If your child has taken a liking to soccer and wants to stick with it, you can help her improve her skills by encouraging "dribbling" with her head up. (Dribbling means running while simultaneously moving the ball with small, controlled kicks with both feet, up and down the field.)
Why? As her team's level of skill increases, the players will start to spread out more on the field, and more technical foot skills become part of the game. When this happens, individual "runs" and "carries" with the ball (long, controlled dribbles with a burst of speed to get past the opposing team?s defense) become more crucial to the match.
Keeping her head up allows her to keep an eye on the other players for passing and scoring opportunities. However, it's not uncommon for kids to be afraid to take their eyes off the ball, which constricts their field vision and slows them down.
Nike Youth Soccer Coach of the Year Dan Metcalfe agrees that the ability to look up with the ball is an acquired skill that takes practice to develop. Metcalfe thinks that coaches should start gradually with players. One technique he suggests is teaching the players to push the ball with their feet instead of kicking it ahead of them.
"To teach this technique, I work a lot with skipping with the ball. It is easy to feel the ball as you skip and touch the ball with every step," Metcalfe says. "As you get the rhythm down, the player will feel confident in looking around as they skip and push the ball forward. From here, build into part skip, part run, but still pushing the ball.?
Metcalfe also suggests having players dribble around in 45-second stages, calling out loud what they see around them. This will force the players to keep their heads up while maintaining possession of the ball.
Field vision is an acquired talent, but with the proper practice and time, any young soccer player can start feeding teammates like David Beckham.