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Summer Olympics Inspired Sports

Whether it’s gymnastics, soccer, or skateboarding, there’s something for everyone when it comes to the summer Olympics. Dive into a world of international sports, from table tennis to basketball. Feeling inspired by your favorite athletes competing on the world stage? Here are some beginner sports camps and classes for kids who are captivated by Olympic sports this year.

Online Classes

Pintsize Soccer: Backyard Edition (PreK – Gr 8)

Soccer skills and fun games that kids can do from the safety of their own backyard, garage or patio.  Your child will practice their individual gross motor skills, focus and agility to keep them sharp and ready for when the season begins! 

With fun challenges they can practice at home, your child will gain new skills and develop their passion for new challenges.

Martial Arts and Life Lessons (Ages 5-11)

Family Karate provides fun, fitness, karate, and life skills.  Now your child can enjoy our unique blend of martial arts and character building in our live online classes with a Master Instructor.

They’re here to help your child become even more engaged, strong and optimistic during this unique time.  Grit, resilience and laughter have never been more important than right now.

Beginning Judo Class (Ages 3-12)

Hajime Judo (Beginning Judo) teaches judo technique, culture, and character. As kids learn basic judo techniques, they work on developing balance, coordination and confidence. Every class finishes with games that develop motor skills and ends with laughter and fun. This is an amazing place to get your kids active and introduce them to martial arts. 

LEGO Creativity Camp: Sports (Ages 5-12)

What is your favorite sport?  Make it come to life during this week-long camp! 

Explore and enhance your LEGO building skills making stadiums, gyms, courts, obstacle courses and fields.  Learn how to make a round ball, a football, goals, or any other item you might use in your sport.  

Kids Fitness and Gymnastics (Ages 3-6) 

Join Fun & Fit TumbleBus for virtual gymnastics style fitness videos! They’re just created a NEW workout video. Get 2 warm up song videos,  1 gymnastics style workout, and free bonus videos!

Virtual TumbleBus videos are intended to promote a love of fitness in preschool and young elementary school age children. Videos work on children’s motor skills, listening & following directions, basic gymnastics, and balance, coordination & strength needed for all sports!

Challenger Sports Soccer Videos (Ages 3-8)

Access these on-demand videos with all sorts of soccer exercises and games! Go around the world with Mr. Matt, play soccer games with Smelli Elli, or go international with soccer in Spain or France. These videos can be viewed on your own time and are perfect for kids to try out soccer in the comfort of their own backyard.

In-Person Camps (SF Bay Area)

Tennis Summer Camp (Ages 6-14)

Follow in the footsteps of Naomi Osaka with a tennis summer camp! Introduce your child to something new this year with an exciting day camp experience. Euro School of Tennis will help make your child’s summer action packed on the tennis court. This is a chance to learn about tennis from personalized instructors who can help your child attain new skills in a fun, safe environment. Full day sessions include swimming and games in the afternoon. Half day morning or afternoon is also available. 

Kids Novice Tennis Classes (Ages 6-8)

No Tennis Experience? No Worries. Beginner Kids Tennis Lessons are Here!

The perfect time to help your child learn more about tennis is right now with our beginning kids tennis lessons. Dubbed the Mini Aces program, this class is designed for kids 6 – 8. This intergrade tennis program is the ideal option for first through third grade kids who haven’t had any real exposure to the game. Every clinic is a great way to keep your child active while helping them understand the basics. From learning more about game play to serve and return skills, we’ll help your child learn what to do in a match while having a great time.

Coach Ken Soccer Camps (Ages 4-12)

What a summer for soccer! Learn new and exciting soccer skills with Coach Ken. Coach Ken’s Soccer Camps have a proven record of helping kids achieve their full potential as soccer players. The coaches are knowledgeable and passionate about the game. All lessons are age-appropriate, challenging, and fun. All levels are welcome.

SPeeD Academy Golf Camp (Ages 5-17)

Try out the newly-reinstated Olympic sport: golf! All SPeeD Academy classes are taught by golf professional Roy Day, PGA. Roy has been named US Kids Top 50 Junior Instructors (2006-2008) and US Kids Master Junior Instructors (2009 to present). In addition to being extremely knowledgeable about golf, Roy makes learning FUN!!

Intro to Fencing (Ages 6-10)

This year, fencing consists of three separate events at the Olympics. Join in the fencing fun with this introduction fencing class. Learn to fence and have fun with peers in a safe way at Maximum Fencing Club. All equipment is provided. 

Legarza Basketball Camp (Ages 5-14)

Take after US flag bearer Sue Bird with basketball! At this camp, campers work hard and feel good about themselves in a safe, disciplined, highly structured and motivating environment. Players will learn to work together in a team setting while playing games and tournaments.

Camps are divided up by age and experience, keeping groups separated for the best overall camp experience. The equipment and curriculum for each age group is very different and age appropriate.

Little Twisters Gymnastics Camp (Ages 3-5)

Join Little Twisters this summer for days full of Gymnastics, Games, Free Play, Dance, Snack Times, and an End of the Week Performance. The facility is the cleanest and kid friendly facility in Santa Clara County and our instructors are top-notch. Sign up for this camp for a week of fun and gymnastics that your children will love.

