Count Chad Johnson among the football icons who believe our children should play soccer.
Last Summer, Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh shared his belief that every American boy should play soccer until the eighth grade before transitioning to American football. Washington State head football coach Mike Leach has also gone on record as wanting to recruit football players who have strong soccer backgrounds.
Johnson believes that teaching our youth athletes the game of soccer will put them at an advantage later in their athletic careers regardless of the sport they eventually choose to focus on.
"[Playing] multiple sports is good. Basketball, baseball, football, soccer. Soccer, especially soccer, you've got to have that foundation from the waist down as far as your footwork goes. If you implement soccer, and parents need to hear this—implement soccer into your child's everyday life. Because the footwork that you develop from the game of soccer, your child will be a master at anything else. Because their footwork is going to be 10 times better in any other sport if you had that game of soccer implemented at an early age. It's unbelievable what it'll do for you," Johnson recently told STACK.
The footwork, balance and body control soccer can build at an early age gives athletes a strong foundation to build upon as they enter their teenage years and beyond. Even if the standard "soccer season" in your area overlaps with a youth athlete's existing sport, there are still plenty of ways to integrate soccer in a young person's life. Simply buying a soccer ball and encouraging them to play pick-up games with friends can make them more nimble and build the important brain-foot connection that's key to success in so many sports. The rules of soccer are also quite simple compared to many other sports, making it a game many children can pick up quickly from an early age. While there's no guarantee getting a youth athlete involved with soccer will make them an elite athlete later in life, many pro athletes—form Giannis Antetokounmpo to Ndamukong Suh—credit playing soccer during their childhoods with helping them become superior athletes.
Photo Credit: @Ochocinco/Instagram
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