Friday, January 15, 2016

Recreational Soccer

We enjoyed recreational soccer and are thankful that there are non-profit organizations to provide opportunities for the kids to practice soccr and play games.  It cost almost nothing for the parents.  The coaches are dedicated and really nice and they are volunteeres.
For the games they play, there were no score keeping.  Participation is encouraged.  At the end of the season, every kid will get a small trophy from the organization.

My kids played about 3 years’ recreational soccer until they moved on to join a club to play competitive soccer.
During summer and winter, there is no more outdoor soccer because of the weather.  But we have indoor soccer organized by some indoor facilities.  We’ve found it beneficial to move around with different teams and coaches.  Every coach will teach something different and kids learn different stuff from them.
The teams vary quite a lot.  Since the team size is small for young kids, a team can easily become a strong team if they have 2-3 strong players.  But after 2 seasons, many of the volunteer coaches will quit as they take their kids to try some other sports.  Unless some other parent step up to be the coach, the team will be split up and fed to other teams that are missing players.  The parents cannot pick which team they want their kids to go.  The organization will do the team assignment according to where the kids live.  
This happened to Alexander.  His first team was quite strong and they played for a year together.  After that, he went to a new team that most players never played soccer before.  It was hard for them to play against teams that most of the players already played for a year together.  They lost so many times.  Though there were no score keeping, at age of 6, the kids already understand scores and winning or losing.  It was tough trials for kids in the losing team.  They could turn pretty emotional.
Minglun went through a tough period of time.  When I talked with another mom whose son played in Minglun’s previous team also, she mentioned that his son was going through about the same after they had 6 or 7 straight losses.  He was angry with his parents after they were beaten up by a strong team and he asked why his parents didn’t sign him up with that strong team.
The only good thing that came out of it is that Alexander started playing really hard and became an aggressive forward player.  Before in the previous team, Alexander figured out how he should play and assigned himself to be a defender.  My husband helped to train him some defending skills.  Now as Minglun’s team kept losing, my husband told him that he had to try to score goals for his team to win.
At young age, the kids don’t play positions.  They pretty much play the way they want.  But for kids over 6 years old, some coaches started teaching kids about positions or keep a diamond shape when they play.  The teams that can do this can easily win the other teams whose players still run in a pack.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Play with Heart

My husband always says to the kids:  to play soccer, you need to have the heart for it.  I did see kids from recreational soccer teams that were really playing hard and were crazy about scoring goals.  My kids were not that type.  Both of them stayed behind.  How to build passion into kids' hearts?

One thing I notice is that whenever my husband is present to watch the game, my kids are more engaged in the game.  Otherwise they don't seem to care much.  As boys, they are probably more eager to impress their dad than their mom.  There is notion of soccer moms.  Moms are primarily the ones that drive kids to different activities, such as soccer practice and soccer games.  When my husband eventually made adjustment to his work schedule so he can come to the kids' soccer practices and games, he noticed that he saw many soccer moms, but not that many soccer dads.  He commented that for the boys to play soccer well, the soccer dads need to be more engaged.  He also mentioned that he noticed sonehow more soccer dads show up for the girl soccer teams.

Besides training the kids and going to their practices, my husband also bought some soccer movies and books for the kids.  I don't remember much about the books.  But the kids watched each movie many times.  I also watch the movie with them.  Some of them are very inspiring and some are really funny and the kids love them a lot.

Here is a list of the movies we watched.

Victory  (1981),                                                                                            

This is a classic soccer movie.  It is very inspiring.  Though it is old, it is very cool to watch.  After this movie, Alexander practiced a lot doing a Rainbow and finally was able to do it after 1-2 months.  Pelé played in this movie as well.  

Goal! and Goal 2 are pretty good soccer story movies.


Goal! is a story how an immigrant who has talents in soccer eventually became a professional soccer player.In Goal 2, the story continues as the soccer player became a star, he also goes through some trials.  It is good that this movie was made after the first because no matter what, the kids have dreams of becoming a soccer star.  But the second movie can teach them to be careful when fame comes otherwise life can easily stumble.

This is a fun soccer little league movie.  It is good for young kids.  There was a boy in the movie that was able to kick the ball high in the air and catch it with his back.  After watching this movie a few times, Minglun started practice on that move.  It took quite some time and he was finally able to do it before he turned 8.  That was one of his cool moves.  Not many kids at that age is able to do it.  Nowadays, he is able to do it easily and combine that with some other moves.  

Soccer Dog

This is a fun movie to watch for young kids.

Kicking and Screaming

This is a comedy movie played by Will Ferrell.  It is hilarious.

This another inspiring soccer game movie.

This movie is a story about girls playing soccer.  It is nice movie to watch.  My kids like to watch US Women soccer to play.  They gave high credits to their skills and ability to win the game.