Summer Ping Pong Camp (Ages 5-16)

Beginners with no previous table tennis experience will engage in learning exercises designed to energize, entertain and build a strong table tennis foundation.  Intermediate and advanced players, (competitive table tennis athletes who aim to take their game to the next level), will engage in rigorous training sessions that focus on technique, game strategies, skill reinforcement and physical conditioning. Players of all skills can join to try out ping pong and have fun practicing together. 

Skateboarding Camps (Ages 5-14)

New to the Olympics, skateboarding has swept the world as a fun and high-energy event. Try out skateboarding with Golden Gate Skateboarding. Start camp with an introduction to skateboarding specific stretching/yoga routines that improve performance and reduce injury probabilities. Cover beginner level skills all the way up to more advanced skills like Ollies, kickflips, 50-50 grinds, frontside 180’s and many more tricks. All skill levels are welcome!

In-Person Camps (Los Angeles)

Basketball Camp (Gr 2 – Gr 5)

Learn the fundamentals of shooting, passing, and dribbling. Understand the strategy of playing basketball. Have fun in one of KidzToPros’ most popular sports camps! Whether the camper is a first-timer or experienced player, they’ll learn skills that will carry them on to the next level. They’ll end each day engaged, passionate, and motivated for the next day of basketball camp! 

Girls Leadership & Soccer Camps (Ages 5-13)

This girls-only leadership and soccer summer camp is an opportunity for girls of all playing levels to refine and develop new soccer skills. Along the way, make friends and gain exposure to new experiences including dance, artistic expression, and leadership training.

Super Soccer Stars Camp (Ages 5-10)

When school is out, soccer is in! Super Soccer Stars and Soccer Stars United are kicking into this season with summer, holiday, and day-off soccer camps. Coaches work with 4-8 children to build skills and create a team atmosphere. Have fun with the FUNdamentals of soccer! Kids across the country can have a blast in a safe, high-energy soccer camp that will keep them active and allow them to socialize with friends. 

Wrestling Club (Ages 6-12)

The Devil’s Gate Wrestling Club is a youth wrestling club chartered by USA Wrestling in 2014 with the goal of introducing the local community to the sport of wrestling. Their coaching philosophy seeks to teach wrestlers how to motivate and challenge themselves. The Devil’s Gate Wrestling Club strives to implement and teach our youth wrestlers core values like hard work, dedication, goal-setting, and discipline. 

Tiny Tees Golf Camp (Ages 3 – 13)

Tiny Tees Golf Summer Camp is open to players of all skill levels from beginner to advanced, ages 3-13. Children will work on individual golf skills: full swing, putting, pitching, chipping, bunker play, golf course etiquette, and course play.  Introduce your kids to golf through this fun camp designed for young beginners!

Karate Class (Ages 7+)

These classes teach Shorin-Ryu Karate, a traditional Okinawan martial art, and the complete system of self-defense. Beginning classes will teach basic blocks, strikes, and kicks, and the first form. Advance through these martial arts lessons with Wilmington Karate Club this summer. 

Olympic Games: Science, Art, and Outdoor Camp (Grades K-8 at Different Locations)

Go for the gold in a triumphant Olympic journey. This camp combines art, science and outdoor challenges that build creative confidence, nurture social development and deliver the big summer fun they crave—all in small groups that put safety first. 75% of time is spent outdoors!

Get fired up to create mixed-media torches or glittering medals to light up the games. Master the mechanics of athletes and their equipment by designing high-flying archery bows, judo robots or a go-kart you can race in (a Galileo Olympic event only). Celebrate the Olympic spirit with a range of outdoor games!

Surf & Swimming Camp (Ages 5-15)

This camp is focused on surfing, swimming, and playing at the beach. All surfboards and bodyboards are provided at camp. Experienced instructors will lead kids in swimming, basic surf techniques, and surfing etiquette. Learn about ocean safety and conservation while having safe play time in and out of the water! This is a great opportunity to spend time getting more familiar with our beautiful coast, and the power and fun of the ocean.


For more sports camps and classes near you, check out


Camps Soccer Sports Uncategorized

Soccer Camp for Kids: Finding the Right Fit for your Child’s Goals

Read our Ultimate Soccer Camp Guide for expert tips on choosing the best soccer camp to fit your child’s age, skill level and overall soccer goals.

Find kids soccer camps near me | Summer Camps at Activity Hero

Soccer camps are one of the most popular summer camps on ActivityHero. Played by over 2 million children nationwide*, youth soccer appeals to children of all ages and skill levels. With both recreational and travel soccer leagues in the Bay Area, there are many opportunities for both beginner and elite players to play year round.  It is also a sport that can be started at an early age, with many kids soccer camps accepting those as young as 3 years old.

Finding the right soccer camp depends on your  child’s age and motivation. Does your child dream of being the next Lionel Messi or Alex Morgan? Or, do you simply want a fun summer camp to keep your child active this summer?

Soccer Development by Age

From preschool to high school, soccer camps structure their programs to meet children at various levels of development. 

