What Is 'Early Engagement' In Soccer?

coaches parents players Dec 02, 2023

What is Early Engagement?

Early engagement means learning to control and manipulate the ball early in life, at the youngest ages. Basically, as soon as your child can walk, you should have them engaging with a ball.

Think of this early engagement as a huge head start for them in soccer, much like language learning where starting early is a huge advantage for fluency.

A child's brain is 95% developed by the age of 6, so early engagement is crucial in terms of creating a strong foundation for being able to enjoy and excel at soccer.

What exercises should my child be doing?

You should encourage your son or daughter to use different parts of their feet to move and manipulate the ball, including the use of their sole which is crucial. Allow them to experiment but encourage them to use BOTH feet as much as possible.

Engaging in ball mastery exercises at a young age also helps to develop cognitive, physical, emotional and social skills.

It takes a certain level of focus, concentration and discipline to stay on task; paying attention is perhaps one of the most important skills any parent can help their child to develop.

What size soccer balls do I need?

It is helpful to have soccer balls of different sizes for variety and increased learning, so get a size 2 and a size 4, plus a tennis ball. 

What is the end result of doing this training?

If your child starts at a young age (around 2 or 3), they’ll be capable of exceptional ball control and manipulation by the time they are 6 or 7 years old.

That sets them up to be able to compete and improve quicker during team training with other players, once they go into the team environment.

If you want to see progression examples from age 2 to age 8 using basic footwork exercises, click the YouTube link below to view Tom Byer's playlist (American coach who is very well known for his early engagement approach):


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