As I mentioned in earlier post, my husband was using the youtube channel at Victorio Texas to post kids videos.  He has been searching good soccer videos on youtube and add them as Favorites.  The kids watch those videos at spare time.  My husband took the kids to watch MLS soccer games at FC Dallas stadium.  But he encourage the kids to watch those soccer videos on youtube to see how people play soccer outside Untied States.

The kids watched a lot of soccer videos of Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Maradona, Pelé, etc.  Nowadays, they know a lot about famous soccer players and world cup history.  Alexander often says that he has a soccer library in his head.  Sometimes he asks me to question him about soccer and he will give a detailed answer about a player or a soccer team.

Recent years, they watch the newer soccer movie about Messi and Cristian Ronaldo.

The Flea - The Amazing Story of Leo Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo The Rise of a Winner

Friday, December 25, 2015

Family Soccer Rules

My husband made kids remember 4 principles while playing soccer:  be strong, be smart, be fast and be aggressive.  He even calls them the Victorio rules.

  • Be Strong – When I am weak, then I am strong.  When I am feeling tired, hurting, or playing under bad weather or against a tough team, I need to push myself to be strong.
  • Be Smart – I need to have a good feeling of the situation on the field, knowing when to dribble, when to pass, and when to shoot to the goal.  Be a good decision maker.
  • Be Fast – I need to run fast, be fast with the ball, and use fast foot work.
  • Be Aggressive – Do not have fear, because fear makes you stop and fear slows you down.

Playing Soccer At Early Age

I didn't think much when I signed up Alexander with a local soccer association when he was four and half.  It is a good sport at first place.  And it is fun.  I am not really a big big soccer fan.  And I think most parents are like me.  I watch world cup every 4 years and that's mostly it.  However, after my kids started playing soccer, I became a big fan of them.
The soccer they play with the soccer association is called recreational soccer.  The coaches are volunteering dad.  The kids are put into teams.  They play very small field.  Four players on each side with no goalies.  They normally have one practice and one game per week.  It is fun activity for the kids.  
There are kids that are very into it.  They just want the ball and score goals while most other kids just stand watching.  Alexander was the one that always stay behind.  He either follow other kids and run after them, either he just play silly in the field.  My husband had to work every Saturday those days and couldn't come to Alexander's games.  By the time my husband was able to come one Saturday to watch Alexander's game, he was shocked.  He couldn't believe his son play soccer like that.  My husband didn't play much soccer himself.  But he grew up in South America, so he knows soccer.  From then on, my husband jumped in and picked up his soccer dad's duty.
One thing we realized from kids playing recretional soccer or competitive soccer is, the coach is for the team.  Kids need help from other place to learn soccer and develop individual skills. At early age, the person responsible for training the kids individually is the dad.  My husband saw that Alexander didn't have the basic skills of kicking the ball, stopping the ball or running with the ball, so he started from the very basic.
One really good thing that my husband trained both kids is to let them to use both of their feet.    The kids practiced a lot on that.  Kicking the ball using right foot only and then using left foot only.  Now we can see the benefits.  It doesn't matter which direction the ball comes, they can use either foot to kick it.  And when they are in front of the goal, they don't have to shift foot and lose that precious half second but score goal with either foot.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Raising Soccer Kids

I have two boys, who are passionate about soccer.  My husband is super passionate about training them.  He often talks with me about soccer and his plan to train the kids.  Some of his thoughts amazed me and I always wanted to put them into notes.  So finally I am getting this started.
It is not easy raising soccer kids (boys) in this country, United States.  This is what my husband has been telling me and I more and more realized that myself.  We are blessed to have so many privileges in this country but soccer is not one of the main sports over here.  There are so many soccer clubs here and there and we can find tournaments all around the schedule.  However, the whole environment is not easy for kids to develop soccer skills and stay passionate about soccer.  Raising soccer kids is pretty hard work.  I would like to share what we have learned through the years.  
My elder son Alexander started playing soccer at the age of four and half and he just turned 12 this month.  The blogs I am going to write will cover recreational soccer, soccer clubs, soccer camps, Division 1 classic league and ODP, etc.  But mostly I would like to write about soccer skill development from observing my husband and the kids.
My husband is an avid video maker.  Here are some videos that may interest you if you are reading this blog.
Alexander on TV KDAF, CW33  when he was 8

Alexander and Arthur Training in Futsal when Alexander was 9, Arthur 6

Alexander at 9

Alexander and Arthur’s UK trip when they with local kids -Alexander at 11 and Arthur at 9

Training Video – Alexander at 11 and Arthur at 9

Alexander Soccer Skills – at 11

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(I later realized that my blog is more toward boys soccer.  I think for girls, the environment is different and is favorable for girls' development of soccer skills.  The result of US women soccer already demonstrated that.)