  • Ages 3-5: The focus for the very youngest players is primarily on strengthening gross motor skills, socialization and having fun! Soccer drills for preschoolers are often just multipurpose games to keep players active, listening and making friends.  Soccer camps for ages 3-5 often offer mini sessions that are semi-structured adventures designed to engage short attention spans.
  • Ages 6-9: For elementary school-aged children, soccer camps often divide players up by age and ability to maximize instruction. While some very advanced players can start to play at a competitive level, most soccer camps for ages 6-9 years old “focus on team building, social skills, and technical skill development. The emphasis of the soccer camp is to help our young players foster a love of the game,” according to the AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization).
  • Ages 10-13: For motivated players, this is the age where soccer development can be taken to the next level at camps such as the USF Junior Premier Soccer Camp. Developing technique, speed of play and simulated game situations are all a priority. 
  • Ages 14+: High school soccer players can have a wide range of skill and motivation – ranging from recreational to student athletes eyeing a college soccer scholarship.

Types of Soccer Camps

There are many different soccer camps available this summer to fit your schedule and child’s goals. AYSO offers week long programs including half-day soccer camps (3hrs), full-day soccer camps (6 hrs, ages 8+) and mini sessions (1.5 hrs). The programs are open to all players and the curriculum is developmentally appropriate for any skill level. Other popular half-day and full-day soccer camps include USF Youth Academy Soccer Camp (K-5th), Challenger Soccer Camps (multiple camps ages 3-16), Coach Ken Soccer Academy (ages 4-12) and Stanford Soccer Camps (ages 4-10).

Specialized night training programs for intermediate to advanced soccer players aged 15-21 are available through San Francisco Soccer Camp. The night training can be very convenient if your high school player has a summer job lined up. Additionally, some travel leagues may encourage team camps, residential overnight camps or college ID soccer camps. 

Specialty Soccer Camps

There are also specialty programs such as goalkeeper camps or striker soccer clinics. These camps are focused on developing specific skills related to your child’s preferred playing position.

What to Bring to Soccer Camp

There are a few items that you will definitely want to pack with your child for soccer camp. 

  • Soccer gear: Cleats, Shin Guards and a Ball (optional). Sneakers can work too.  *Tip: If you send a soccer ball, be sure to label it with your child’s name. 
  • Water bottle: Your child will be working up a sweat!
  • Packed Lunch and/or Snacks: Keep in mind that most camps will not have a refrigerator. 
  • Sunscreen: Campers could be outside in the sun for several hours. 

Benefits Beyond the Field

Soccer can develop into a fun, lifetime participation sport where children can learn the value of teamwork, leadership, communication and respect.

“Active kids grow in self-confidence. They have the opportunity to develop an open mindset. They learn conflict resolution skills. They learn how to both cooperate and compete with others. They learn punctuality and responsibility. They learn how to contribute to a group. They learn communication skills and how to lead. They learn how to set and achieve goals toward self-improvement. The possible life skills, as well as sport skills, that an active soccer player could learn and benefit from is a long list,” said Sam Snow, US Youth Soccer Director of Coaching.

Regardless of your child’s age or skill level, there is a soccer camp that is the right fit for your family. You can find all these Bay Area soccer camps on ActivityHero or download our iPhone app. Early bird summer camp discounts could save parents up to $200 a week.


Soccer for Pre-K, Kids, and Teens: A Parents’ Guide

Never played soccer? Here, a former soccer pro, seasoned coach, and current soccer camp owner offers expert insights to help parents new to the game.

By Laura Quaglio

Coach Ken with Soccer Team
Coach Ken Mburu with one of his soccer teams in California

If your child is among those clamoring to dribble a bright-colored orb using only their feet, they’re one of several million American kids who are interested in soccer. In fact, the US Youth Soccer’s National Tournament Database reports that its organization alone registered more than 3 million soccer-playing kids in 2014. And that’s just one of the three largest youth soccer organizations in the United States. The other two are American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), which is a parent-run program with a more recreational and less competitive focus, and the U.S. Soccer Federation, which is the most competitive group. (US Youth Soccer falls somewhere in the middle in terms of competitiveness.)

For parents who never played the game, the different types of soccer camps, clinics, classes, teams, and leagues may seem shrouded in mystery. And the more we Google information on the sport, the more confusing things can become since the number of teammates and the rules of game play are different for different age levels.

To help clear the confusion, ActivityHero recently talked to Ken Mburu, who has been coaching soccer for young kids since 2003 and founded Coach Ken Soccer Academy in 2009. (Coach Ken played club and college soccer in Kenya, and he holds a diploma from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Coaching Academy.) Today, Coach Ken Soccer Academy offers soccer classes, camps, and private instruction for ages preschool through adult at locations in Mountain View, Los Altos, Palo Alto, and Menlo Park.

Here, Coach Ken shares an overview of the different levels of soccer and what to look for in a soccer program.

toddler trying out soccer
Soccer for Preschoolers

Find soccer camps & classes for preschoolers >>

Coach Ken’s curriculum starts with kids as young as 3.5 years old. In his experience, kids who are younger than this will do better in a program that involves the mother or father. At the preschool level, Coach Ken lets each child have their own ball and ensures they will score goals very often. There’s no goalie, and if a child loses control of their ball or kicks it too far, the coach will quickly toss them an extra so they can keep playing.

Coach Ken doesn’t have kids going head-to-head until they are ready, which varies for different kids. He then has them play “1 v. 1,” which pits one player against another child or a coach. “If you haven’t prepared little kids and the ball gets stolen, they’ll cry or give up,” he says. “That’s the last thing you want.”

