(Guest post from Robin Tilley, Franchise Support Coordinator, Soccer Shots Franchising)
There are so many aspects of the Soccer Shots model that are worth promoting, and each day I become more and more proud to be a part of something so genuinely good for our youth. Most of the benefits are clear: physically, we promote exercise, coordination, agility and balance, among other abilities. Mentally, we focus on character-building concepts such as teamwork, appreciation and honesty. These items alone set us apart from our competition.
But there’s one piece of our program that may sometimes get lost among the other more superficial advantages – the fact that Soccer Shots is non-competitive. I realize this could have been a selling point for parents who believe it’s the best option for their kids, beginners with no experience in sports, and we stress that this is why we’re different than a typical soccer league. But it’s something to keep in mind as kids move through the Mini and Classic programs and into our Premier programs, when children already have experience with the game.
In my opinion, and from what I’ve seen growing up in various organized sports, many parents push their kids too hard. Some pressure their kids into trying out for the best teams, practicing on their own after scheduled sessions, and giving them a hard time if they’re not excelling above the other kids. I’ve seen so many of my friends and former teammates “burn out” and quit at a young age because of the pressure. Luckily, I wasn’t one of those kids. I recently ran my first full marathon, and it got me thinking about what got me motivated enough to do this – and how my background in sports contributed to this.
Compared to some of my close friends, I got a “late” start in soccer, only playing in a basic recreational league until sometime in middle school, before eventually trying out for travel and elite teams. Most of my friends were playing on these advanced teams since elementary school, three or four years before me. My parents, neither of whom were very involved in sports growing up, didn’t even think to pressure me into these teams and didn’t even know much about them. I eventually decided on my own that I wanted more of a challenge, so I asked my parents to try out for the elite team and ended up fitting right in. Even by that point – in 7th or 8th grade – some of my teammates were beginning to resent the sport they had been pressured into playing. Some felt inferior if they didn’t think they were playing up to their parents’ or coach’s expectations.
I slowly excelled and played for higher-level teams, but all at my own pace. When it came time to try out for the JV and varsity teams in high school – at my AAAA high school, known for having consistently competitive teams in the state of Pennsylvania – I essentially skipped over two entire teams – I played for the 8th grade team in 8th grade, and skipped over the 9th grade and JV teams, becoming the only freshman on my varsity team in 9th grade (I also played for JV that year, too). I got some ink in local newspapers and played in the state championship that year (is it OK to toot my own horn if I’m making a point?!). I certainly “peaked” later than many of my teammates and friends, but I’m glad it worked out that way. I never burnt out from the sport I loved and no one pressured me into doing something I didn’t want to. I made my own decisions as I felt ready and driven to do so. And although my collegiate “career” was limited to a short period on Penn State’s club team (which turned out to be too much of a commitment – I was more interested in getting involved with other organizations and jobs), I still play in various local leagues today.
Soccer is only one part of the equation. I’ve always had a passion for running, and I’ve always done it on my own terms – outside of soccer practice and a brief stint in middle school cross country. I’ve always been motivated on my own to run by myself, with very few exceptions. I am 100% certain that I never would have run a marathon if I’d had outside pressure to run at a certain level before this point.
Kids will motivate themselves. They’ll become competitive in a sport or activity if it’s what they’re truly passionate about. I also played softball and swam competitively as a kid, but neither sport was fun enough to me to stick – and that’s OK. I love that at Soccer Shots, we don’t push competition; we simply push fun. And, let’s be honest – a child won’t ever be passionate about something unless they associate it with fun, right?
I vividly remember growing up and hearing certain parents yell at their kids from the sidelines of the soccer field, and even arguing with coaches about their child’s playing time. I’m so grateful that my parents never put that pressure on me, and I’m so proud that Soccer Shots is helping to lay the foundation for a healthier youth sports world filled with happy, confident athletes.
Following are a few “highlight points” that prospective partners often wish to know about us while considering inviting Soccer Shots onto their campus (regarding our credentials, space requirements, etc.):
- And this growth has been achieved in merely ten years in America.
