5 soccer moves our kids should be practicing

Every player needs a bag of tricks to be successful on the field. Below we have described 5 tricks our kids can be practicing in the back yard. The aim is to make sure they have the skills to take on and beat a player without solely relying on their pace or strength.

We have included youtube clips so you can see these moves in action.


The Step Over : The player dribbles towards the opponent at pace. The player flicks their foot around and over the ball. The attacking player then pushes the ball with the opposite foot to the side and around the defender. The idea is to momentarily throw the defending player off balance as they react to the flick of the foot so the attacking player can accelerate past them.



The Crujff Turn : The attacking player has their back to a defender in close quarters.The attacking player then swivels to face their opponent while faking they are hitting a pass or shot.While dummying the shot the player then hooks the ball behind their standing leg while accelerating away in the opposite direction.The defender is left flummoxed as they have committed to blocking the shot.



The Drag Back : This utilitarian move while easy to execute is fantastic when faced with a defending player directly in front of you.It can be made either while moving or at a standstill. The goal is to insure you maintain control of the ball while dragging it back towards your own body with the sole of your foot. The defender generally will try to make a stab at the ball. The attacker can accelerate in the opposite direction from whence they came or push the ball to the left or right past the defender.



The Matthews : Made famous by Sir Stanley Matthews “The Wembley Wizard”  this trick involves driving at the defender. Just as the attacker gets in striking distance of the defender they slow the pace of their run and take 2 touches with the inside of their foot as if they are cutting inside. While the defender readjusts the attacker rapidly pushes the wide of the defender with the outside of the same foot with which they made the initial move and accelerates away.



The Nutmeg : If you really want to own a defender then the most satisfying move is to execute the Nutmeg. It can be used in combinations with the other moves. The attacker while looking to make space needs to be aware of how the defender is positioning their feet. If the defender while chasing, trying to stab for the ball or maintaining their balance plants their feet too far apart then the opportunity is available to push the ball between their legs.


Tips for young soccer players from the USA Gold Cup win

The USA secured victory against Jamaica in the Gold Cup final. In the dying minutes of the game Jordan Morris smashed an instinctive drive from inside the eighteen yard box past four defenders and the despairing dive of the Jamaican keeper to clench the win in the 88th minute. Morris’ goal atoned for some poor defending where he was at fault for allowing his defensive target get goal side and score. The final result was 2-1 in the USA’s favor.

Jordan Morris is only 22 years old. He did not let his error impact his game in fact he worked harder and with encouragement from more experienced team mates got the USA back on the front foot. Jordan’s example is what we want to see in our young attackers :

Positive mind set
Both parents and coaches should encourage young players to attempt new moves, be ambitious with shots without fear that they will be castigated. We want our kids to practice step overs, drag backs and cruyff turns. If they fail we want them to know they have our encouragement to get it right the next time or the time after. They can make up for mistakes by working hard to win the ball back.

Two feet
Children will lean towards their dominant kicking foot. We believe that by executing skills such as shooting, passing and tricks with both feet the kids can become ambipedal. Kids will listen so insure they execute the same number of drills on the left and right foot even if it is an ad hoc session in the back garden.

Hunger for the ball
We love to see our kids pressurize the opposition by trying to steal the ball and being strong in the tackle.On the attack young players should be calling for the ball and running into open space without the ball to encourage a pass from a team mate.

Let’s hope Jordan Morris can inspire another victory in September when the USA takes on Costa Rica. Go team USA !!!

Check out the gold cup goals. Watch now

A wonder goal on the road to Russia!

Michael Bradley struck a wonder goal against Mexico at the Estadio Azteca to keep the US men’s national team (USMNT) in the running to qualify for the 2018 world cup hosted by Russia. The United States’ captain intercepted a pass, surged downfield and executed a magical chip to catch the goalkeeper off his line. The final result was a credible 1-1 draw.