What Coach Ken says to look for:

A low kid-to-coach ratio. For 4-year-olds, look for 1 coach working with no more than 8 kids at a time. (There may be 40 kids in a lesson, he says, but they should be divided up among 5 coaches.)
A curriculum that ties drills to game play. It’s not enough for coaches to create drills that are fun. It’s also important for coaches to educate kids on how those games relate to a real soccer game. “People love what they’re good at, and if you’re good at something, you almost always love it. It’s a cycle,” he says. “The best way to make sure kids are having fun is to get them better.” Ultimately, kids won’t become better at soccer unless they learn specific skills that they will use when they later engage in a soccer game.

A focus on footwork. “Kids have got to be comfortable maneuvering the ball,” says Coach Ken. “That’s the main skill of soccer. We only get better by touching the ball.” Little touches, not big kicks, are the key to soccer success. One of the biggest problems little kids face is that they tend to boot the ball as far as possible, as they would in kickball. In soccer, though, it’s important to keep control of the ball, so kids need to learn to keep the ball close using little taps. Kids should also learn a variety of different ways to control the ball, using different parts of the foot to tap it. At this age, they should not be kicking with their toe because it’s very difficult to control the ball that way.

Use of correct soccer terminology. “The person who is harder to teach is not someone who knows nothing,” says Coach Ken, “but someone who has learned something wrong.” Your child will do better as they move up within the soccer system if they have a good foundation that includes using the correct terms. They should learn the names for different parts of the foot (inside foot, outside foot, shoelaces, etc.) and different soccer skills (pull back or drag back, throw-in, etc.).

Soccer for Ages 4 and 5 (U-6)

Find soccer camps & classes for ages 4 & 5 >>

At this level, kids will move from playing 1 v. 1 (one player versus another) to playing some real soccer matches. “They don’t have to follow all the rules,” says Coach Ken. “At that age, I carry extra balls and throw in another ball when one is kicked out of bounds.” Kids in this group have a very short attention span, he explains, so coaches have to keep the ball and the game moving quickly. “If you don’t, soon they will be chasing butterflies,” he says.

Also teams begin to be grouped by age, with the kids on each team being “under” the number listed. So kids in U-6 must be “under” age 6, usually for the majority of the season. (Different leagues have different cutoffs regarding birthdays, but the US Soccer Federation has now standardized it to calendar year.)

What Coach Ken says to look for:

Kids being grouped by ability. Some kids naturally pick up the game more quickly and easily than others. Coaches should begin grouping kids based on their abilities —beginners together, medium-level players together, and so on. This is important because it’s very frustrating for beginner kids to face an advanced player who is always stealing the ball. And this scenario won’t help the better players develop their skills either. “The kids need to be in groups where they are challenged accordingly,” says Coach Ken.

Some mini games. Coach Ken tries to do 3 v. 3, 4 v. 4, and 5 v. 5 at this age. If there are more players than that, the field becomes too crowded and chaotic.

No goalies. Coach Ken says goalies should not be used until around age 8 or 9. “Younger kids don’t have the body control yet,” he explains. That means that goalkeepers could easily get kicked and injured. To practice shooting, Coach Ken does drills where the players stand as many feet away from the goal as their age, then kick into the goal. (So if they are 5 years old, they would stand 5 feet away.) Sometimes a child will play goalkeeper in that setting, but the shooters never come into the cordoned-off goalie’s zone.

Lots of use of the feet, but no use of the hands. Kids in this age group are encouraged to touch the ball as much as possible with their feet and not use their hands. This is true even for those who want to be goalkeepers in the future. “When I got my coaching diploma, I learned that professional goalkeepers touch the ball 7 times more with their feet than with their hands,” says Coach Ken. “So even a goalkeeper has to be very good with their feet.”

Soccer for U-7 and U-8

Find soccer camps & classes for ages 6 & 7 >>

Starting at this age, kids who have been playing soccer since age 4 are already trying out for competitive teams, according to Coach Ken. Though he and many other coaches wish such tryouts didn’t begin until age 8, he realizes that clubs are forming teams at younger and younger ages – mainly because parents request it. Moms and dads want to ensure that their kids become part of a team early on so they will “grow up” with their teammates and not be left out socially or during game play.

In this age group, teams may play each other 4 v. 4 without a goalkeeper. Coaches will likely be watching from the sidelines. They also may serve as referees, with an actual ref being introduced for kids playing U-8 soccer.

Games will be broken into short time periods, such as four 8-minute quarters at U-6 and U-7 and four 10-minute quarters for U-8. Players won’t necessarily play positions at this point, but they should be getting a chance to touch the ball and dribble it. Games may be scored and reported, depending on the league.

At this level, rule enforcement will be more lenient, though. For instance, when a ball goes out of bounds, kids will kick it in or throw it in. In later years, throw-ins will be more regulated, with both feet needing to remain planted when the ball is thrown.

What Coach Ken says to look for:

Coaches who are willing to let your kids try other activities. Coach Ken advises that no matter what option you choose (competitive team or rec league), encourage your child to try other activities too. “When you commit to one sport this early, I think you are denying the child the chance to experience other things in life, and I think it’s a big disadvantage,” says Coach Ken. He adds that kids who start playing competitively at age 5 might burn out by age 15 since they have been going full-tilt for a decade already.

One season, one sport. “There are four seasons of soccer,” says Coach Ken. “I commend parents who allow their children to do a different sport each season, and at most two seasons for the one sport their child really likes.” This approach helps kids avoid burnout and leaves them time for other things like scouting, homework, and free-play with friends.