- This year (2013) we will celebrate our 6th anniversary in the greater Los Angeles area.
Praise for Soccer Shots!
- Ranked “#1 Children’s Fitness Program” by Entrepreneur Magazine for the last two, consecutive years for quality of operation!
- We must be doing something right (actually, many things).
- Ask Referrals- please see our “testimonials” tab to learn about some of our many of our glowing parent experiences or…
- Feel free to call any current partner site listed on our web site. Frankly, this type of word of mouth is how we often begin new partnerships because our partner sites have such a great experience with Soccer Shots!
Physical Space Requirements
- Soccer Shots can operate in a space a small as 8 by 10 feet; we do not require a full soccer field!
- Playing Surfaces: Many sites have grass on which we play, but we also play on artificial turf, flat rubber surfaces, and indoor surfaces including wooden gym spaces and tile floors!
- Soccer Shots can sustain a class at any site with only six children enrolled.
- That said, many sites fill classes (our capacity is 12) and some offer multiple classes due to high demand.
Age Appropriate Programs
We offer three highly specialized and unique programs:
MINI: 2 to 3 year olds
Soccer Shots Mini is a high-energy program introducing children to fundamental soccer principles, such as using your feet, dribbling, and the basic rules of the game.
CLASSIC: 3 to 5 year olds (Pre-K)
For nearly 15 years, Soccer Shots has been introducing soccer exclusively to children ages 3 to 5. Using creative and imaginative games, weekly sessions focus on basic soccer skills like dribbling, passing, and shooting.
PREMIER: 5 to 8 year olds (K-2nd)
This program is for children who are new to soccer or who want to build upon what they have learned in Soccer Shots Classic. Focusing on individual skill, fitness, and sportsmanship, each session provides an opportunity for kids to be challenged through fun games and team competitions.
- Our founders are former professional soccer players and parents who developed specially designed curriculum that demonstrated a clear understanding of the mental and motor skill developmental readiness of young children.
- All of our coaches are Live Scan cleared (and results provided to all partner sites) after a thorough interview and audition process and none are places without completing our training. Nearly all have strong backgrounds working with both children and soccer to begin with!
- Of course, Soccer Shots is insured and all partner sites are provided with annually updated Certificates of Insurance listing them as “additionally insured.”
Cost & Pricing Options
- Classes typically cost $14 per child per class or $18 per class at parks to cover our rental agreements there.
- Elective Enrichment Approach: Most of our partner sites offer Soccer Shots to those interested wherein parents register and pay for their children, NOT the school.
- Egalitarian Approach: However, several of our sites do include ALL of their children and pay for their classes, having built into their enrollment fees an extra cost associated with all enrichment classes they provide. Ask about special “group rates” that apply in these cases.
- Season Length: Duration of our “seasons” vary, depending on the needs of our partner sites, from 8 to 12 weeks in duration.
- Quarterly Seasons: Typically, our sessions start quarterly at the beginning of the school year in September, in January, right after Spring Break and at the beginning of Summer.
- How Many Seasons Are Required? Most of our partner sites elect to offer Soccer Shots year round. However, some take summers off and other elect to simply offer a season or two annually, usually Fall and Spring.
- Annual Enrollment Option: Some of our partner schools elect to offer annual programs paid for by monthly, automatic draft.
- Scheduling Weekly Classes: Soccer Shots meets weekly at partner sites for 40 minute classes at a day and time that is convenient to our partner sites. Classes are available any time, morning or afternoon!
How to Gauge Potential Interest?
- Soccer Shots gladly offers FREE “Demo Days” wherein every child at a school in our age group is involved in a brief, eight to ten minute “demo” class to sample what we do. This allows for prospective sites to see firsthand what we do and determine potential interest of their students and families.
(Guest post from Alyssa McGarigal, Lead Coach, Soccer Shots Los Angeles)
Back in the beginning of October, I started class taking attendance, and asking the kids, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” I got a few expected DisneyLands, a couple of kids said the beach, and two blew me away… One little boy, about 4 years old said, “To 7-11, and get a slushie.” Another little girl, same age, said, “To a field of flowers, and go picking.”
