Soccer's Impact on the Physical Development of a Child

Only healthy people can be happy, but how can we relate that to soccer? While learning soccer skills is important, when teaching a young child to play soccer one must first focus on the importance of the physical aspect of soccer in regards to the child’s development.  

Regular physical activity helps develop a child’s movement skills while building stronger bones, a healthier heart and stronger muscles. Research shows that regular exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved with learning and memory.

 Soccer helps teach many aspects of a child’s development such as body awareness, proprioception, gross motor skills, agility, endurance and strength. Learning these basic physical movements at a young age through sports, such as soccer, can help the child be more athletic than they were naturally meant to be.

It is important to understand that every time a player has to execute a technical skill there are physical capabilities that are needed to execute the specific skill. It is important to understand that with young players, they must develop the physical capabilities before you build the technical skills. If a child cannot control their body because they don’t have the necessary physical capabilities, they cannot execute the technical skills needed to control the ball during a soccer match. If they cannot control the ball within the match, the child cannot control the game. 

At DC Way we work on developing all aspects of the child: physical, mental and their soccer skills. The physical development portions of our programs focus on getting children stronger, healthier and to prepare their bodies for the next steps in development. This prepares them for whatever comes next not only in their soccer career, but also what comes next to creating a happy and healthy lifestyle!


Meet Panna the Panda


Hi DC Way Family!

Meet Panna the Panda!  DC Way’s friendly and happy-go-lucky mascot!  Panna the Panda visits camps and clinics at DC Way and enjoys becoming friends with all our campers. 

Our blog uses Panna to provide examples of what we offer and the unique benefits soccer provides at DC Way.  Soccer is a great sport because it helps develop both physical and cognitive skills at a young age.  As a team sport, soccer provides the opportunity to practice communication and team work.  Having to move across the field is a great way to keep active while simultaneously using strategic thinking and decision making to score goals.  Playing soccer at DC Way has made Panna more confident in themselves because of the experiences and skills it has taught!

Read more of our blog posts to learn more about the many benefits of playing soccer at DC Way!

How Soccer Can Enhance Emotional Intelligence by Caroline Stanton

What is emotional intelligence and why is it important?  Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own and other’s emotions.  More specifically, Harvard Business Review defined emotional intelligence as comprised of four core competencies that include: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.  Having a high level of emotional intelligence can range from navigating conflict to building lasting relationships.  According to Brian Tracy, Forbes CommunityVoice writer, emotional intelligence is critical to successful leadership because it aids in managing team relationships and problem-solving.  This critical life skill can be enhanced even at a young age by playing sports like soccer.

In sports, emotional intelligence means the player has the ability to control their emotions to help them play at peak performance.  If a player has a high level of emotional intelligence, then they are more likely to be consistent during a game or practice.  Soccer helps to build emotional intelligence through strengthening its core competencies.  For example, DC Way coaches help to build the player’s self-awareness through constructional feedback during practice.  Players also must have strong self-management skills to remain calm and play consistently during a high-pressure game that could cause frustration or nervousness.  Furthermore, to be a strong team, players constantly work on developing their relationship management skills.  DC Way builds relationship management skills through team strengthening exercises like Twins. 

In the soccer game Twins, two players tie their inside legs together with a piece of cloth.  The two-player groups break into two teams.  Players stayed linked throughout the game and must pass, shoot, and so forth with their outside leg.  Throughout the game, players will switch sides with their partner on the coach’s command.  The goal of the game is to hit the cones on the goal line with a soccer ball to score a point.  It is important to build emotional intelligence because strong soccer players that are equipped with a high level of emotional intelligence can cope with the range of emotions that come with the challenges of soccer.

Soccer gives the opportunity to build emotional intelligence at any age.  By playing soccer, an individual has a stronger tool set for leadership, team projects, and many other aspects of life.  At DC Way, we focus on building emotional intelligence by providing strategies such as imagery rehearsal and step-by-step coaching.  DC Way welcomes you to start building your child’s emotional intelligence today by joining us at our upcoming One Day Camp!


