Could Soccer be the Best Team Sport for Kids?
By Joe Ulm
All things considered, I think soccer is one of the top team sports for kids and possibly, the best team sport. I’m biased, of course, but I think the case for soccer is pretty strong. However, before we get into all that, let’s establish a few things, first…
- This article is meant to be fun and maybe even generate a little banter – it’s NOT meant to disparage any sport. In fact, given the different values each sport provides, the best option for many kids might be to play multiple sports.
- No sport is objectively better than another because the “best” sport depends on what the player enjoys.
- By “team sports” I mean:
- Sports where two teams compete against each other (as opposed to both teams competing against an environment).
- Each team has at least four players playing at any one time.
- Individual sports like golf are fantastic – as are non-sport activities such as playing a musical instrument – they’re just outside the scope of this article.
With that said, here’s why soccer could be the best sport for kids:
- Physical advantages are minimized. In comparison to sports like football where size, speed, and strength provide huge advantages (for most positions) – or basketball where height provides an enormous advantage – soccer players just gain less of an advantage from those same abilities. For example, a player with average speed and strength can develop strong ball skills or great defensive technique and be a better player than other players who are faster or stronger. Baseball enjoys this same distinction. Size, speed, and strength are definitely helpful, but there are plenty of good baseball players who don’t have these advantages.
- There are two, distinct, organized levels of play: Recreational and Select, giving kids the option to play at the level that suits them best. They can have a blast playing recreational soccer with friends, or they can play select soccer, learn from licensed coaches, and work to become the next Pulisic.
- Very little equipment is needed. In terms of practicing, players need a ball and flat ground – that’s it. Goals are needed for games, sure, but in comparison to the equipment needed in hockey, baseball, lacrosse, or football, soccer requires very little. If you include all the parks that have basketball courts, basketball is another sport where very little equipment is needed to practice or to play games.
- More players playing at one time. Once players are 12 years old, each team fields 11 players. This means more roster spots and more opportunity for a greater number of players. Football is similarly great in this way – lots of kids playing at one time, larger rosters, etc.
- Everyone is engaged. Like hockey, lacrosse, and basketball, every soccer player is involved when the whistle blows.
- Soccer is a lifetime sport. Much like basketball, soccer can be played well into a person’s adult years AND there is ample opportunity to do so. There are tons of soccer leagues which give people the opportunity to play with other players at similar age and skill levels.
So there you have it – the reasons why soccer could be the best sport for kids. What do you think? Are there other criteria I missed? Is there a team sport I didn’t consider? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Keep it fun and stay United.