Posted On July 30, 2014 by PUSC
FIFA World Cup 2014 proved that while the U.S. still has some catching up to do, it has a lot of potential to be a leader in the world of soccer. In his post for the Press Enterprise, Jim Alexander recounts a discussion with Chivas USA Captain Carlos Bocanegra about the team’s 2-1 loss to Belgium. Despite the defeat, both he and Bocanegra are optimistic about the future of American soccer, especially since a lot more kids are getting exposed to the sport at an early age:
But if the most prosperous nation in the world soccer fraternity is eventually going to back up its resources with appropriate results on the game’s largest stage, the talent level will have to rise markedly, and it’s likely going to have to be today’s youngsters who ultimately make it happen. Some might even be involved in the AYSO National Games currently taking place in Riverside and in Torrance.
To get ahead of the international competition, USA’s future Chivas players must train wherever and as often as they can. A youth soccer organization like Placer United can provide such an opportunity by organizing Rocklin soccer camps, clinics, and tournaments for kids aged five and up. These venues enable young athletes to learn the ropes with the help of seasoned soccer professionals, which should serve them well as they hone their skills and master essential techniques. One particular skill young soccer players need to learn is ‘heading’: striking or passing a ball using the player’s forehead.
Heading is essential for both defensive and offensive strategies in the field, as it is the only way to clear the ball far away and out of the reach of opponents. That said, this skill is not without hazard. Heading is a major cause of head concussions in both the 2014 World Cup and other minor leagues. While heading injuries occur mostly due to improper form or excessive force, heading can also put players in direct contact with other players, often with damaging results.
The correct way for a player to head a soccer ball is to use the back and stomach muscles. As the ball approaches, the player’s back must be arched so that it lands between the eyes and above the hairline. Once contact is made, the player must then lean slightly forward to force the ball away. Timing is extremely important to pull this off, which is something kids can learn by participating in Rocklin indoor soccer clinics aimed at developing coordination, agility, speed, balance, and strength, among other things.
As more kids develop this skill, fans of the sport can only look forward to a bright future for American soccer.
(Source: COLUMN: U.S. soccer’s future bright … but when does it arrive?, The Press Enterprise, July 2, 2014)