What do spaceships, cookie monsters, and jungle monkeys have in common?

They are each used in games as part of Soccer Shots, an organization with locations across the U.S. that focuses on kids ages 2 to 8 and uses soccer as a platform to promote creativity  and character building life skills. The program was founded in 2000 by former collegiate and professional soccer players to teach children how to play soccer in a positive setting that encourages healthy development.

Children who are active tend to perform well in school; however, many kids shy away from organized sports for a variety of reasons. Whether they do not like competition, get anxious from parents watching  from the sidelines, or feel pressure to be the best, many children who decide not to participate on the field miss out on the physical, social, mental, and emotional benefits.

Soccer Shots “We like to reinforce the value of play because it is a proven catalyst and necessary element for a healthy child’s development,” said James Evans, owner of the Soccer Shots serving San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Almeda Counties in California. Evans mentions that research proves you cannot underestimate play. “We hope to aid in development of the whole child, reinforcing motor skills, group play dynamics and creativity, in an organized program that isn’t rigid.”

The program helps children learn how to play together.

Evans mentions it is a taught skill and does not come naturally to most people, but playing with coaches and other kids is an invaluable lesson. Creative games with Soccer Shots take out the “skill and drill” of sports, and instead, they encourage a child to act like a honey bee, travel to the tundra with a polar bear, or venture to outer space. Soccer skills come as a secondary benefit of learning within the program.  The program still requires that your student have some of the best soccer cleats.

Children that engage in Soccer Shots sessions learn about encouragement, teamwork, positivity, patience, respect, and confidence.

The words are not taught to the children on a blackboard, and instead are incorporated while playing games and making friends.

As children move through the program, Soccer Shots focuses on participants becoming successful in low pressure and high relational environments in athletics, higher level motor skill development, and fitness.

The curriculum takes the children to an imaginative place: soccer balls become coconuts, and the children have to make sure their tropical monkey has enough coconuts for winter, so they corral the soccer balls to a certain area.

“We have silly, creative settings for children who may not be athletically inclined,” Evans said. “For families that have tried to put their child in a more competitive or serious active climate, Soccer Shots is great for the kids that don’t feel comfortable with other kids or don’t have relationships with them,” he added. In this setting, children have a heightened confidence, and they can practice skills in a safe environment as opposed to a league setting, which is usually a child’s first exposure to sports.

Most kids jump right into playing a sport for a score, and they miss out on playing for enjoyment, which is what Soccer Shots aims to provide.

“We’re really invested in getting a child comfortable and excited about sports for sports sake instead of the automatic league setting,” Evans said.

Soccer Shots removes the fear of failing because it is the first experience the child has with sports and it is a positive experience.

This instills an active and healthy lifestyle, keeping fitness in a proper role of a low pressure and high enjoyment environment.

For more information, please visit www.soccershots.org

By Lauren Kaminski

Lauren Kaminski joined No Limit Media Consulting in September of 2012 as a Senior Brand Communicator. Bringing more than four years of agency experience to the position, she has successfully placed a wide variety of clients in national and local press for consumer and trade outlets. Lauren was a Journalism major at Boston University, with an additional concentration in American History and Culture. In her free time, you can find Lauren working out, going on long walks through Chicago, or at the beach with her friends during the summer.