Adaptability: A Key Strength On and Off the Field by Caroline Stanton

It is more important than ever to be adaptable due to the nature of rapidly developing technology today.  As an employee, being adaptable is key in order to be flexible to change and to have the ability to stay calm under pressure.  Adaptability is also a great tool in soccer for players to become better and to develop essential skills.  Stronger soccer players possess adaptability because they can take direction and apply it to fix mistakes.  These players also can think ahead during games to quickly change strategy under pressure.

At DC Way, we teach adaptability through fun soccer games like Tigers vs Rabbits.  In the game Tigers vs Rabbits, half of the players are the rabbits with no balls and the other half are tigers with balls.  The tigers goal is to try to hit the rabbits below their knee with the ball.  After playing for 1 minute the players switch roles.  Players may prefer to play one role over the other because it plays to their strengths.  However, this game teaches them how to be adaptable because they go from playing a defensive role to an offensive role and vice versa.  The player must be able to change their mindset and body movement between defensive and offensive.  Being adaptable gives players the opportunity to expand and diversify their soccer skill set.

DC Way focuses on important cognitive skills like adaptability through strategic and fun soccer games.  The DC Way team would like to invite you to join DC Way’s upcoming One Day Camp.  In a single day, your child will walk away with critical skills that will make them successful on and off the soccer field.  We hope to see you there!


Teaching Perseverance Through Soccer by Caroline Stanton

Soccer provides various opportunities for children to grow and develop.  An important life lesson taught by soccer is perseverance or the act of not giving up despite obstacles or failure.  “Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% how I react to it”, as once stated by Charles R. Swindoll.  Learning how to play soccer can sometimes be challenging for young children due to lack of skill, developing bodies, or just an off day.  Soccer teaches your child how to deal with disappointment and failure in a positive way.  Mistakes are just a part of the process when developing skills and mastering them.  Being able to persevere despite failure will help your child in both school and in their career.

Sometimes Panna the Panda gets frustrated when they are unable to dribble well during a soccer game like Cannon Ball.  In Cannon Ball, a group of players dribble around the field while other players try to hit their ball away with a different soccer ball.  Panna becomes frustrated by the game because they have trouble dribbling and their ball is knocked away easily.  Panna’s frustration becomes embarrassment as they look around the field and see that other players are not having as much difficulty dribbling their ball.  Just when Panna is thinking about quitting soccer for good they get an idea.  Instead of giving up, Panna asks a DC Way coach for advice on how they can improve their dribbling skills.  After getting some pointers and extra practice with a parent, Panna has become better at dribbling a soccer ball!  Panna feels proud of their accomplishment and shows off their skill during soccer games.  Instead of quitting, Panna learned how to channel their frustration into learning a new skill.

DC Way develops soccer games and drills that build essential life skills in your child such as perseverance.  After school is a great time to give your child the opportunity to socialize and exercise while developing essential skills.  This Fall, DC Way has several ongoing after-school soccer programs and camps!  Our One Day Camp gets your child up and moving while teaching them how to pass and dribble on their day off school.  Other programs like the Development Academy and Ludlow develop soccer and cognitive skills in just a few weeks!  Learn more about our After-School Soccer programs to see how they could benefit your child.

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The Importance of Training Speed for Soccer by Caroline Stanton

     In soccer, speed is more than just running fast.  Speed is a complex tool that will separate an outstanding player from an average player.  Players must have strength, power, efficient body mechanics, and developed thinking to master speed.  Training speed will help a player become more successful on the field.  More importantly, it will help prevent injury by improving technical proficiency and physical ability to move at a higher velocity.