The goal showcased what a modern midfielder needs in their arsenal to be successful. It is a fantastic example of how we should be encouraging our kids to play.
Here are some attributes to highlight to our young players:
  • A midfielder can force a play. Bradley used his hard running style and his commitment to pressure the opposition into creating an opportunity. Our kids don’t have to wait for a pass from a team mate to be creative, they can manufacture an offensive play by stealing the ball.
  • All players must play with their head up. While sprinting downfield Bradley was calculating his options, this can only be done if a player is looking up and not at their feet as they dribble.
  • All players must practice their technique. Bradley has been honing his skills since he was a child, this was not the first time he tried a chip. If kids have a wall and a ball they can practice chipping, passing or shooting by themselves. They can experiment with how the ball reacts to different contact points on the foot.
The US has four games left in World Cup qualifying. They must win all four to insure they stay in the automatic qualifying positions. Their next competitive game is on September 1st against Costa Rica.
You can see Captain America’s wonder goal here :

Take a look at how our players are coming along

Player of The Week:

August – Loomis Street
August smiled throughout the whole class, and always loves practicing his skills. In ‘Shark Attack’ he was one of the best defenders and showed some impressive skills in the scrimmage!


Nadav – Mission Bay

Our 12.15pm Lion cubs class was a high coach to cub ratio this week and Nadav’s soccer skills shone out. Nadav listened attentively to the directions for each drill and during our scrimmage game he gave it his all, dribbling up and down the field switching from defender to striker with ease. Keep up the great work!

Most Improved Player:

Sabrina – Loomis Street
Sabrina was a really impressive Grizzly this week. She got really involved in the scrimmage and showed some great dribbling skills. Celebrated all her goals with lots of smiles. She was also the last player standing in ‘Shark Attack’.

Player of the week – taking a look at Mission Bay this week!

Player of The Week:

Niklas – 10.15am

Fox Cubs This week our player of the week goes to one of our younger cubs – Niklas. Niklas has been with us for a number of seasons now and his skills on the ball are top of his class. Even the games where balls are optional Niklas never takes part without a ball at his feet – constantly improving his dribbling and shooting skills.


Callan – 11.15am Tigers

During our drizzly 11.15am Tiger cubs class our numbers were low but the cubs that made it out were on the top of their game. We specifically have to mention Callan, always happy to be at class Callan this week showed off his skills in style. Dribbling, toe taps, step overs were just some of the skills that Callan did to perfection this week! Keep up the good work!

Most Improved Player:

Jonas – 9.15am Lion Cubs

Jonas has really started to shine in our Mission bay Lion cubs class. This week he took on a leadership role in our scrimmage game yet followed instructions really well and utilized his team mates. He has developed excellent close control.

This weeks “stand out” cubs

Player of The Week:
Mason – 11.15am Grizzlies
Never one to give up, Mason showed some improving skills this week. His close control with the soccer ball was very impressive throughout the class.

Joseph – 11.15am Grizzles
After taking some tough tackles Joseph still kept a smile on his face. He kept playing really well throughout the whole session.

Most Improved Player:
William – 10.15am Grizzlies
William has been steadily improving in every session. He has developed good close control and is now adding some impressive passing to his skills.

Our Outstanding Cubs

Player of The Week:
Devin (Lions 9.15am)
Devin was new to class this week but this didn’t stop him having fun and improving his skills as soon as the class started. Devin really impressed the coaches with his close ball control and great attitude in the scrimmage.
Most Improved Player:
Mateo (11.15 Grizzlies)
Mateo has started the Grizzlies season really well. Always had a smile on his face and never gives up. He had improved his soccer skills so much in the last few sessions, especially his close control and passing.
Wild Card:
Marley (Grizzlies 10.15am)
This was Marley’s first class of the new season and this did not stop her getting involved in all the games with a great attitude. She stood out in the scrimmage with Coach Santiago.

Tips for aspiring midfielders and their parents

It takes a great squad to win a World Cup,along the way the U.S. Women’s National Team left blood, sweat and tears on the field. Morgan Brian’s clash of heads in the semi final win against world number 1 ranked Germany embodied the steeliness of the team. Abby Wambach’s and Christie Rampone’s selflessness by putting the squad first and not allowing their demotion to the bench detract from the formidable spirit this group of players had shown as they progressed through the earlier rounds of play.