Time for unsupervised soccer play. Coach Ken recommends looking for a program that is not overly scheduled. “You want kids to be in a program where they are not being too controlled,” he says. “The best thing you can do is let the kids play in the park by themselves with their friends.” When kids aren’t being guided by parents and coaches, he explains, they have the freedom to become more creative in their game play. This is important because during a soccer game the coach is on the sidelines and can’t tell players every little thing they need to do. Kids need to learn to think for themselves and make quick decisions. If your soccer program doesn’t make time for free play, arrange for teammates to get together during off-hours so they can have a fun game without adult intervention.

soccer player
Soccer for U-9 and U-10

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This is the age group where soccer practice and games really begin to change, says Coach Ken. For one thing, there will be more players in the games. It might be 6 v. 6, including goalkeepers, and referees will be used. Some leagues play 7 v. 7 at U-10. Games will likely consist of two 25-minute “halfs” and the kids will use a larger soccer ball (size 4, not size 3).

Additional rules will be introduced. For instance, referees will penalize kids who are “offsides,” which occurs when they are on the offense and place themselves between all of the defenders and the goalkeeper. (The upshot: An offensive player can’t hang out by the goal waiting for a pass.) At this level, the refs might only penalize kids who are blatantly offsides, rather than those who are just slightly ahead of the defenders.

If you’re interested in what the rules are for your child’s team and age group, ask the coach to explain them to you or to direct you to league materials that can do so.

Note: Recreational (rec) leagues may not exist for every age group, depending on the level of interest in your geographical area. For instance, teams might be U-8, U-10, and U-12, if there aren’t enough kids to also fill the U-9 and U-11 slots.

Tween girls playing soccer
Soccer for U-11, U-12, and U-13

Find soccer camps & classes for ages 10–12 >>

According to Coach Ken, the main change at this level, U-13 especially, is that kids start playing by FIFA standards. FIFA is the abbreviation for Fédération Internationale de Football Association, which is the international governing body for the sport of soccer, aka “football” in other countries.

Kids will play 9 v. 9 (at U-11 and U-12) and 11 v. 11 at U-13. Each game half will be slightly longer than before, lasting a full 30 minutes. Rules will be more stringently enforced. For instance, offside play (even if it’s just by a few inches) will be called out by refs, and when kids throw in the ball from the sideline, they’d better keep both feet planted until the ball leaves their hands! At U-13, kids will switch from a size 4 soccer ball to a size 5.

Again, the coach can help clear up any confusion you may have, but your child should be old enough to explain the rules to you.

Also important at this age: Soccer clubs will be more keen in their separation of players based on ability, grouping them into A, B, and C teams (and so on, depending on the number of kids in each age group). The best players will start honing their skills so they might one day play on the U.S. National Team. Elite players start being recruited by national soccer talent development groups such as the Olympic Development Program, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (for boys) and the Elite Clubs National League (for girls). In 2017, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy also plans to launch a program for girls. Parents who have a child on the A team might want to inquire about these organizations.

If your child loves the game, they have the talent, and you really want them to make the A team, you may want to consider enrolling them in private lessons at this point. However, Coach Ken says parents should be sure not to show disappointment if the child doesn’t make the A team … or if they were on the A team one year and are on the B team the next. There are great variations in how each player develops. Some develop early … others may hit a seasonal snag in development due to a factor outside of soccer, such as teenage issues, an injury, a change in coach or players, etc., and they may need more time to bloom or rediscover their form.

Soccer for U-14 through U-18

Find soccer camps & classes for ages 13–17 >>

As with U-13, kids will play 11 v. 11 (including the goalkeeper) and will play with a size 5 ball. Halves will be 30 minutes each, and there may be 2 or 3 referees on the field after kids progress beyond the U-14 level.

Coach Ken says that kids in this group may have been playing for 7 or more years. “At the beginning of each season, ask your teen, ‘Do you want to do it?’” says Coach Ken. “The kid should be deciding, not the parent.” He adds that you’ll likely have a gut feeling if your child isn’t interested anymore. “If Johnny or Jenny isn’t excited every single day or is not trying their hardest, stop wasting their time and let them do something they actually enjoy,” he advises. “Do not be adamant that your kid has to be a soccer player.”

One last secret: If your child does want to keep playing, Coach Ken advises that parents try not to be too invested in their success. “I’ve been coaching for more than 10 years, and the kids who I have seen go farthest in soccer are the kids whose parents don’t seem too eager to show like they care too much about their kid playing,” he asserts. Coach Ken shares the story of one mom whose son was doing so well during a practice that Coach Ken ran over to talk to her about “Johnny’s” progress. Her response? “She said, ‘Stop spoiling my nap!’” he laughs. “That boy was a really good soccer player,” he adds. “Those are the kids who go far in soccer. The ones who are doing it for themselves.”


What Your Child’s Soccer Coach Wishes You Knew

What should you shout from the sidelines during games? See what soccer coaches really think — and other tips they wish parents knew.

By Katherine Teel

Maybe you cheer from the sidelines, letting your child know how much you support her. Or maybe you coach from the sidelines, shouting things like “Take it up the outside!” or “Why’d you stop?!” Or maybe you drop off your child and run errands. As parents, we want to “get it right” as often as possible, but with many things in parenting, there’s no real rule book. That’s why we asked long-time coaching couple Lew and Ruth Ann West for some advice on how to encourage your kids, how to support the coaches, and what behaviors they never want to see again!