Here are a few attributes of speed that will make you a better player:

·        Quick speed off the mark

·        Quick acceleration over 10 – 15 yards

·        Speed endurance or maintenance

·        Speed in possession of the ball

·        Quickness of feet or agility

·        The ability to change direction quickly

·        Quick execution of skills

·        Quick thinking

     At DC Way, we improve a player’s speed by playing fun soccer games such as Fastest Person in DC.  In this game, the goal is for the players to race to the finish line with either a ball at their feet, in their hands, or with no ball.  The visual sign the coach gives the players will indicate what they will do with the ball.  If the coach holds up a red cone, then the players leave the ball.  A blue cone means they will dribble and if a cone is dropped then the players pick up the ball and run.  Panna the Panda loves the challenge to test their ability to think quickly and move quickly.  At first, Panna noticed that they were a little slower changing direction than other players.  However, after practice, Panna can keep up with most players and is sometimes the first to react!  The Fastest Person in DC is a simple game that tests a player’s ability to react, ability to accelerate, and other critical attributes of speed.

     Through fun soccer games and exercises, DC Way can improve your child’s physical and cognitive skills.  Speed is just one of the many skills that we focus on at our camps and clinics.  DC Way welcomes you to join us at our Summer Soccer Camps to develop your camper’s skills in as little as just one week!  You will be amazed by the change and progress your child will undergo.  The DC Way team and Panna the Panda hopes to see you soon!


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The Importance of Developing Spatial Awareness by Caroline Stanton

             Spatial awareness, the ability to see and understand the relationship of an object to one’s body or the relation between two or more objects, is a critical skill.  This skill helps us think in two and three dimensions, so we can visualize objects from different or changing positions.  Children use this to perform tasks in everyday life from grabbing a pen to avoiding obstacles when walking around.  More specifically, developing this skill will contribute to building visual perception, math skills, and body awareness.

            At DC Way, we strengthen spatial awareness by playing fun soccer games such as Minefield Relay.  In this game, two teams start in opposite corners of a square field.  There are many cones placed throughout the field that represent mines.  The players must run or dribble a ball through the field without touching the cones.  If the player or ball touches the “mine”, he or she must start over.  Panna the Panda enjoys the challenge of navigating through the field and takes a few tries to complete the obstacle course.  The ability to navigate through an obstacle course requires a significant amount of spatial awareness and rates the player’s ability to move around objects.  By playing this game, Panna has noticed an improvement in their ability to control and navigate the ball around the soccer field!

            DC Way understands the importance of developing spatial awareness in children.  Through fun soccer games and exercises we work on developing multiple cognitive and physical skills that will further your child’s development.  DC Way invites you and your child to join DC Way’s Summer Soccer Camps!  Panna the Panda and the DC Way team hopes to see you soon!

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Red Light! Green Light! Pay Attention! by Caroline Stanton

            Your mind is like a muscle that needs to be exercised and strengthened.  The ability to pay attention is critical to individual performance and productivity.  For example, how well children can focus is imperative to their ability to learn in the classroom.  In soccer, a strong attention span can help a player successfully focus on strategies or tasks needed to win a game.  Being able to manage your attention will lead to successful task completion and enhance the capability to manage more than one task.

            At DC Way, we practice paying attention through the soccer exercise called Car Racing.  In this game, everyone pretends they are in a car and they dribble their ball under a different speed or gear.  The players must follow different commands that are called out such as red light, green light, yellow light, speed up, and runaway trucks.  The players must try to dribble their ball to the finish line by correctly following the various commands called out by the coach.  This exercise encourages Panna the Panda to listen carefully to the coach the entire game to successfully cross over to the finish line.  At times Panna wants to give their attention to other interesting things but remains engaged because they enjoy the game.  A child’s attention span is elastic, but they are willing to give more of their attention to tasks that they enjoy.

            By creatively turning soccer drills into fun games, DC Way engages our player’s attention.  A good learning environment is key to establishing an atmosphere where children can better concentrate.  We believe that training your child’s attention span will help them be successful on the field, in the classroom, and in life!  We invite you and your child to join DC Way at our Summer Soccer Camps to learn essential life skills.  The DC Way team and Panna the Panda hope to see you soon!



