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Training an 11 year old for soccer season...

My 11 year old cousin asked me to help him out to get ready for soccer this coming school year. He needs help with his speed and lateral agility. Hell, probably wants to improve every aspect of his game. He’s never done any type of strength training… anyone have any suggestions? I have an agility ladder from when I used to play ball, and access to all kinds of training equipment. Can anyone recommend anything for a kid his age? Thanks everyone.

I do a great amount of work within this age group of soccer players. Please feel free to ask questions. In faith, Coach Davies

Hey Coach, thanks for the quick reply. Well, I’ve helped coach little league baseball a little bit, but I was mostly teaching fundamentals. I don’t know very much about training for speed & quickness. If I worked with him for an hour, twice a week… what sorts of things would you recommend?

I've done some plyo stuff myself in high school, but I'm not too sure about younger kids. I'd assume they'd need some sort of strengthening phase to prepare the tendons & joints. As I said, I do have an agility ladder.. so some footwork drills would be excellent.

I've actually seen him play and he's got some speed, but his defense needs work. I think lateral quickness and agility is where he needs the most work.

I feel like I'm asking too many questions. I'm really not just not even sure where to begin. If you could just get me rolling Coach, with maybe a couple ideas for drills & med-ball work I could do with him. Thanks a lot for any help. It's much appreciated.

First step is understanding what he is presently doing. Please fill me when you have the chance. In faith, Coach Davies

I’m a little older in the 17 year old range. And since I was doing football at the time I ended up doing alot of squat work. When soccer season came along it turned out I had great quickness. I’m not sure it’d be that effective in the younger ages. But make sure he works on his form for running too… I see alot of kids who run like gerbils on crack. On his defense… Tell him to keep his feet and stay farther back from the opponent. If you look around you’ll see some of the main points for playing soccer defense in books or web sites. Just delay, delay, delay… And at such a young age if a kid tries a one on one move he’ll probably screw it up and your kid can clear.

Right now he is doing nothing. He just finished baseball season, and pretty much does what kids do… play’s basketball with his friends. He’s a motivated kid, I know he can do well. He’s got pretty wide shoulders, and a coupla two three extra pounds. No big deal though.

I’m just not sure about kids his age and training them like this. He’s never really been through any sort of strength or conditioning program. He has gone through a couple of speed camps, though.

What types of exercises would you use for a kid his age? Med., stability ball stuff? Bodyweight stuff? I remember a couple of footwork drills I went through when I was a kid, but I don’t know if they’re really any good. I saw great results using the agility ladder though, I’d like to do some things with that.

I hope I’m not asking for too much, but I am trying to be specific, Coach. Any more information you need…?

11 year olds should NEVER lift weights. I say 15 is best or AT LEAST 12! Maybe push ups and sit ups. It sounds like your pushing him too hard let him be a boy. An 11 year old is not mature enough to decide “I want to train extra for soccor.”

Dude, he asked me for help. I’m not pushing him into doing anything. I’ve seen studies showing some nice results with 10 year old kids and strength training. It’s not like I’d put him in the squat rack, maybe a set of leg curls or tricep extensions, no big deal.

Actually at 11 years of age is a great time to begin training. Not with a program developed around heavy weights, but body awareness, balance, coordination and footwork. When you are young training and learning new things comes easy. Look at young children who are computer whizes, know 2-3 languages etc… Look at the number of adults who have trouble with computers, and struggle to learn even the basics of a 2nd language. Some neural pathways shut down at a certain age, and need to be taken advantage of while its easy.

I recall the great Jimmie Foxx [baseball history (especially the study of ballplayer’s physical and mental abilities in the past) has bee na pashion of mine for years] as a 12 yr old child able to lift a 200 bag pound of nails. The more I study about the farm boys and coal miners the more amazing their physical abilities come through. With the constant lifting and other farmwork he had to do as a child it made him an extremely powerful man. I see nothing wrong with lifting weights at 11 yrs old. However being a beginner caution should naturally be advised. Just my two cents.

bump for the Coach.

I have played soccer futbol since I was 5.
What he should do at 11 is sprints 50 to 100 yards? This should give him great strengh in his legs. I don’t know if at that age he should be doing squats. But what he should be doing is stretching his legs and sprints. Work his abs too because this helps with your ‘heading’. Then the most important part for ball control is spending as long as possible everyday seeing how long he can keep the ball up. Using legs, knees, shoulders and head. This will give him excellent ball control. Have him also jump from a bottom part of a squat to a platform about 1 yard above the ground. I hope this helps.


Given that he has yet to do any physical conditioning I think it is time to start him off with consideration of the total “wheel of conditioning” and limitations of his age. I would be happy to discuss more if you wish. In faith, Coach Davies

Hey Coach, yeah I’d love to talk more about this. I’m really not sure about what I should do with a kid his age. Thanks for taking the time to respond. It truly means a lot to me.