10 ways to get your 2 year old to love soccer

2 year old loving soccerAlmost 2 Years Old

You want to get your 2 year old to love soccer, but you're not sure how.  To insure you don't over do it, there are few steps you can take.

Youth soccer can get too complicated and even preschool aged kids can get get burned out from the game of soccer if you're not careful. These tips will help you have your 2 year old child experience a great introduction to soccer.

Introducing kids to soccer the wrong way can ruin their desire to play the world's #1 sport. 

Two year old children will often be reluctant to participate in any new activity. That includes soccer. It's a shame that many children never get to benefit from playing soccer because it wasn't introduced to them the right way. This post will give you the 10 ways to get your child to love soccer. Okay let's dive in.

1. make Soccer Simple

Use very simple soccer activities and games. Complex games cause confusion. The easier it is for a 2 year old to understand the task at hand and have early success the more fun they'll have doing it. Here's a list of fun, creative soccer games for two year olds that you can adapt to your child's abilities.

Soccer danceDoing the soccer dance!

While certain basic skills may seem boring for us to repeat as adults, kids love familiarity. For example, we started our organized 2 year old soccer session with "The Soccer Dance". 

The soccer dance was a simple coordination and balance exercise. It's gently putting one foot on top of the ball and then switching to the other foot.

You start by showing them and telling them what to do-twice! To make it more engaging you can teach numbers too. Count to ten as you change each foot, going very slowly at first.

2. Build anticipation

The best way to get a child excited about playing soccer is to build excitement by setting the stage with a few leading questions or statements geared toward building anticipation.

Although the vocabulary of 2 year old children isn't deeply developed, kids can pick up meaning from facial expressions, body language, and the tone of your voice. Your excitement and enthusiasm will be contagious. 

For example: "Do you want to have fun?" or "Who want to play a fun game?" are great anticipation builders.

3. Give them proper space

Give the young soccer players plenty of physical space to run.  Allow them to feel the freedom of running on the soccer field. Kids love the feel of the grass under their feet as they run. Open space is energizing, but too big of a space can be intimidating.

Discs as soccer field borderAdjust the size of the field by using colored discs for the borders.

Give them plenty of physical space to run.  Allow them to feel the freedom of running on the soccer field. Kids love the feel of the grass under their feet as they run. Open space is energizing, but too big of a space can be intimidating.

It's one of those situations where you can adjust the size of the soccer field by moving the borders.

SUGGESTED FIELD SIZE FOR 2 YEAR OLDS: Start with a small field. 10 yards by 20 yards is plenty big enough for a small group of 6 to 8 two year old soccer players. For a smaller group, or a single player 5 yards by 10 yards is big enough.

4. Provide Encouragement

A big part of making youth soccer a fun experience for 2 year olds is receiving praise. That includes verbal and physical praise. The High Five is an easy understood and implemented way of giving encouragement.

Encouragement builds their confidence to attempt to learn new skills. You can also teach the kids simple soccer moves that are easy to learn and easy to teach.

High FiveHigh Fives and clapping are both universal examples of encouragement.

Positive statements work well. "Great job! Good try!  Wow, you can run so fast!  I love how hard you're trying! There are also physical signs of giving encouragement. fist pumps, clapping and jumping up and down are a great way to show approval.

5. Use Colors and shapes

Two year old children love bright colors. It's why all the toy makers use bright colors when they make all of the playthings. Whether it's the discs, the cones, the balls, or anything else you use, the fun level goes up when you have bright colors involved.

2 year old playing with soccer ballTwo years olds like the bright colors of soccer equipment

Don't get frustrated if the kids pay a little too much attention to the props. It's quite natural for young children to gravitate to and enjoy exploring the colors and shapes of objects in their world.