Strengthening Social Skills Through Teamwork & Bonding by Caroline Stanton

           Communication and the ability to work in a team are two of the ten essential skills employers look for in recent college graduates, according to Susan Adams, Forbes employee.  It is easy to understand the value of communication because it is used in every function of life from work to social events.  Moreover, mastering in-person communication has become even more important than ever due to its dying nature with rapidly increasing technology.  Communication and teamwork are pinnacle to the game of soccer and the success of a team.

            DC Way encourages communication amongst players through fun games and exercises like Spiderweb.  At the start of the game, two kids link arms and attempt to add to the link by tagging other players like a spiderweb catching bugs.  Panna the Panda enjoys this game because as the chain grows so does the communication amongst players.  Through this game, Panna can practice teamwork by coordinating and talking with the other players to more effectively catch other kids.  Working as a team helps Panna build emotional maturity because it requires them to think of others.

            DC Way celebrates communication and teamwork at every soccer clinic and camp.  Communication and teamwork are just some of the many skills we teach to help your kid be successful in life.  We welcome you to join our Summer Soccer Camps to teach your camper essential skills!  You’ll be amazed how in just one week they can learn so much!  We hope to see you there!


Coach and campers playing a game of Spiderweb!

Coach and campers playing a game of Spiderweb!

How an Egg Can Teach Responsibility by Caroline Stanton

          Being responsible is an important quality to possess for both on and off the soccer field.  To be a responsible person means that you are trustworthy because you are accountable for your actions.  A responsible player demonstrates good sportsmanship and is dependable to their team.  Responsibility is a key quality to have to better achieve set goals, raise team morale, and to build individual character.

            DC Way has taught Panna the Panda how to be responsible through a fun imagination-engaging exercise.  In this exercise, all the players must pretend that they are eggs that will crack or break if they bump into each other.  The players get an opportunity to run around for a minute and try not to bump into each other to protect their shells.  Panna loves this exercise because it is funny to pretend to be an egg.  Moreover, Panna learned how to be responsible for themselves and their space when moving around many other players.  Panna feels a sense of pride when they can successfully navigate themselves around others without cracking their shell.

            At DC Way, we understand the importance of demonstrating responsibility during practice and games.  Responsibility is just one of the many skills we teach your child to help them be successful in soccer and life.  We welcome you to join us at our Summer Soccer Camps to teach your camper essential skills!  Within a week or even one day, your child will walk away with the tools they need.  Panna and the DC Way team hopes to see you soon!


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Quick Decision Making: Soccer & Life by Caroline Stanton

Decision-making is a key factor in the game of soccer.  Over half the time, loss of possession of the ball occurs from poor decision making and not from insufficient technical skills.  As stated by J. Valdano, “Without the intelligence to play, the (technical) ability becomes an aimless virtue.”  Soccer is a fast-paced sport that requires the player to think about multiple things while playing the game.  Therefore, it is just as critical that the player can think at a high-level as it is possessing technical skills.

At DC Way, Panna the Panda has learned how to fine tune their decision-making skills through various soccer games and drills.  For example, in the game of tic-tac-toe, two players or two teams compete to try to get three pinnies or soccer balls in a row.  Panna loves this game because you must make a quick decision in response to the current game situation.  Panna still has a way to go to master decision-making, but is excited for the opportunity to practice it through various fun and exciting games at DC Way.

DC Way invites you to join us at our Summer Soccer Camps to let us train your camper towards gaining essential soccer and life skills such as quick decision making.  Your kid will walk away with these skills in just a week or even just one day, you choose!  Panna hopes to see you and your little camper at DC Way’s Summer Soccer Camps.


Players at DC Way's Free Festival practicing quick decision making with a game of tic-tac-toe!

Players at DC Way's Free Festival practicing quick decision making with a game of tic-tac-toe!