4 Benefits of Soccer For Kids (with Adaptations for Disability Inclusion)

 In Adapting to Special Needs, Parent Resources, Youth Sports and Athletics

soccer-3Looking for a fun sport for your child? Today, we’ll be looking at the benefits of the sport that’s played by 240 million people around the world…Soccer!

What are the benefits of soccer for kids? In this post, we’ll look at four main benefits of soccer for kids, and we’ll also offer a few adaptation ideas for children who may need different accommodations.

Key Benefits of Soccer for Kids

    1. Soccer is great physical exercise for kids: Playing soccer offers children the opportunity to exercise and strengthen the whole body. It supports cardiovascular health, increases coordination, improves physical strength and endurance, and enhances flexibility.  If you’re looking for a sport that will give your child a chance to work on whole-body health, the health benefits of soccer for kids make it an excellent choice.
    1. Soccer is a team sport: Team sports, like soccer, are cooperative sports. Cooperative sports help developing kids learn valuable lessons about sharing, team-building, and working together to accomplish a goal.  Soccer is an inclusive sport by nature – everyone on the team has to participate. Being part of a team also helps improve kids’ self-confidence and self-esteem, and offers valuable lessons that kids will take with them throughout their lives.
    1. Benefits of Soccer for Kids | CoachArtSoccer helps kids get social: Whether your child is very outgoing or really shy, one of the benefits of soccer for kids is that it is a social activity. In fact, it’s difficult to play the sport without interacting with others. For this reason, it can be a wonderful choice for children who struggle with shyness to help them develop new friendships and build their social skills in a way that is fun, natural, and doesn’t make the child feel pressured.
  1. Soccer is fun: Yes, it’s great physical exercise and kids will learn valuable skills in teamwork, following instructions, concentration, and dedication, but best of all, soccer is a whole lot of fun for kids at any level!

Soccer Adaptations for Kids Who Need Different Accommodations

Adaptations to the rules of the game, and altering equipment (such as a larger or softer ball) can be a great way to ensure that every child can participate and have fun while working on new skills.

Since 2002, CoachArt has provided free lessons in arts and athletics for children impacted by chronic illness. Some of the inclusions tips we’ll be sharing are from our work with children of different abilities, and we’ve added some additional resources to help modify specific outdoor activities for kids. These adaptations are suggestions; accommodations for children should always be considered individually. Whenever appropriate, speak with your child’s doctor prior to participation in a new activity and, if necessary, obtain the doctor’s written consent.

General Inclusion Tips and Modifications for Kids Who Need Different Accommodations:


soccer-wheelchairbInclusion Tips and Modifications:

  • Always let your students try-never assume they can’t do something.
  • Work with students to adapt to their abilities (ie: Players may hold the ball in their lap for periods of movement).
  • Create new rules if you recognize a limitation (ie: if a child cannot bounce a ball, allow them to instead have to touch their wheels before having to pass the ball).
  • Limit amount of quick wheelchair movements to prevent exhaustion and blisters.
  • Practice sports indoors or on dirt ground for easier maneuvering (avoid grass).
  • Utilize the STEPS principle (Space, Task, Equipment, People, and Safety), to ensure that you are thinking through all the different ways of how to adapt lessons to integrate children with disabilities.

Communication Tips:

  • Whenever possible, put yourself at eye level to facilitate conversation by sitting in a chair or crouching down.
  • Do not speak loudly and/or slowly to an individual using a wheelchair unless you know that doing so is necessary to communicate.
  • Always ask permission before pushing somebody’s wheelchair.
  • Make conversation with students when you push their wheelchairs, just as you would if you were walking with a student who does not use a wheelchair.


Inclusion Tips and Modifications:

  • You can use brightly colored markers and equipment as appropriate.
  • Allow time for the visually impaired child to explore the site and be comfortable with using the equipment.
  • For activities using balls, consider a ball with bells for easier tracking.
  • Use larger and/or softer materials as appropriate.  
  • Reduce the size of playing space as appropriate.
  • If appropriate, assign a buddy for support in group activities.  


  1. Are you prepared to provide the students with verbal directions about all parts of the activity?
  2. Is the space clear to allow for easier movement?
  3. Are frequently used resources kept in the same accessible place, and labeled?
  4. Have you taken time to allow the child to explore in a way that’s helpful for them?


Hearing loss is the most common disability in the U.S. 3 out of every 100 school-age kids has a significant hearing loss.

Inclusion Tips and Modifications:

  • Obtain student’s attention prior to speaking
  • Reduce auditory distractions (background noise)
  • Enhance speech reading conditions (avoid hands in front of the face, mustaches well-trimmed, no gum chewing)
  • Face your students and make eye contact when speaking. Clearly, enunciate speech
  • As a general rule, always stand close to the student(s) hard of hearing when giving instructions
  • Use of visual supplements (predetermined visual signals or signs, whiteboards, or visual charts).
  • Do not exaggerate your lip movements, but slowing down a little may help some students.
  • Use facial expressions, gestures and body language to help convey your message, but don’t overdo it.
  • Repeat others comments and/or questions before responding to make sure Hard of Hearing student heard.


