Does Your Child Watch Soccer?

How many players out there have taken a deep breath before a free kick with their legs wide, trying to imitate Cristiano Ronaldo? How many players have tried the Ronaldinho no look pass or snake fake? How many players in the past have tried to perfect their jukes so they could look like Lionel Messi on the pitch?  

Everyone who’s imitated a professional soccer player has seen that player attempt and successfully execute their actions in a game environment.  Unfortunately, that’s all going away now that younger generations are no longer concerned about watching the professional game.  

“Growing up, all my friends watched soccer and they still do, “said Juan Gonzalez, coach for the U11 and U12 boys. “The newer generations are more into social media than actually watching something productive. Yes, they’ll watch highlights on social media, but I think an athlete could benefit a lot from actually watching a full game.” 

According to Common Sense Media, every day, teens spend an average of nine hours online and children ages 8-12 spend an average of six hours. It’s a topic very common among our younger generation. Many companies try and create a positive environment for children online by making positive games, applications, and websites, but most children will always drift back to their everyday norms. Games, funny Instagram posts, messaging their friends online.  

Throughout the last month, I decided to ask 40 players around the area, “Do you watch football (soccer) on a consistent basis?” Among all, only 11 replied yes. I also asked 60 players about watching television. Most said, “I don’t watch that much television, but sometimes dad watches basketball, football (American), hockey, or baseball.” 

Why Watching Professional Football is Important:

Studies say that watching professional sports improves your motor skills. A lot of planning, visualization, and learning is done while watching. If your child has a favorite player, he/she will imitate that athletes body movements, tricks, and mannerisms. Around our community, active football (soccer) players born around 2005-2012 watch other professional sports at home or online rather than the one they play – football/soccer. 

“Now a days, you have NBC Sports, Fox Sports, ESPN+, and other platforms that are at most players’ disposal,” said goalkeeper director Nick Weinstein. “When I was younger, a lot of these games weren’t on TV. You had to search them online. I think the off ball movement is so visible while watching live sports and all these young players could benefit from watching that. My brother, who currently plays college soccer, watches the professional game in order to tactically understand the value of player’s movements.”  

David Ezell, licensed professional counselor and clinical director and CEO of therapy provider Darien Wellness, told NBC news: Adult humans have specialized neurons in their brains called mirror neurons that allow us to understand points of view outside of our own. These neurons enable us to put ourselves in another person’s shoes and imagine what they are going through in a particular moment (- David Ezell interview with NBC News).

Watching Professional soccer would trigger these neurons and improve each player's style of play, said Joe Funicello, CEO and Director of SoccerViza.  

“I think the most important take away from watching a professional soccer game,” said Funicello, “is for kids to find out who their favorite players are and why. As a child, after watching a movie or a favorite player, you go outside, and utilize those creative juices to start to make believe you are that player or movie star. It’s cool to you, you enjoy it, and your passionate about it. I don’t think it’s so much about movements but instead, it’s about finding someone at a young age that you try to idolize and make you want to practice what they’re doing.” 

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