Cultivating Interest and Teaching Soccer Fundamentals to Elementary Students


Health Promotion and Physical Education

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Soccer has become extremely popular in the United States in the last decade. Participation in youth soccer, in particular, continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down. It is important for coaches who teach at an elementary level to nurture this interest in the sport by teaching sound fundamental skills. According to Harter's competence motivation theory (1978, 1981), individuals who perceive themselves as competent in sport are more likely to continue their participation, while those low in perceived physical competence will likely discontinue participation in a sport. If Harter's theory is correct, we can conclude that the more skillful students become in soccer, the more likely they are to continue to participate throughout their lives. Community-based programs focus on competition rather than skill development, so youngsters who play on community teams are more at risk of dropping out of soccer at an early age. The key, then, is for physical educators to teach skills that focus on improvement, so that students stay involved.

According to Schmidt and Wrisberg (2000), skill learning is not value free. Teaching motor skills in an incorrect way can lead to forming bad habits that affect students' confidence and become difficult to correct in the future. Schmidt and Wrisberg note that younger students are more flexible in learning new skills and developing correct motor patterns than older students if they are properly taught. Our intent, therefore, is to provide some helpful soccer techniques and tips that are different from those found in traditional instruction books. Kicking and trapping techniques and ball control are the key skills to focus on during the elementary years. The game of soccer revolves around these skills and is fundamental to active participation.

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