Since I am having withdrawals from the lack of soccer games on TV since the World Cup ended 2 weeks ago, I thought I would highlight my favorite activity 🙂 This post may be slightly biased since I have played soccer for over 20 years, but I have found soccer activities to be very useful during my treatments.
So why soccer?
- Kicking is actually a reflex we have early on in infancy. Which means you can teach a kiddo to kick very early on.
From Life Span Motor Development- By Kathleen Haywood, Nancy Getchell
A study by Thelen, 1985, 1995, Thelan & Fisher, 1983, Thelen, Ridley-Johnson, & Fisher, 1983) found that infant kicking was not spontaneous but was a coordinated activity involving the ankle, knee, and hip joints. Their studies also found that this kicking resembles the positioning and timing of an adult stepping pattern.
- Soccer requires very minimal equipment: 1 round object and something that can hit that object, whether it’s an arm or a leg, which explains why it’s the world’s most popular sport.
- Soccer can be played without anyone if you have a wall, or it can be played with as many people as you like!
- Soccer can also be played with your hands if your legs aren’t available!
Physical Therapy Reasons about why soccer is a great activity:
- You can play soccer while sitting on the floor or in a wheelchair, standing while holding onto an object like a couch, cane, or walker, and then of course, standing in free space.
- Soccer works on standing balance as you run/walk over uneven surfaces.
- Soccer works on balance on 1 leg as you kick a ball with your left or right leg.
- Soccer works on leg/foot/eye coordination as one has to look where they are kicking a ball as they kick it.
- Soccer works on jumping as a kiddo jumps to use their head, chest, or any other part of their body to trap a ball.
- Soccer encourages running and overall exercise as kiddos chase the ball around a soccer field.
Occupational therapy Reasons about why soccer is a great activity:
- Soccer can become a goal directed activity, encouraging a child to figure out how they are going to get the ball in the goal.
- Soccer can be a team building activity, to help a child learn how to work with other kiddos to reach a common goal of scoring.
- Soccer can work on increasing tolerance to various sensory inputs. These include the different textures of the playing surface if the child falls on the ground, hearing people yelling at the same time during a game, different weather conditions if the child plays soccer outside.
- Soccer is a great whole body activity where a child can move their body as much as they want.
- Soccer is a great way to describe a number of body movements/actions/emotions.
Speech Therapy Reasons about why soccer is a great activity:
- Soccer is a great way to interact with one’s peers outside of a school environment.
- Soccer has a number of different activities/directions one can describe.
- Soccer can be used to learn commands and questions- give me the ball, can i have the ball, do you want the ball
- Soccer is a great way to encourage speech while performing a whole body activity versus just sitting in a chair.
Do other therapists have any other reasons why they think soccer is a great activity for their area?
Since soccer is such a great adaptable sport, there are a number of organizations created for individuals with different needs to participate in soccer:
- AYSO’s VIP Program-for various types of special needs
- Power Soccer USA- Soccer for individuals in power chairs
- Indoor Wheelchair Soccer
- Paralympic Football 7 a-side soccer– for athletes with Cerebral palsy
- Paralympic Football 5 a-side soccer– for athletes who are visually impaired
- Global Down Syndrome Foundation Dare to Play Soccer Camp
- USC’s Kicks for Kids– if you are in the Los Angeles Area
- Special Needs Soccer– if you are in New York Port Washington Area
- American Amputee Soccer Program
Categories: Sports Talk