6 Life Lessons Your Child Can Learn From Soccer


Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world, whether played professionally or just for fun. But are there benefits your children can derive from the game, beyond simple exercise? In fact, soccer provides a large number of life lessons for its players, six of which are outlined below.

1. Teamwork

Soccer requires a great deal of teamwork. Each player has a different, important role to play: the defenders stop their opponents from scoring, the midfielders back up the defenders, spread play and serve as a link to the attackers, whose main role is to score goals.

Trusting teammates to do their jobs is of the utmost importance to success. One person does not make a team, and the different skills and experiences of the players – both individually and working together – help to build confidence in each other.

Being able to function as part of a successful team is one of the most important lessons any child can learn. They may not always work as part of a larger group, but being able to relate to, trust and communicate with others will serve them well.

2. Discipline

At any level of play, soccer requires discipline. A player’s self-control must extend beyond the physical requirement of passing accurately, controlling the ball and working for good field position. Hostile opponents, rough tackles, a biased referee… there are hundreds of emotional challenges in every game, and a player’s emotional control can be the difference between winning and losing.

The physical aspect also gets tougher at more serious levels of play. Each player’s every move in practice and in matches is recorded on film and analysed by coaches. Implementing changes for improvement demands that players show a great deal of self-awareness and the discipline to continually monitor their movement and position on the field.

On top of this, attaining higher professional levels requires discipline off the pitch. Strict behaviour rules and curfews are regularly implemented by coaching staff. Obeying them without complaint helps players become more disciplined and can easily be the difference between success and failure at the highest professional levels.

Children with strong, healthy self-discipline almost always do better in life, whether that means earning more, achieving more or being happier. Soccer  teaches this essential skill without resorting to cruel or brutal methods.

3. Hard work

Vizari Astro Soccer Ball

Alongside teamwork, soccer teaches that the only sure path to success is through hard work. This is especially true at local league and professional levels, where players frequently have to work very hard – and often in unfriendly conditions – in order to reach the goals set by their trainers and coaches.

Players also learn that, in order to be successful in the game, they have to go the extra mile. Where their teammates may practice for an hour, the best players will practice for three or four. Top players like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi are known to practice longer than their teammates. This has helped them get to the level at which they play, and to maintain their success.

Soccer  not only teaches children that hard work is required to achieve results, but that hard work does not necessarily guarantee success. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but even though children who work hard may not always achieve more than those who do not, they are generally more satisfied with what they achieve.

4. Setting Goals

There are a lot of things soccer players do that can be measured. And where there is measurement, there is a sure chance of improvement. Setting goals helps achieve that improvement.

For example, an attacker can set goals to increase running speed, to improve ball control or to score a certain number of goals in a season. A defender can set goals to reduce their number of rough tackles, increase their jumping height for handling corner kicks or work on improving stamina.
A midfielder could work to increase the number of passes and their accuracy while a goalkeeper always tries to reduce the number of goals they let in.

Humans have a strong need to grow and improve. Soccer helps children get started on the right foot with good goal-setting habits, based not on fantasy but on things that can be measured.

5. Perseverance

Soccer provides an enormous number of challenges that test and help build perseverance. Losing a big game, being cut from the first team, missing or conceding a goal that costs the game – all these and many other challenges constantly pick at a player’s confidence and tempt him or her to quit.

The physical side of the game also demands perseverance, both physical and mental. Unless a player is substituted during play, they will be on the field and active for 45 minutes without any breaks. And after the half-time whistle, they’ll have another 45 minutes to cope with. Players may not be running the whole time they are on the pitch, but they still have to be active, aware and ready to respond to changes in play at any time.

Soccer is an excellent tool for building mental and physical stamina in children. They don’t have to play full 90-minute games, of course, but encouraging them to be active and aware throughout the entire match builds physical and mental muscles that will serve them well.

The Everything Kids' Soccer Book: Rules, techniques, and more about your favorite sport6. Healthy Competition

Like all good sports, soccer provides an avenue for healthy competition. It’s true that winning matches is much nicer, but players learn not to react badly, regardless of the outcome. As they say, “it’s the taking part that counts”.

This can be a tough lesson to teach, as professional soccers do not always show sportsmanlike conduct even if they win. Soccer has a reputation as an extremely competitive sport, so it is important to reinforce the times when players act in a sporting fashion or shake hands after a match.

With its long history as both a pastime and a professional sport, soccer is much more than just a simple game. If the positive lessons it teaches are taken to heart, children can get much more out of soccer than just a bit of exercise.


Want to learn more about soccer? Find some great tips from FIFA Grassroots programme.


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