The Wests know whereof they speak: They’ve been on both sides of the field — as both coaches and soccer parents. For the past 15 years, they’ve coached co-ed recreational soccer teams ranging in age from 4 to 16. And two of their daughters are soccer players: Their middle child was skilled enough to receive college scholarship offers, while their petite, dimpled 11-year-old daughter tears up the field like a beast as part of the Wests’ current team. To be sure, these coach/parents have carefully considered what they think works best, and one look at their team records over the years tends to support their theories.

Ready for a little coaching of your own? Take a deep breath, and read on to see if it might be time to rethink a few of the things you’re doing at your child’s practices and games.

Find a list of soccer classes, clinics & camps near you > >

Sometimes It’s Good to Stick Your Nose (or Foot) In

It’s hard for parents to know how involved to be with their kids. If you sit and watch every practice, you might be helicoptering, but if you leave you might be abandoning them. “We like to have parents there,” says Ruth Ann, “because when the parents stay, they have opportunities to engage with the kids during practice.” For instance, when the team is one person short, a parent can sub in during a two-person drill or participate in a scrimmage as a player or referee.

Lew also likes the parents to see all of the effort the players put into practice time. “Kids these days work incredibly hard at the things they care about,” he says, “and I like for parents to see that.”

Yell All You Want … But You’re Not the Coach

“We love when the parents are positive and cheer from the sidelines,” Ruth Ann says. Her coaching style reflects that enthusiasm — she’s loud and laughs a lot, and every shout is a yell of of encouragement. “Definitely,” agrees Lew. “But there’s a difference between yelling encouragement and coaching from the stands. Sometimes parents contradict what the coaches are telling the players.” Other types of parent participation the Wests could do without: Criticizing the ref, yelling negatives (“Who were you passing to!?”), and working themselves up over a bad call. In general, if you feel your blood starting to boil, it’s probably time to take a lap — or a deep breath.

Parents behavior on the sidelines

The Kids Can’t Hear You Anyway …

Just ask your child, if you don’t believe it: The reality is that most of the time, those players can’t hear you — no matter what you shout. They are running fast, breathing hard, and battling over an ever-moving orb. The last thing they have time for is to stop and listen to parental advice.

But the Other Adults Sure Can!

“The worst part about rude or aggressive shouting is that it ruins the game for the other families,” Ruth Ann cautions. “Your child probably doesn’t know what you said, but the parents you have to sit near at next week’s game certainly do.” Also keep this in mind: Some of those parents may be recording the game on video (and audio) — including your shouts and conversations. Make sure what you say is worthy of being preserved for posterity.

A Good Soccer Coach Isn’t Necessarily Out to Win

As soccer parents, the Wests have dealt with their share of other coaches, which has helped inform their approach today. “A good coach takes a group of kids and helps them become a team,” Ruth Ann says. They do this, she explains, by helping children create a work ethic that includes hard work and team building, and at the same time, they make the experience fun.

“The difference between a good coach and a bad one is the focus that coach has,” Lew adds. “By focus, I mean, is their only goal to win, or to teach the love of the game and teamwork?” At heart, we all know that developing young minds and characters is more important than winning — and it’s a wonderful fringe benefit of being involved in a team sport.

How Does Your Child’s Soccer Program Measure Up?

Whether you’re interested in getting your child started in soccer — or maybe just finding a team that’s a better fit — ActivityHero can help. If you don’t love your coach’s style or the emotions it brings out in you and your child, don’t be afraid to take a look at what else is out there. And if your child is looking for a great team sport to try, there’s no time like the present.

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Football Ice Skating Marching Band Soccer

7 Sneaky Ways to Stay Warm at Fall Games

Autumn sports, color guard, cheering, and marching band activities never seem to end before the weather turns cold! Stay cozy all season with these clever tips.

By Laura Quaglio

people watching the game in 1-person viewing tents
Under The Weather Tents

You want to support your kids until the playoffs are done … but, baby, if you live in certain sections of the U.S., it’s cold outside! Maybe you’ve already gotten the puffy jacket, winter boots, and team knit cap. What else can you do to keep out the chill? Plenty! Here are a few options you may not have tried yet. They range from free to DIY to a tad pricey, but they all can help get the job done. Let us know which ones you try — and love — this season. Or, better yet, share some of your best ideas in the comments. Give us a W-A-R-M! Go, Team!

Take a Tip from Red Riding Hood

Hood Scarf by EricaPennieLayne on Etsy

No doubt about it: Hoods are both cute and cozy. And when it comes to keeping in body heat during a late-season match, a hood and scarf is a must-have combo for soccer moms. We found this item — billed as a Winter Hood Scarf — on Etsy. It was created by Erica Pennie Layne, who counts herself as among the “Canadian winter warriors; a woman on the constant move in a land of ice and snow.” If it’s warm enough for her to wear when braving Canadian temps, it’s bound to keep you cozy during the playoffs. Though this design is sold out, you’ll find plenty of similar products to purchase or make yourself, simply by searching the web.