Too often, as adults, I feel like we forget the little things. I am out there to have fun with the kids, without a doubt.
But I’m often doing upwards of 10 things at once: I am a coach, a referee, a conflict resolver, a friend, a big kid, a nurse, a hug, a deep breath…
I try to be the best part of each and every kid’s day, in whatever way they need me to be. For some it’s the soccer, the games, the exercise, for others it’s the conversation, the high fives, the stickers or the stamps…
Towards the end of October, I experienced one of the hardest days I have ever experienced, and will probably be one of the hardest throughout my future career. We had a tragedy at the Elementary School I am interning at as a School Counselor. I walked out of school that day mentally and emotionally drained. I got in my car, and I drove to the park where I had about 10 minutes before my Soccer Shots class. I set up, I got ready, and I kept telling myself, I can do this.
It wasn’t until the kids got there, we circled up, and we started talking that I felt a little better. We raced across the field for warm up, we hopped around, we made animal noises, little by little, I started to forget the day that I just had.
The exercise and endorphins, the laughter, the silliness, and happiness of this group of kids were heartwarming. All these things were the little things I needed at the end of a really tough day. Soccer Shots was my field of flowers, my slushie, that day.
In my year and a half with Soccer Shots, I have learned so much! I have gained so much respect and understanding for teachers who spend an entire day with our kids. I have learned an incredible amount from each group of kids: their perspective of the world, their culture, the things that are important to them. I have learned how to be a better teacher, coach, mentor, and person.
Whether it’s a field of flowers, a slushie, some exercise, or hopping around like a frog yelling “RIBBIT” at the top of your lungs; I have been reminded to take time and reflect on the little things, make the best out of any situation, and enjoy life. That’s why I do what I do, and why I coach for Soccer Shots; each class has some “little things” for everyone involved.
I would like to share with you all, the great things a parent had to say about our coaching staff. Truly remarkable!
Last week I was doing a 1 on 1 training session with a 3 year old boy for about 45 mins.
As I arrive the site the father approaches me and says, ” We don’t use words like good job, if you know what I mean.” I looked up at him and said “I do understand what you mean.” (In my mind, I thought, mmmm very interesting). I had to switch my style of coaching without doing so much positive praising.
So after having a day of coaching in the AM I had already dropped like 100 “good jobs” to children from the AM sessions. So it was a little tough to not say “good job” to the 3 year old boy. Of course I dropped like 20 “good jobs” in the 45 minutes. Lol.
Now, the child also attends our Cheviot Hills park program on Saturday mornings.
The 1 on 1 session was successful and as I chat with the mom of the 3 year old boy she had many nice things to say about Soccer Shots.
The parent said that we prefers Soccer Shots over another intro to soccer program that they had tried because, in her opinion the Soccer Shots coaches know exactly what they are doing. The child had a season with this other program but did not enjoy it.
She went on to mention,
“Coach Alyssa is a great coach and teacher out there, she brings great energy to every session and my child has fun with her, I am happy to see that you guys teach more than soccer, you teach great values and skills that will be used in life.”
“Coach Charlie is great with the children as well and brings fun energy to every session.”
Great job out there coaches!!! You know you are doing something right when someone makes a remark about you.
Keep up the great job out there coaches and remember, the #1 rule is to have FUN!!
Soccer Shots is a leader in youth soccer development for children ages 2 (MINI), 3-5 (CLASSIC) and 6-8 (PREMIER). Our nationally recognized non-competitive skills program offers a high energy, fun, age-appropriate introduction to the wonderful game of soccer.
Our innovative curriculum extends beyond physical activity to incorporate values like respect, sharing, teamwork, encouragement and cooperation. The enhancement of a child’s coordination, balance and agility is often seen immediately, but it is the building blocks being created for a life long love of sports that have the strongest impact. In each 40 minute class, experienced and enthusiastic instructors focus on having fun while guiding children through imaginative games that teach basic soccer skills. Our instructors are energetic and enthusiastic, are great teachers, and love working with children.