However the heart beat of this team was Carli Lloyd. To witness her performance in the World Cup final against Japan was a beautiful sight. The culmination of 33 years of sacrifice, dedication and practice came to fruition in an absolutely stunning execution of midfield play.

Below are some tips for those of us hoping to raise the next great midfielder like Carli Lloyd:

  • A midfielder must be fit. They are the engine of the team so while there are nuances to the position such as attacking vs. defensive the one constant is that a midfielder must have the fitness to cover the full length of the field continuously over the course of a match. Swimming, tennis, basketball and track are all great sports which complement soccer at an early age.
  • A midfielder must have a great touch.Midfielders link the play between defense and attack.This means offering themselves as an outlet for a pass at all times thus the ability to control the ball with either their left or right foot under pressure is crucial. Players should always work on exercises which strengthen their non dominant foot.
  • The skill of passing is a fundamental part of soccer. If a pass is misplaced then your team is instantly under pressure. Short passes can help build up tempo allowing you to disorientate the opposition by disrupting their defensive set up when attacking. Space is the freed up for a decisive forward pass which should allow a shot on goal. Of course maintaining possession by passing means the opposition cannot do anything other then chase the play.
  • Shooting from distance should be in every midfielders’ tool box as they have the opportunity to catch the goal keeper off guard particularly if there are other players crowding their line of sight. Players should practice shooting from outside the 18 yard box with both their right and left feet.

We’ll leave tackling for another post.

See Carli Lloyd’s hat trick here:


Can “Hands” Solo deliver the US to the world cup final?


The must see clash between the USA and Germany occurs on Tuesday June 30th 4pm PST. Their pre-tournament rankings have proven accurate as number one ranked Germany takes on the number 2 ranked USA.

A lot talk going into the World Cup surrounded the attacking talents of the USA in the shape of Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. However it has been the dominant displays their era defining goalkeeper Hope Solo and her defense which has allowed the team to progress through the tournament.

Solo has only conceded 1 goal in the first 5 games while leading the tournament’s goalkeeping statistics with 11 saves.The US will be riding high on confidence after their victory over China but they will go into this match as underdogs.

The German team have banged in 20 goals but also have survived a penalty shootout against a dominant French team thanks to their veteran shot stopper Nadine Angerer.Keep your eye on the tournament’s top scorer Celia Sasic who will look to breach the USA’s defensive unit.

Hope Solo will need to keep another clean sheet for the USA to progress to the world cup final where they will face either England or Japan.

Tips for aspiring young keepers and their parents :

  • Try as many sports as possible basketball, volleyball,tennis,swimming among others as they will improve dexterity,the ability to read the flight of a ball and flexibility.There is plenty of time specialize in the future.
  • Play in the outfield. Keepers need to understand the mechanics of playing different positions.In addition to having great handling skills they need to be able to play the ball with their feet.
  • Encouragement is key as goalkeeping is a very unforgiving position.

See the Quarter Final Highlights here:


USA is at the top of their group!

USA is at the top of their group!

The Women’s World Cup is well under way and our home team is top of their group and top overall by the looks of the table below – GO USA!!! Check out the standings as of today:http://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/groups/

Be sure to check out their next game on June 26 at 4:30pm when USA plays China!

Former USA player, Mia Hamm, had some great viewpoints on kids, soccer and parents that she gave in a 2012 interview. At SFF Soccer Juniors we strive to build a foundation of soccer skills in a fun environment that will prolong girl’s and boy’s love of soccer. Here are some excerpts from the interview that marry closely with our program philosophy at SFF Soccer Juniors.

What part of coaching you got as a youngster helped you succeed?

At a certain age, that reinforcement is important, but at a young age it’s about development and making sure that the kids really enjoy the environment they’re in so they want to come back and continue to learn and listen.

What advice do you have for parents of aspiring players?

My parents really allowed soccer — and whatever I chose — to be my passion and not theirs. I heard one of my coaches say the best advice he can give to the parents is just be their parent. As a parent myself, I can pay other people to do their job in terms of coaching my kids. I don’t want anyone but me and my husband to be their parents.

What advice do you have for young soccer players?

Have fun and everyday you step out there let’s see how much better I can get. And doing it together is even better.