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Cuddle Some Homemade Hand Warmers

Find instructions on

If your fingers are the first thing to get chilled, hand warmers can make a huge difference in your ability to enjoy the big game. To save money – and put your craft skills to good use – consider making your own version, using a little leftover fabric and some uncooked rice. Complete instructions are available on As a bonus, their creator says they can be tossed in the freezer and used as cool packs for, say, a bump or bruise.


Don’t Let the Winds Chill Your Wrists

Here’s a DIY project that’s great for fall and winter: wrist warmers made from a pair of socks. You can find complete instructions on, but the concept is simple. You basically cut off the toe, cut a thumb-hole in the heel, and (if you like) finish off the top with a nice cuff. If you’re likely to conceal the whole thing within coat sleeves and under a pair of mittens, you can skip the finishing work. These also are perfect for keeping wrists snow-free if you’re in a climate that allows for shoveling and snowman construction.


Treat Your Seat to Some Heat

Sunbeam Heat-to-Go Seat Warmer

Ugh — those cold, metal stadium seats! Sometimes even a blanket isn’t enough to keep your bottom from feeling the chill when you watch your kids play. This Sunbeam Heat-to-Go Portable Warming Stadium Seat offers you 2 hours of comfort and warmth, thanks to two reusable gel packs (that you warm up in hot water), a foam cushion, and a weather-resistant cover. It even has a carrying handle, so it’s easy to tote to the stadium, on a camping trip, or on a winter horse-and-buggy ride.


Raise Your Temp in a Tiny Tent

people watching the game in 1-person viewing tents
Under The Weather Tents

Admittedly, this item makes more sense on the sidelines than in the bleachers. Available in a rainbow of colors, this one-person tent from is water- and wind-resistant, weighs just 7.5 pounds, and will keep your surroundings up to 30 degrees warmer than the air outside. It even has an SPF of 50, so you can avoid pesky (and sometimes unexpected) autumn or winter sunburns. Similar tents are available in an XL size and a two-person model.


Create a Spectator “Uniform”

You’d never let your kids on the field without the proper gear. It’s time to think of yourself as one of the team, and invest your own uniform of sorts—one that will keep you toasty so you can cheer for the team without your teeth chattering. Insulating underclothes and outerwear can help, but if you live in a really cold region, check out the wide array of high-tech togs that use portable batteries to radiate heat. Sporting goods stores and websites offer mittens, gloves, jackets, vests, socks, boots, insoles, pants and more. Another tip: Store an inexpensive rain poncho in your coat pocket for the entire season; then, when there’s an unexpected rain shower, you can stay dry, which will help keep you warmer too.

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Warm Up by the Hot Dogs

Here’s a tip that won’t cost you a dime — and it might score you some points with your kid’s coach or marching band director: Work in the concession stand or hot dog truck during the coldest games of the season! This strategy will keep you warmer since the walls will buffer those late-autumn and early-winter winds. And if you’re actually serving warm foods or standing near the grill, you may even get toasty enough to take off one of your coats.


Looking for Still Another Way to Warm Up?

Consider becoming a coach or assistant to your child’s team! As you’ve probably noticed, adults in these roles rarely sit down, and the more you’re up and moving, the warmer you will be. Wondering if this might be a good option for you? Check out our exclusive blog on the topic: Want to Coach Kids? 4 Tips to Make It Work for Your Family.

Soccer Sports

For Kids Who Love Soccer: 9 Books, Movies, Shows & Apps

After the cleats come off, your soccer-playing kids can keep their head in the game with these expert-approved watchables, readables, and soccer apps.

By the Kids’ Media Experts at SmartFeed

With soccer a worldwide phenomenon, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Lionel Messi, and Neymar aren’t just some of the most well-known stars in women’s and men’s soccer … they are also heroes to young athletes. Kids love books, apps, movies, and TV shows that feature relatable heroes too: particularly heroes who love the same things they do and who face some of the same challenges, both on the field and on the sidelines.

The following soccer-themed games and stories range from soccer simulation apps for grade schoolers to more mature novels that reinforce the importance of perseverance and teamwork. All have been rated by SmartFeed’s media experts and critics based upon their inclusion of positive role models and messages, and their avoidance of negative themes, foul language, and violence.

Soccer Books for Kids

Ellie McDoodles DiariesThe Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Most Valuable Player
By Ruth McNally Barshaw
Ages 7+
Having to choose between a soccer tournament and an academic competition is a tough dilemma for Ellie McDoodle. Her teamwork, dedication, and friendship help her succeed at both!



By Kwame Alexander
Ages 10+
A soccer-obsessed middle schooler copes with his parents’ divorce, a bully, and typical school struggles in this unique novel, composed entirely in verse. (Think: Hamilton with shin guards.) It also offers its share of heart-warming scenes, including those featuring friendship and young love. Yes, it discusses serious issues; however, this book is also fun, energetic, and relatable to teens. It’s a sequel to the Newberry-winning novel The Crossover.


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Soccer Game Apps for Kids

Soccer Kick 2Soccer Kick 2
Ages 6+
This simple app is a fun diversion for younger soccer fans.



Score! HeroScore! Hero
Ages 9+
This soccer simulation game has great graphics and easy-to-learn swipe-based play. Be aware there are in-app purchases available, as well as ads.



Soccer Movies for Kids

Air BudAir Bud: World Pup
Ages 5+
The sports-loving golden retriever Buddy is back, this time starring on the soccer field.