We are proud to offer the following unique programs at local preschools, elementary schools, and parks.
2 to 3 year olds
Soccer Shots Mini is a high-energy program introducing children to fundamental soccer principles, such as using your feet, dribbling, and the basic rules of the game. Through fun games, songs, and positive reinforcement, children will begin to experience the joy of playing soccer and being active.
3 to 5 year olds (Pre-K)
For nearly 15 years, Soccer Shots has been introducing soccer exclusively to children ages 3 to 5. Using creative and imaginative games, weekly sessions focus on basic soccer skills like dribbling, passing, and shooting. We also highlight a positive character trait each session such as respect, teamwork, and appreciation. Soccer Shots will expose your child to the fun of soccer and provide the foundation needed to get started in the sport.
5 to 8 year olds (K-2nd)
This program is for children who are new to soccer or who want to build upon what they have learned in Soccer Shots Classic. Focusing on individual skill, fitness, and sportsmanship, each session provides an opportunity for kids to be challenged through fun games and team competitions. Children will also be introduced to tactical elements of the game as they prepare to play on competitive teams.
Yesterday, I experienced a paradigm shift. Over the last 12 months, I’d been watching and thinking about a kid out in Beaverton who loves to act out in our class. It seems, however, that the exact opposite had been happening.
Since our start together, this particular child been acting out in class – using his hands on other kids and generally disrupting the class several times each week. We’d spoken with the teachers to ensure our strategies aligned with theirs. We learned his general background to enable us to have insight and compassion into his behavior. We heard from the child and his parents about how much fun he has with us. We were not letting this one go.
The challenge was that most anything that is established as a behavior is just that – established behavior. So, getting a change – getting a new behavior or an absence of that behavior – entails having purposeful, meaningful interactions to help a child learn new ways to express the sentiment behind the behavior more compassionately or appropriately. To be sure, this boy is sweet, protective, helpful, independent, silly, athletic and intelligent. He’s a bright, fun kid with an oversized heart. However, as I sat down to talk with the director of his school yesterday, the child’s acting out was still on my mind. We’d seen improvement, but not what I’d expected – not over this long a period of time. Was it time to re-strategize?
“Oh no,” she said. “You don’t know what he was doing outside your class.”
She went on to describe a set of behaviors another full notch beyond what we’d seen at Soccer Shots. Her words were a block of wood hitting my head, rattling around facts and lines of thought I’d drawn.
In the wider context of his behavior elsewhere, he wasn’t acting out much at all with us. My head rocked for a minute as a huge paradigm shift occurred: Instead of thinking of him as acting out in our class, I began to see how with us, he may have found a place to act in.
The first Soccer Shots class I attended, I was completely blown away by the excitement of both the kids and coaches. It was such a great experience to see kids outside enjoying each other and having an amazing time kicking the ball around. When children are young, joining a soccer program might just seem like something fun to get them outside. Which is definitely true, but it is so much more.
People may not realize the excellent life lessons these children are learning from these simple 40 minutes classes. Not only are they learning how to play one of the world’s favorite sports, they are gaining social knowledge that will stay with them forever. Soccer is a sport that requires communication, teamwork, and positive attitudes.
Sounds a lot like every day life, right? Because these kids are young, being apart of a soccer team teaches them how to be social and make friends with the people around them, which will be very handy for when they are growing up. If they are able to learn how to be outgoing when they are in preschool or kindergarten, school and future life experiences will be much easier.
When I was watching the class, I noticed a little girl in the beginning who seemed shy and embarrassed to do the soccer drills. When I asked her if she was okay she replied quietly, “Yeah, but I don’t want to mess up.” Because the coaches had the other children encourage and cheer for everyone, it helped the little girl gain confidence, and she ended up having an great time and scored a goal! By the end, she was chanting the other kids names for them to score goals just as they did for her. As simple as this seems, the little girl was able to break out of her shell and make friends from that one experience. Soccer has really helped me in my life too. I started playing when I was just five years old and now I am nineteen and still loving it. All of my closest friends are my soccer teammates and we all push each other to do good in school and life.
