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What is the SOCCER STARTS AT HOME® Philosophy?

The program involves parents encouraging young children ages 2-8 to perform fun physical exercises using their feet to manipulate a small soccer ball. This is done in the living room or yard, which is a nurturing and forgiving place with the ability to experiment and fail with no recourse. The home environment allows for these activities to be done with no advanced scheduling, no travel requirements, and at no cost.

What are the benefits?
  • Children can accelerate their brain (Cognitive) development to include their academic, social, emotional, and physical (motor) skills.
  • The program uses soccer skills mastery as it’s delivery mechanism, which sets the child up for early success when they join an organized youth soccer program.
  • Families can improve their relationships with their young children as a result of the home-based interactions while doing the program. Children have an instinctual need for a parents’s attention, approval, and praise, and this program provides that.
  • The program builds the child’s self-confidence, self-esteem, motivation, and overall fitness and coordination. In addition, participation in the program will help the child learn how to focus and pay attention, which is the key to learning.
How and why does this happen?
  • A human’s brain is developing at it’s fastest rate in their early years, and a youth’s brain is 85-90% developed by the end of the 5th year.
  • Historically, the development of motor (physical) and brain (cognitive) skills in children were viewed as independent processes involving different parts of the brain, with the cerebellum thought to be only responsible for motor functions such as balance and rhythm. Modern scientific developments have demonstrated, however, that the cerebellum is also involved in thinking, remembering, decision making, reading, controlling emotions and social skills. 
Is there scientific research to back up these claims?
  • Harvard University’s Dr. John Ratey, author of 13 books and one of the world’s leading researchers in exercise and brain development says that “the acquisition of skills- math skills, piano skills, soccer skills- and the encouragement to acquire skills is absolutely fundamental in the development of the brain. Exercise optimizes the brain and body and sets it up for learning. It produces growth factors, one of which is called BDNF, which I call ‘miracle-grow for the brain’ or brain fertilizer. Tom Byer’s Soccer Starts at Home® is opening the door for a complete rethink as to how we encourage children to learn sports.”
  • A Stanford University study showed that 5 year olds doing the Soccer Starts at Home® programming over an 8 week study period had improved focus, according to 93% of their parents.
  • A University of Houston study involved 500 children ages 5 and 6 with half of the children performed the Soccer Starts at Home® programming 15 to 20 minutes daily, while the other half did not (control group). Academic testing performed at the beginning and ending of the 12 week study showed that the Soccer Starts at Home® participants improved their Math and Reading scores between 3-4%, and the control group did not improve their scores. In addition, the Soccer Starts at Home® participants decreased their sedentary activity by 11.7%, whereas the control group did not.
  • Studies in Holland and Italy have shown that a change in soccer ball skill development had a positive impact on a child’s problem solving abilities. In fact, the greater the improvement in ball skill, the larger was the improvement in problem solving.

Watch the Growth!

Here is video compilation of one of Tom Byer’s sons as he progressed through various stages of ball mastery. He starts out as a 2 year-old in his house just learning the basic skills. This is the very beginning for him and he is just learning how to roll the ball around. The next stage shows him as a 3 year old on an outside field showing him with much better control of the ball. He is still several years away from playing on an organized team, but his ball mastery skills have improved significantly. The final clip shows him wearing the #10 jersey in a real game and how he is able to control the ball while under pressure from opponents. He is able to fairly easily dribble around 3 players and then successfully pass to his teammate.

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