Inclusion Tips and Modifications:

  • Check in with the child, and offer a rest break from activity if necessary.
  • Have the child’s inhaler nearby and ready to be used.
  • If a child is uncomfortable with activities that include running, consider a slower pace or for group games, try a position that requires less running if necessary. 

Understand Potential Asthma Triggers:

  • Rigorous exercise
  • Dust
  • Animal proteins
  • Fungi
  • Pollen
  • House mites


Inclusion Tips and Modifications:

When speaking with people who have difficulties with speech, you should:

  • Be patient- don’t rush them or finish their sentences.
  • Always ensure you understand what the person has said before proceeding.
  • Ask the student, if necessary, to repeat what they have said or write it down.
  • Consider working out a better way of communicating with each other- use pictures, diagrams, and drawings to make or clarify your point.
  • During group activities, allow the use of predetermined hand signals if it is helpful for a child.


Inclusion Tips and Modifications:

  • If young people have difficulty throwing or sending a ball by hand try using a chute, plastic tube or a piece of folded board.
  • You can even use a Velcro mitt or makeshift glove to help retain a firm grip.
  • Athletic tape and an Ace bandage wrap are two simple solutions to maintain a proper grip. Use the lightest possible bat or racquet
  • Orthopedic racquet holders and “grasping gloves” are available if more support is required.
  • Modification of game rules to include one-hand or two-hand involvement if necessary.
  • Modify equipment, such as larger or softer materials as needed.


Inclusion Tips and Modifications:

  • Repeat instructions
  • Provide frequent feedback
  • Break down tasks into smaller steps
  • Display rules
  • Prepare students for transitions
  • Reduce distractions
  • Buddy student up with a strong student or volunteer
  • Find out the student’s strengths and emphasize them
  • Be flexible about expectations
  • Seek advice from parents/guardians
  • Be patient

Types of Cognitive Impairment:

  • Difficulty Processing Information (Sensory Processing Disorder)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Down Syndrome
  • Developmental Delay


  1. If possible, offer a volunteer buddy if extra support is needed. This gives every child the chance to work on cooperative and teamwork skills.
  2. When working in groups, discuss with the group what modifications are going to be made to the game, sport or activity.
  3. Be prepared to field questions so that all participants understand and feel included in the process.

Additional Resources for Adapting for Special Needs:

Manchester University offers a comprehensive guide to adapting soccer instruction for kids with physical disabilities that is an excellent guide to inclusive play so that everyone can experience the benefits of soccer for kids.

PE Central offers several general adaptation suggestions for specific activities with kids who need different accommodations.

CoachArt Special Needs Inclusion offers tips for communicating with children impacted by chronic illness, and inclusion tips for kids who need different accommodations.

Are you looking for a fun sport for your child to get involved with? As we have seen, the benefits of soccer for kids are numerous! It’s fun to play, can be adapted to include all children, and it is an excellent physical exercise that improves cardiovascular health, increases coordination, improves physical strength, and enhances flexibility. Like other group sports, soccer offers kids a chance to work on team-building skills, improves self-confidence and self-esteem, and enhances a child’s social connections and interactions. We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the benefits of soccer for kids – the sport that’s played by 240 million people around the world!

CoachArt Soccer Clubs for Kids Impacted by Chronic Illness:

CoachArt Clubs are designed to help kids with chronic illnesses (and their siblings) become part of a special team focused on providing chronically ill children with enriching athletic experiences in a supportive team environment. CoachArt Clubs create unique multi-week experiences where children form a bond with fellow participants while gaining valuable skills in the activity of their choice. Soccer is a favorite club of CoachArt students that we have offered many times for our students in the Los Angeles Area and San Francisco Bay Area.

In the month of March, 2019, CoachArt has partnered with the Addidas complex’ Urban Futsal LA to bring together an indoor-soccer program just in time for the season! CoachArt clubs offer kids of all levels the opportunity to play, with no experience necessary, just the desire to have fun!

This brief video from Urban Futsal Soccer Club features CoachArt kids practicing their soccer skills with encouragement and instruction from volunteer CoachArt coach, Pristina.

Starting March 23rd, 2019, CoachArt will be be offering our first soccer clinic for San Diego CoachArt students where students will learn the basics of soccer with the help of Wing Keepers International! We will practice drills, exercises, and games in an adaptive, fun environment.



10 Local Resources for Parents of Kids with Chronic Illnesses in Los Angeles | CoachArtCoachArt offers free art and athletic lessons to chronically ill children and their siblings between the ages of 5-18 in Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, and San Diego. If your child has been diagnosed with a chronic condition, we invite you to fill out a student eligibility form or get in touch to learn if CoachArt is right for your child.

CoachArt creates a transformative arts and athletics community for families impacted by childhood chronic illness. Since 2001, CoachArt has matched volunteer coaches with kids for free one-on-one or group lessons in arts and athletics. We invite you to get involved!

Has your child played soccer? What benefits of soccer for kids have you noticed? We’d love to hear from you. Please share your experience with us in the comments.

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