

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking out new lands, but in having a new vision.

— Marcel Proust

Teach Young Children How To Dribble a Soccer Ball - Teaching Video

A mind once stretched to a new idea never returns to its original size.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Children playing soccer
Children playing soccer | Source
No Hands
No Hands | Source

Soccer Kept Simple, Dribbling Made Fun

Dribbling is a an important part of the game of soccer. One of the biggest problems young children have is they use their hands. In our ongoing quest to prevent young children from behaving in this unsportsmanlike fashion, we have become distracted, lost opportunity, failed to think about how to innovate soccer to accommodate the early learners at its most introductory levels. We have failed to take soccer in a direction that breaks the perpetual cycle of needing to tell young children, "No hands!"

Hard to do, I understand, in more traditional terms, but non-competitive early learning in sports offers the freedom to think differently. It is much more flexible because it is non-competitive and the relinquishing of rules and strategy allows us to think more outside the box. Essentially, what you see in soccer does not necessarily have to be what you get. And with that being understood, the case of helping young children to better understand the most basic concepts of soccer becomes not only innovating but revolutionary.

The exercises and coaching techniques in this hub are especially designed to show you how to effectively introduce soccer to young children, the Jelly Bean Way. It offers early learners, children ages 2-5 years old, teachings with NOVELTY and CONTRAST. Research-based and classroom proven; they are designed in the ways early learners like to think and are, by association, most effectively taught. Included for you are coaching videos. They establish context, a firsthand account of how quickly the exercises are set-up and how easily they are executed by young children.

It is important to note, this is early learning-oriented, non-traditional soccer teachings. Yes, evidence young soccer dribbling "phenoms" can be found floating around YouTube, but they do not represent the majority of young children's capabilities. We must keep our expectations reasonable.

Thanks for stopping by, if you like what you read be sure to FOLLOW Coach_Pickles to find other interesting young sports-related hubs like this one and to receive updates when new hubs are published.


Lesson Overview

Teaching Time: 5 Minutes

Equipment: Size 2 or Size 3 Soccer Balls

# of Steps: 3

Ages Appropriate for: 2.5 years +

Level of Instructional Difficulty: Medium

Keywords and Phrases: dribble, soccer ball, mousetrap, cones, colors, numbers, three bears

Teaching Objectives

Parent/coach will:

  1. better understand how young children think about sports
  2. better understand how to modify teachings to fit the ways young children think about sports
  3. keep sports simple
  4. make learning fun

The Assessment

Soccer is a game of movement. Young children are wired to move. Getting young children off on the right foot when introducing them to soccer should be, in theory, about getting them moving as quickly, after they arrive, as possible.

In the case of early learners, the warm-up is a time I use as my soccer assessment period. I set it up before the practice starts to be ready to engage young children when they arrive. The Jelly Bean Way is to use medium-sized (8" high) cones as target practice.

Prior to our Jelly Bean family's arrival, I will spread twenty cones around the floor, grass or turf. After welcoming everyone, I talk to the parents of the children, my "extra pair of hands." They are instructed to tell the children to get a soccer ball and use it to kick the cones down. I suggest parents demonstrate so children understand. Every cone children knock down, I instruct the children to say, "Yes!" This positively reinforces the action while also helping me to hear the successes children are having with the exercise, especially, when I am not able to directly look at them. Throughout, I am also observing their skills, coordination and assessing their confidence inside the process.

As children are kicking the cones down, I utilize my extra pair of hands, the parents, to simple use their toe to tip the cones back up. This process is part of a well-oiled machine that welcomes families into practice and does so with them knowing immediately what to do for the corresponding weeks.

The Assessment only gets more fun four minutes into class. This is when the soccer balls are removed and children are required to use just their feet to kick the cones down. As parents and I work hard to keep the cones tipped up and keep the fun going; I am assessing children's footwork and speed heading into the kick. Younger or less experienced players will "bulldoze" the cone, shuffling through them with both feet. More experiences players will address the cone, planting and kicking.


3 Bears and Flo Jelly Bean Dribbling a Soccer Ball
3 Bears and Flo Jelly Bean Dribbling a Soccer Ball | Source

Instruction

Step 1 - 3 Bears

  1. Find a picture representation of the three bears.
  2. Show it to the children.
  3. Identify each bear for them.
  4. However, as you do mix up their names. Call for example Momma Bear, Pappa Bear. The kids will correct you. It is your job to incorrectly name the bears two more times before buying into the kids suggestion of their real names.

Step 2 - Papa Bear Dribbles

Introduce the kids to 3 Bears Dribbling beginning with Papa Bear. Have the kids sit on their soccer ball to hear what you say next.

  1. I have kids put on their imaginary Papa Bear heads (bending over to the ground, picking it up like I would a giant beachball and putting it onto my shoulders.) I tell them good, now everyone is Papa Bear. Next tell them, "Papa Bear likes to dribble or kick the ball fast and a little out of control at times. Do you think you can dribble the soccer ball fast?" Let the children answer you.
  2. Ask them to show you how Papa Bear dribbles the soccer ball.

Step 3 - Momma Bear Dribbles

  1. Introduce Mama Bear. Have the kids sit on their soccer ball again.
  2. I have kids put on their imaginary Mama Bear heads (again bending over to the ground, picking it up like I would a giant beachball and putting it onto my shoulders.) I tell them good, now everyone is Mama Bear. Next tell them, "Mama Bear likes to dribble or kick the ball slow and in control. Do you think you can dribble the soccer ball slow or with little kicks (demonstrate)?" Let the children answer you.
  3. Ask them to show you how Mama Bear dribbles the soccer ball.

Step 4 - Baby Bear Dribbles

  1. Introduce Baby Bear. Have the kids sit on their soccer ball to hear what you say next.
  2. I have kids take off their Mama Bear heads and put on their imaginary Baby Bear heads (again bending over to the ground, picking it up like I would a giant beachball and putting it onto my shoulders.) I tell them good, now everyone is Baby Bear. Next tell them, "Baby Bear likes to dribble or kick the ball not too fast and not too slow but..Just...? (let the kids answer). Do you think you can dribble the soccer ball fast?" Let the children answer you.
  3. Ask them to show you how Baby Bear dribbles the soccer ball. As they dribble, I will reinforce saying to them, "Not too fast and not too slow...Just...?)

Sports terminology can be confusing
Sports terminology can be confusing | Source

Instructional Reminders

  • Have patience
  • Be hands-off in your coaching
  • Teach to all children not just the best learners
  • Be kind, avoid frustration...have patience

© 2011 Dr Brad Kayden

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