These tips are a great start for kids who are just learning how to kick a ball!
You have watched your baby rapidly progress through the stages of development from rolling to crawling, standing to walking, and running to jumping. Before you know it, and probably before you’re quite ready, your kiddo will be ready to be the next soccer star.
You will start to notice her picking up her foot awkwardly to try to kick a ball as she hangs on to the edge of the couch with a death grip. Rapidly, her confidence and skill will progress to the ability to kick that ball across a room so hard that you fear for every lamp and every piece of decor around.
Time to take that new-found skill outside and refine it!
How do you teach your child to kick with good force and direction?
How do you encourage the reciprocal arm and leg motion that look so natural for some kids but maybe just seems awkward for yours?
Let’s talk about how this skill develops.
When Kids Learn How to Kick a Ball
On the typical timeline of development, toddlers are able to lift their foot to contact a ball around the age of 15-16 months.
By 20 months, a child can kick a ball forward 3’ and will gradually improve his ability to kick without the ball deviating from midline in either direction by the age of 24 months.
By 30 months, the distance a child can kick has improved to upwards of 6’ and the opposing arm and leg movements are more evident. In other words, as your child kicks with her right foot, her left arm should swing forward.
By 6 years of age, a child can kick a ball 12’ in the air and she is ready to be the star forward on the soccer team!
Some kids progress through this skill naturally while others, typically those with difficulty using both sides of their body or those with low core strength, need a bit of help to coordinate a good kick.
Teaching Kids How to Kick a Ball
Here are my top tips for helping kids reach their maximum kicking potential.
A child MUST have good balance to be able to kick a ball and, if you think about it, they are only on one leg a good amount of time during a big kick!
A decent kick involves opposite arm and leg in motion at the same time and when that kick is forceful, a child uses her whole body to get that ball to fly. The arm and leg often come across the midline to give that extra momentum!
3 || Hand-eye coordination is key!
Sometimes it is downright frustrating just to get that foot to connect with the ball! Exercises like tapping a balloon with the hands and foot, bouncing and catching a ball, or even just playing a simple game of toss and catch will help with hand-eye (and foot-eye) coordination! Also, try using an under-inflated ball for extra proprioceptive feedback…TRUST ME, it works!
4 || Try working in a small space first
Kids know that when they kick a ball, that ball should go fast and hard toward something. Sometimes it’s important to put a little limitation on that desire and start small. Try putting some tape targets on the garage door and seeing if he can kick to those from increasing distances. Or, try a simple game of soccer passing back and forth between you and your child or your child and her friends. Again, gradually increase the distance as improvement is noted. Visuals like tape lines or cones to make a kicking “lane” also help!
Strength = power and the stronger your child’s core is, the more umpf he can put behind that kick!
6 || Create a positive environment!
Learning new skills is all about the fun! Maybe a ball is too hard at first. Build a block tower, kick it down, repeat! Clap loud, cheer hard! Your feedback will be the most important factor in your child’s perseverance to learn this skill. Try one of these cool balls for kids!
Looking for more ideas for helping kids with learning to kick a ball? Check out these fun soccer drills for kids!