For me, not only am I staying active, I have learned to be dedicated to everything I commit to, I am able to communicate with people very easy, and I also know how to listen to rules and follow them.
I am totally not the type of person that will go outside and run on my own, but I look forward to going to practice to be with my friends while being productive. My team (as are most teams) is required to have a certain grade point average, so that disciplines us all to make sure our school work is going good. I give soccer and my coaches a lot of the credit for who I am today.
I was so happy to see those kids playing because I know the experience they are getting. It is hard to understand how children this young can be affected so much from these classes but it will be very apparent when they are older. In my opinion, the three main qualities a person needs in life is, being social (communicate well), dedication, and having a good attitude. With those three attributes, a person is able to do well in school, make friends, and eventually get a job. Any parent worried about how their child will do in life, sign them up for soccer!!
I stumbled upon this quote yesterday and I smiled because I am lucky enough to work for a company that impacts youth all over the world. After watching the terrible events that occur in the news, including the most recent tragedy in Chardon, OH, I can’t help but wonder what happened in this boy’s life that drove him to commit such an act. Did he not have a role model or a positive influence in his life? Was there one incident in this child’s life that shaped who he would become? Although we may never know, it is safe to assume that this could have been prevented.
As a Soccer Shots Director, I receive a handful of emails each season from parents stating how much their child LOVES his/her coach. It puts a smile on my face because we take such pride in hiring a staff that we believe shares our mission to impact youth positively. Managing a group of 3-5 year olds can certainly be a challenge. But if that instructor is with us for the right reasons, they will undoubtedly make a difference in the life of a child.
“Children are one-third of our population, and all of our future.”
Kids are the future, and we must invest in them as we would a 401k. The time and energy that I have put into working for Soccer Shots has been rewarded tenfold. Every time I walk into a center and see the children’s faces light up to see someone wearing a Soccer Shots jacket, it makes it all worthwhile. Not only are those children eager to be physically active, they now have a positive role model in their life. Next time you have an opportunity to dish out a high-five and make a child smile, take it. You never know what that moment might mean in the life of that child.
(Guest post from Coach Alia at Soccer Shots Los Angeles)
Encouragement is the gift that every child should receive. Although this statement seems obvious, encouragement really does make a difference in a child’s life.
I was coaching at Life House Preschool and about two sessions into the program a new child enrolled in my class and I was absolutely thrilled! The kid who was new to the class seemed apprehensive about playing soccer however he came along and attempted to play in all the games. About midway into the session I noticed that he was crying and I went over to him to see what was wrong. He informed me that he was sad because he did not think his mom would pick him up after lunch. I informed him that he had nothing to worry about because he would see his mom soon.
During this situation I saw more than the need for his mother, I also saw a kid who was easily upset and scared. I could easily relate to this child because when I was younger I was very much like him. I was very shy and was often afraid to talk to other people so I was quiet and kept to myself. What really helped me when I was younger was to have somebody encourage me and let me know I was doing a good job in whatever I was doing.
I knew that this child needed encouragement.
What made the situation even more perfect was the fact that the word of the week was encouragement! During the session I explained what encouragement was and had all the kids cheer for one another throughout the session. At the end of the session I also had everyone clap for this kid to show him that he did an amazing job that day at soccer.
During the following week to my surprise this kid did not cry at all!
Instead he was laughing and having a great time throughout the whole class.
I was very excited about this because I know that the other kid’s encouraging words made a difference in this child’s life. It doesn’t take much to encourage a child but it can make an enormous impact on their life in a positive manner. Each and every day, no matter how small it is, encourage a child. It may seem trivial however it can make giant impact in a child’s life.
Soccer Shots is owned and directed by Rian Heim and his wife Alyssa. Their passion for soccer and working with youth was their motivation for bringing Soccer Shots to Los Angeles. 2012 marks the fifth year that Rian and Alyssa have been running Soccer Shots here in Los Angeles. Together they make every effort to deliver a solid program that children, parents, and schools will benefit from and enjoy. They currently live in Playa Del Rey with their two year old son Charlie and dog Buddy.