One of the most important skills that kids learn in soccer is to understand the difference between defence and offence. Though these might seem like simple enough concepts, it’s pretty amazing to watch kids learn how to navigate these two vastly different aspects of the field.
When kids run onto a soccer field, their natural inclination is to of course run over to the ball and try to kick it into the goal as quickly as possible. Without thinking, they just head that way, no matter where they started off on the field. Coaches have to offer truly explicit instructions and direction in order to channel that energy into an ordered pattern. In fact, soccer really is about patterns. How the ball moves is a pattern. The shape that the players make in relation to one another is a pattern. It can be a big challenge to see those patterns when you’re standing in a huddle on the field!
Young children can really benefit from the structure that comes with learning about defence versus offence. It’s truly fantastic to watch the little lightbulbs go on in their heads as they begin to make sense of what it means to kick the ball away from the goal and then what it means to kick the ball towards the goal. Most young kids have never even considered that there was a difference the only two options on the field were to be the goalie protecting the goal and the kickers trying to get it in! Offering them the means to be successful in the game by giving them a more strict structure–to both kick the ball towards the goal as well as keeping the opposing team from getting too close– opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
Teamwork at its Best
Perhaps the best thing about learning defence and offence is that players truly learn how to work together in a team environment. By working through defence and offence, soccer players learn how to delineate between the different jobs on the field, rather than just viewing the kids on the field as one big blob of kids who are somewhat unrelated.
By learning about what both defence and offence mean, young soccer players begin to see how the bonds that they create with their teammates leads them to playing more effectively, fostering teamwork both on and off the field.