Shaolin SoccerShaolin Soccer
Ages 8+
This enjoyable, funny film offers a martial arts and soccer mashup for kids (or families) who get a kick out of both of these sports. Underdogs rule!




Ages 13+
Based on a true story, this movie shares the story of a girl who shows grit and determination as she fights to compete on a boys-only soccer team. Gracie rebels and faces down discrimination in this thought-provoking soccer movie.


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Soccer TV Shows for Kids

The KicksThe Kicks
Ages 6+
This Amazon TV series follows Devin as she adjusts to life in a new state, new school, and new soccer team. This self-proclaimed “Soccer Beast” teen sets out to prove her worth as a player and a leader on her new team.




Inazuma Eleven
Ages 8+
Adapted from a video game, Inazuma Eleven features a group of misfits who join together to form a soccer team. In the process, they learn to work together at the game they all love.




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Soccer Sports

Kidz Love Soccer: A Non-Competitive Approach

Discover a kids soccer program with a different philosophy. Kidz Love Soccer focuses on teaching the fundamentals with fun, not competition!

kidz_love_soccerThere’s a good chance that Kidz Love Soccer is offering camps and classes near you – they now have programs in more than 160 communities in California, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

And they’re worth looking for — they have a completely different approach from typical league-based soccer programs! Kidz Love Soccer focuses on teaching the fundamentals of soccer in a way that improves skills, instills confidence, and teaches sportsmanship and respect for others.

Kidz Love Soccer has developmentally friendly programs ranging from parent-child classes starting at age 2 … right up to weekly classes for 10- to 12-year-olds that maintain the thrill of match play without the intense competition and time commitment required in competitive leagues. In between are Tot-Soccer, Pre-Soccer, and Soccer classes for younger grade-schoolers. All abilities are welcome, and kids are nurtured, built up, and developed as athletes — all within a positive framework.

The fun of soccer without the drama of a league. Look for locations near you!

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Baseball Basketball Cheerleading Football Soccer Sports

Want to Coach Kids? 4 Tips to Make It Work for Your Family

Before you pick up the coach’s whistle, you might want to consider these issues that parent-coaches and their children might face throughout the season.

By ActivityHero Staff

Mom Coaching Basketball

Parents love to be involved in their kids’ lives and coach their kids’ sports. It’s rewarding to watch your son or daughter become a “pro” thanks to your excellent know-how of their favorite game. It’s also great to have shared experiences and interests with your kids, which can spur dinnertime conversations and strengthen your family bonds.

Are you considering taking on the role of parent-coach? We talked to some parents who have coached their kids to find out what they suggest you consider before signing up. Here, the top questions they recommend you answer.

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1. Does Your Child Want You to Coach?

Before you decide whether coaching the annual Y-Ball team fits your schedule, see if it fits theirs. Sit down with your son or daughter and ask them if they feel comfortable with you playing the role of coach. Some will be happy with the idea, but others may be worried about being judged by other players or not living up to your expectations. Before the season begins, sit down and make a list of pros and cons so you can see what your child is truly worried (or pleased) about. Also, it may be worthwhile to evaluate your intentions. Will you be more focused on winning or creating learning opportunities? Will a coach role help or hurt the current relationship with your child? These answers are not to be overlooked.

2. How Will You Handle Other Parents’ Critiques?

There is nothing worse than watching your son’s or daughter’s basketball game only to see them in for a total of 5 minutes. This is why parent-coaches always try and distribute playing time equally. The most obvious line of favoritism is having your child in the game for most of the game. It will be up to you to judge, based on their skills and the age level of play, whether or not the most skilled players should receive the most playing time. Always keep in mind the parents came to see their kid in the game.

However, another risk of parent-coaching is underplaying your child. Doug Skinner, a parent from Los Altos, Calif., coached his two boys in soccer, baseball, and basketball until they reached high school. When asked why he decided to coach he replied, “I did not want an overbearing, hot-headed dad yelling at his kids like I had seen in the years before.” We then asked him what he thought of the experience and if there is anything he might have changed. He replied, “I wish I would have played my kids more. I was always worried about parents getting mad at me for over playing my sons. My kids always tended to slip to the back of my mind because I was worried other parents were not happy with the amount of playing time their child received.”

If you do decide to coach, be sure to create a system that allows you to be fair to your kids as well as the others on the team.

3. Can You Leave Practice on the Field (or Court)?

If your child couldn’t make a shot at practice, you might be tempted to go into “after hours” with them to work on some technique. This is not a bad thing, but chances are if they had a bad day at practice, they are already discouraged. If you weren’t front-and-center for their slip-up, you would probably let them go about their evening unimpeded.

Bottom line: Make sure you can turn off the “coach” role as soon as you get home so you can provide an environment where your kids can tell you how they are feeling and you can be there for them. If you do want to work in some extra skill-building, don’t push extending practice in the driveway before you even head in the house. Instead, have a little discussion and see if you can’t get them to ask for some pointers, or to play a friendly game of horse.

4. Will Your Child Still Get Your Attention?

Parent-coaches tend to get very excited when they see the other members of the team improving throughout the season. All too often they forget to monitor their own child’s progress. Make sure you track every player’s improvements and give EVERY PLAYER praise for working hard to learn the game. Not only does on-court praise increase the trust and bond between you and that child, it is also when the true joy of coaching becomes a healthy addiction. So be sure to share some positive words with your kids in front of the team, as well as at home.

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