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Soccer – a superb game for youngsters Children and youngsters today are not active enough as they have many choices (including computer, TV) that compete for their attention and may lead to lethargic lifestyles.

Soccer – a superb game for youngsters   

Children and youngsters today are not active enough as they have many choices (including computer, TV) that compete for their attention and may lead to lethargic lifestyles.

Soccer is a popular game, played by millions of young girls and boys (aged 6 to 18) across many continents. Physically, it is taxing sport as it involves accelerating, decelerating, jumping, cutting, pivoting, turning, heading and kicking the ball. Soccer places many demands on the technical and physical skills of the player. It can be a great workout and lots of fun. It is a good sport for maintaining health, fitness, strength and endurance. There are several health benefits that are attainable from this game.

Health benefits of soccer

Soccer benefits the overall fitness and reduces health risks considerably. Youth soccer from the age of 6 to 11 is typically about having fun, playing small sided matches such as 4 v 4 with no goal keepers, promoting lots of touches of the ball and player interaction on the pitch. It encourages youngsters to take regular exercise and reduces the risk factors associated with heart diseases. This game improves aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health of players. Heart works at its maximum capacity in this game. It also results in improved health due to shifts between walking, running and sprinting.

Soccer is an all-round form of practice because it keeps the pulse up and has many high-intensity actions. When you sprint, jump and tackle your opponents, you use all the fibers in your muscles. Regular exercise through this game lowers body fat and improves muscle tone. This sport builds strength, flexibility and endurance. It increases muscle and bone strength.

Soccer improves health profile

In a study published by the American College of Sports Medicine, researchers recruited a large group of prepubertal Spanish boys and followed them for more than three years. Those who regularly played soccer for at least three hours a week were compared to those who only engaged in regular in-school physical education of two, 45-minute sessions per week. Several health and athletic ability measurements were collected at the outset of the study period and at the conclusion. These included anaerobic capacity, running speed, forces exerted during a vertical jump, aerobic maximal power, and bone and lean mass.

Among the boys whose activity levels remained constant after three years, the soccer players showed more positive increases in anaerobic capacity (7 percent more), total lean body mass (6 percent more), and total bone mineral density (more than 33 percent more) than the control group. Conversely, those in the less active group had significantly increased their percentage of body fat by the end of the study period.

The study pointed that bone tissue is more responsive to exercise during the prepubertal growth spurt. The results of the study showed that the soccer group not only increased whole body bone mineral density, but also had higher regional measures in areas such as the lumbar spine (13 percent) and the femoral neck in the hip (10 percent). These increases correlated statistically to increases in other fitness factors such as anaerobic capacity and force generated during jumping.

Social benefits of soccer

Youngsters need an opportunity to learn life skills to build their future. Participation in an organized soccer school or club can bring tremendous benefits to children and youngsters. Soccer can help increase self esteem of players that feeds their self talk which ultimately drives their performance. It promotes a healthy attitude towards the game and then this attitude further continues with youngsters into their adult life.

Mixing with others, working as a team member, contributing through individual effort to a collective goal, experiencing the highs and lows, picking each other up, competition, striving to be the best, aiming to win, supporting and helping others are all by products of playing soccer.

Young boys and girls who play soccer may also enjoy watching soccer. Not only will they be able to learn more about the game but they may find excellent role models. These youngsters are more likely to learn to proper eating habits and manage to think in terms of which foods will do the most good for them.

Other benefits include:

  • Improves the academic performance of the child
  • Teaches coordination and to think on-the-go
  • Teaches discipline
  • Helps to increase skills in concentration, persistence and self-discipline
  • Is a great way to socialize with friends
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Learn about equality of sex when boys and girls play together as equals
  • Is relatively easy to learn, so beginners can easily join in and play basic soccer for recreation
  • Is an international sport.
Soccer is a game of skill and has many benefits, especially for those who play the game. Playing soccer doesn’t just improve the health of a child but it also has many social and other benefits that are useful for future life. Health benefits include enhanced cardio-respiratory fitness, increased muscular strength and endurance, and favorable cholesterol and other profiles, which further prevent heart diseases. All youngsters no mater what their skill level should be encouraged to play soccer, as this will stand them in good stead later on in life.

  • www.news-medical.net/?id=5540
  • www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=89325
  • www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Soccer?Open