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Toddler Soccer ROCKS

2014 April 27
by Becky

When my neighbor mentioned three year old soccer at our local YMCA, I almost laughed.

I immediately imagined us showing up each week, dragging Ethan out on the field, coaxing him into kicking the ball, and bribing him with snacks to run around. I thought, “No way can three year olds handle this.”

Boy was I wrong.

Toddler Soccer - Trap Pose

OK so the first practice, everyone was a little shell shocked. Parents and grandparents stood around the small field cheering and watching their little ones try their first sport. Ethan did NOT want to participate…he did this almost the whole time.

Toddler Soccer - First Day

He wouldn’t put on the team shirt, refused to warmup, and wanted to leave after 20 minutes, as did many other kids. I wasn’t able to make this practice but was anxiously awaiting texts about it from Stu and wasn’t all the surprised when I saw, “This may have been a huge mistake” come across my phone screen. It’s no fun to sign your kid up for something they don’t want to do. But Ethan always needs what I call “warm-up time”. The first time we do anything new, he needs time to adjust, take it all in—at least 30 minutes. After that he’s fine, and the next time we do that same activity he acts like he owns the place, exuding confidence.

So week one was rough.

But week two? AWESOME.

Toddler Soccer - Team Meeting

The kids showed up ready to play. And the coach? Incredible. Coach Mark knows exactly how to encourage toddlers to enjoy playing soccer. Fun warmups, enthusiastic rule descriptions, and team building tales, changing up the program every ten minutes or so to keep things interesting. Sure some of the kids start losing their steam after 30-40 minutes but that’s totally reasonable.

That 30 minute mark usually entails a quick recharge, a little snack to get his energy back.


Sometimes it’s a quick pep talk, giving him the motivation to get back out there.

Toddler Soccer - Pep Talk

An hour is a long time.

Each week they get a little more patient waiting in line to shoot goals. Each week they last a little longer before getting distracted by the super fun hill that borders the field. Trapping, dribbling, kicking, shooting, and last week they learned about body deflection using chest and head. It involved the coach bonking each kid on the head with the ball as they tucked their chin down—awesome. They can do it all!! Never did I think three year olds would be this good.

Toddler Soccer - Kick

Toddler Soccer - Warm Up

We have an absolute blast lounging in the grass, talking to our neighbors and school friends, watching the adorableness happening on the field. Our favorite part is “Keep Away” where the parents around the circle keep the ball in play as the kids run around trying to trap it. So funny.

Never did I think team sports would be a part of our life this early but so far its incredibly fun. I’m kind of starting to understand parents that love dragging themselves to seemingly endless sporting events to support their kids—kind of. I get it, being proud of your child for achieving and having fun, but not being a big sports fan myself, all-day tournaments and away games make me a little nervous.

(We’re also getting a taste of “Sports Parenting”…those adults that get a little, um, “testy” when it comes to their kids playing sports.)

Toddler Soccer - Team PhotoFirst Team Photo

I’m sure I’ll get into whatever Ethan loves (please let it include music!). And no doubt Stu will more than make up for any lack of enthusiasm on my part. He’s the sports dude.

But I’m getting head of myself. For now I can’t wait to watch Ethan and all his buddies improve week after week and have a blast doing it.

What was your kids first sport? Was it a success? 

5 Responses
  1. Linda Johnson permalink
    April 28, 2014

    I hope I can see Ethan playing Soccer when I come to visit. I love the team picture and Ethan’s soccer attire. So they even have those “Sports Parents” at Ethan’s age? Wow, I always disliked those parents.

    Ethan’s dad Stu and his Aunt Amy were team swimmers at a very young age. While living in Arizona many days were spent at the local pool where they both took swimming lessons. Stu’s hair turned blond due to all the chlorine from swimming.

  2. April 28, 2014

    What fun! I spent my childhood playing softball. Actually was still playing in my 20s. It was great family time with parents and siblings there to watch and cheer. We defintely had “awful sports parents” too. Enjoy!

  3. May 26, 2014

    That is awesome! I thought it was a bit tough when my 6 yr old son started playing football so I can’t really imagine him at 3 being organized. But it seems you had the right coach with the right amount of patience! :)
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  4. October 12, 2015

    This was a fun read. Very adorable. Sports can play a huge role in children’s lives. They have the opportunity to learn important “life skills” such as: team work, responsibility, listening to authority, handling wins and losses and many more. All of these will help mold and prepare them for later in life. I’m glad that you child warmed up to soccer and enjoys. I’m glad you enjoy it. Those are both most important. Thanks so much for the share!

  5. June 21, 2016

    I love the pictures. The kids are adorable.
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