6. Add music, songs, or rhythm 

Adding a song or rhythmic chant not only makes it more fun, but it aids in learning a new soccer skill. You're familiar with the song: if you're happy and you know it clap your hands (clap, clap). In Soccer Shots we used that melody, but changed the words as shown below

musical notes
  • "If you want to play soccer stomp your feet, Stomp Stomp!" - Have the kids stomp their feet.
  • "If you want to play soccer stomp your feet, Stomp Stomp!" - Have the kids stomp their feet.
  • "If your legs are here to stay and you really want to play" - Have the kids tap their thighs.
  • "If you want to play soccer stomp your feet, Stomp Stomp!" - Have the kids stomp their feet.

7. Make Soccer secondary 

Two year old kids don't have an interest in becoming a great soccer player at this point in their life, but they do love having successes. They love learning new motor skills. Remember how excited a child is when they first learn to walk?

Soccer is one of the best "organized sports" for 2 year olds because it can be played with the basic motor skills of walking, running and kicking. Those primary activities become "soccer" simply by including a soccer ball in the activities. 

As an example, preschoolers love to chase people and also have a blast getting chased. Add a soccer ball and they are getting great practice at dribbling toward and away from a moving object (you).

8. Adjust to the age and skill of the kids

Two year old children usually haven't been walking for that long of a time and some have just learned how to run. All kids pick up different abilities when it comes to developing gross motor skills, running, maintaining balance, and kicking.

There are plenty of great soccer games for 2 year olds that you can try, but should adjust if necessary. Generally kids in the 2 to 3 year old range are just beginning to learn how to track the path of a moving ball.

Use this table of ages and motor skills as a guideline, but you must adjust the activity for the age and skill level. Remember that ALL kids develop different skills at different rates.

12 to 15 Months Just beginning to walk, without falling on smooth surfaces. Communication skills are limited.
16-20 Months Ability to walk on uneven surfaces. Basic running usually starts.
2 years Kids can now do basic jumping. Also, they begin to track the path of a moving ball.
2 to 3 year olds Faster running is now possible and kicking the ball a more pronounced distance. Vocabulary starts to explode.

9. Score a goal at every practice

Let's face it! Eventually the primary aim of every soccer game is to score goals. Whether it's a real soccer match or any creative imaginary game that involves a soccer ball, children teens and adults should get the satisfaction of scoring a goal.

Having a 2 year old successfully kick the ball into the net at least several times during a play session is a smart idea. It teaches them the main aim of soccer as well as gives them an opportunity to feel successful at one of the activities of soccer.

Although it's true you can use any makeshift target as a goal, there is a significance to the experience of scoring a goal into an actual soccer net.

10. Keep practice short

Whether you're just playing a few fun soccer related games with just your 2 year old in the back yard, You're enjoying having one or two friends join you, or you're running a practice for an organized town soccer program, keep it short.

Games should be short, lasting 5 minutes or so. Overall practice session should be 20-30 minutes long, at the most, for 2 year old children.

11. Build Interest In Soccer With Books

kids soccer bookKids Soccer Book

Unlike the other 10 ideas for sparking your toddler's interest in soccer, you can increase your child's enthusiasm for soccer with kids soccer books. Two year old children love to be read to.

Why not inspire them with a colorfully illustrated storybook telling an entertaining tale centered around kids playing soccer. There are so many fun and educational books about youth soccer. Here's my complete guide to kids soccer books.

final thoughts on making soccer fun for two year olds

Soccer is a great first sport that works well for two year olds if it's done right. If you want to start teaching the concept of a real soccer game, scrimmages should be done like all the other creative games with each child having their own properly sized soccer ball.

Keep it fun. Keep it light. Keep it fast paced.

Coach Bruce Signature

Soccer coach Bruce Lovelace started playing soccer in 1974 when, as a young boy, he constructed his own makeshift soccer goal. He played in high school, then in college and beyond. He started to coach his own children in the 1990s and then ran a Soccer Shots franchise for 12 years. Now, Coach Bruce publishes the soccer-for-kids.com website.  Find out more about youth soccer coach Bruce Lovelace  and what inspires this website.

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