Only a third of children are physically active every day. Less than 20 percent of teens do enough aerobic physical activity. And less than 5 percent of adults do the recommended 30 minutes of exercise each day. Frightening, isn’t it? We want to take care of our bodies, but it can be difficult to take the necessary steps.
The good news is that soccer exists! Soccer is a great physical activity that the whole family can enjoy while becoming stronger and healthier.
But how do we make playing soccer a habit when just remembering to turn off the oven is a struggle? And how do we keep at it if regular exercise has always eluded us? To make soccer an ingrained part of your family and not just a once-and-done deal, put it on your calendar, set goals together, and focus on age-appropriate activities.
Put it on the calendar.
Here’s some food for thought: “You become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis.” Before you write “I want to be a millionaire” on every sticky note in the house, brainstorm some good times for your family to play soccer together. Are you a family of morning people? Then maybe a morning soccer outing will be perfect to get the juices flowing for the rest of your busy day. Or maybe early morning soccer would never happen in a million years and early evening works better.
After you consider the time and the day that works best, consider what frequency would work for your family. If some family members aren’t wild about soccer, playing too frequently might turn them off. In this case, consider a once-monthly schedule. If everyone loves playing soccer, twice a week might work. Keep in mind the idea of balance; kids’ schedules are packed these days, and sometimes even fun activities can become just another item on a long to-do list.
After you and your family decide the best time and frequency, write your planned soccer dates down on a calendar, preferably a calendar everyone can see. That way, these family soccer activities will be something for everyone to look forward to.
Set goals together.
Remember how you’re 42 percent more likely to achieve a goal when you write it down regularly? Once family soccer activities have made it onto your calendar, apply this goal-making principle to your individual soccer game. Maybe you’d all like to get to a point where you don’t need to stop and catch your breath every ten (okay, two) minutes. Write it down!
You can also make individual goals. Your ten-year-old might want to consistently kick the ball correctly: have her write it down and work on it at family soccer. You might want to get better at using proper soccer terminology: write it down and work on it at family soccer.
The best part is that you can all support and help each other in this endeavor. Together, you’ll learn more and have fun along the way.
Focus on age-appropriate activities.
If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated with your four-year-old for not perfectly imitating the kicking form of Cristiano Renaldo, this tip is for you.
There’s nothing like playing an actual game of soccer with your family, but it might take a while to get there. Kids (and some adults) need to learn the techniques, rules, and jargon of soccer before the whole family can play a successful game together.
For kids six and under, try playing games that involve the soccer ball but that aren’t necessarily soccer. Just get them familiar with the ball and let them love it! For seven to nine, focus on fundamental soccer skills like movement and ball control. They’ll be able to understand rules better and start to see the bigger picture. For kids aged ten to thirteen, work on developing agility, creativity, and an understanding of tactics. They’ll love the challenge of digging deeper into what makes soccer a great sport. See here for great ideas for soccer games and exercises that suit specific age groups and some that the whole family can participate in.
Playing soccer together can make your family stronger, healthier, and closer together. By writing family soccer dates on your calendar, setting goals together, and focusing on age-appropriate activities, soccer will become part of your families’ lives and you’ll all grow to love it together.