Afraid of the ball

Discussion in 'SoCalScene' started by Surf Zombie, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. Surf Zombie

    Surf Zombie Bronze

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    About sixth months ago my younger child (2009) got a ball to the face kicked by an older kid during a warm up before a game. He got rocked pretty hard. Ever since that’s he has become afraid of being hit in the face during his games and practices.

    He still plays hard, but every time he gets in a situation where a ball is going to leave the ground and come anywhere near his head he’ll reflexively turn his body away from the ball and take himself out of the play for a few seconds.

    I figured it would eventually pass and he’d get over it but he hasn’t. Anyone ever dealt with a similar situation?
     
  2. espola

    espola Silver Elite

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    Start with easy heading practice using a lightweight soft-surface ball. There are several available on the market. Also, proper technique can be almost painless.
     
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  3. Surf Zombie

    Surf Zombie Bronze

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    Ok. Thank you.
     
  4. zebrafish

    zebrafish Silver

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    If the problem is headers, the soft ball thing is great--- but probably not much heading going on in an '09 player. You could also practice chest trapping-- it forces them to face a ball coming at them w/o flinching away.

    But what I assume you mean that your kid is flinching away from someone who is kicking the ball in their direction. I think that is tough.

    With my own kid I've tried to reinforce that the closer they get to the ball as a defender, the less likely they are to get hit in the face. If you're within a couple feet as a defender, you pretty much can't get hit in the face with the ball, no matter what happens. Once you are tentative and start backing off, that is prime face ball territory. But you can't avoid all situations where this might happen.

    Most of the time we have this conversation, it is in the context of a teammate getting nailed. Not my own kid.

    But you've done a good job at being patient. It may be something that will just take more time for a kid this age (8 yo) to get over.
     
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  5. Surf Zombie

    Surf Zombie Bronze

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    Thanks for the insight. My little guy is very fast and plays on the wing. It usually happens when he is running up field towards a defender who has the ball. If he can get there and make a challenge before the defender has time to clear it he is fine. It’s when he is in that zone 5-10 yards away and the ball is going to be cleared that he’ll duck and cover.
     
  6. Grace T.

    Grace T. Silver

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    My son just had this happen in futsal a month back (he's a keeper). He came in for a k-stop block and the hit was from 1 yard away and hard when the striker tried to chip him on a one v one...we thought for sure he'd have a concussion but we got lucky. Doc asked we rest him nonetheless a week, which we did (notwithstanding the tryout pressure I wrote about in the other thread). Next futsal game he does the same thing but flinches to the side on the shot....for a body block your chest has to be tall and big...easy goal against him. 1) be patient with him....talk to him it's going to happen and it's part of the game....ask him to talk about his fears, 2) with my son we modified the technique with the support of his trainer to make him feel more secure...rather than put 2 hands down to k-stop, he now puts one hand up to his face and one hand down towards his back leg....if a ball comes in because of the modified technique we told him who cares...when you are older and more ready you'll get back to it....what's important is that you feel confident, 3) when he does happen be patient but make clear it was an error.....it will take time to correct but at the same time it's important the player know it's not o.k. and soccer has some risks and that this is a point you need to work on (though we'll give you the time and space to grow), 4) practice practice practice with those chest blocks and maybe even a little between the sticks so he gets comfortable with balls flying at him (who knows he might be a keeper long term even and you can join our keepers parent union)...don't use a big leg at first....make sure the ball isn't fully inflated....if a ball hits him in the head and it isn't all that hard, all the better....he should grow less fearful the more he's exposed to it (with some kids it's the opposite but then you have a bigger problem long term), 5) get lot's of praise when he does show courage with the ball coming at him, 6) sometimes it's just maturity and time.
     
  7. Surf Zombie

    Surf Zombie Bronze

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    Great advice. Thanks so much.
     
  8. Grace T.

    Grace T. Silver

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    Oh one other point we didn't use but was given by a friend whose a B-level trainer for girls....you could cross train in tennis or baseball rec for a season....lot's of balls coming at you to make you more comfortable and increase coordination.
     
  9. coachrefparent

    coachrefparent Silver

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    Sounds like a smart kid. Leave it alone. Not sure what else he should do in that situation. He's not a keeper.
     
  10. Sheriff Joe

    Sheriff Joe Silver Elite

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    Very nice, informative post.
     
  11. smellycleats

    smellycleats Bronze

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    We have the same situation. Several posters have given you some good advice here, I have none to give. To most it would seem like an act of self-preservation and good common sense but it makes me cringe every time she does it. Looks weak.
     
  12. MWN

    MWN Silver Elite

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    My boy is a keeper and a few years ago while stealing ground and stopping a 1 on 1, took a ball to the ... well ... um ... balls from about a foot away. Stuck with him for a year or so. Eventually they forget after multiple positive experiences, training takes over and they get crazy again.
     
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  13. MyDaughtersAKeeper

    MyDaughtersAKeeper

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    This reminds me of something that happened a short time ago; I got mad, I mean really mad, at my daughter for turning away from a shot. She is a keeper and she went for self preservation over taking the shot to the face/body. Ball ended up in the back of the net. I was thinking about what I was going to say to her in the car. After a few minutes the little light went on in my head; NO ONE likes to get hit in the face. NO ONE. I reminded myself of how far she has come (she no longer accidentally stops balls with her face). It is natural to try to protect yourself. Over time, with lots and lots of practice this can be controlled.

    Keep in mind your kid's age, and watch a few games one or two age groups up; the wall ALWAYS gives. They always turn to protect themselves. Good luck to you and your kid.
     
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  14. timbuck

    timbuck

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    Reminds me of a bad soccer joke.
    Why doesn’t Cinderella play soccer?
    She’s always running from the ball!
     
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  15. rainbow_unicorn

    rainbow_unicorn Silver

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    It's natural for players to protect their head/privates when running at a ball that's about to be cleared...you'll see it all the time at the pro level. Teach him how to run into the ball at the last second with the side of his body facing the ball so that he can stick out his foot/sole to block the ball (and his arm/shoulder can be used to protect some of his head if he's leaning back a bit). And always stay on your feet...never jump.
     
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  16. MWN

    MWN Silver Elite

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    From a pure Laws of the Game stand point. At this level, most referees will not call a "handling" foul if the player uses his hands/arms to protect the head (there are some, but the vast majority won't). The advice we receive is using hands/arms to "protect" at the youth level (especially the no header ages) is not a "deliberate" attempt to handle the ball. Maybe start with concept that there is nothing wrong with putting hands in a defensive position in these 5-10 yard challenge situations as opposed to turning out of play.
     
  17. Overlap

    Overlap Silver

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    Scott Sterling? ...

     
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  18. socalkdg

    socalkdg Silver

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    Main keeper coach for my daughter has his own daughter on the team. Sterling is her nickname. Needless to say his daughter doesn't play keeper anymore.

    First time my daughter ever played keeper in a game was with Extra at a preseason tournament, gets a ball right the face, it pops off her face and goes over her head, she turns and catches the ball before it hits and goes in the goal. Stop play to stop the bleeding of her nose, and then play continues. Knew then that she had it in her to play keeper.
     
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  19. MWN

    MWN Silver Elite

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    I understand that Mr. Sterling quit soccer shortly thereafter:


    and took up volleyball:
     
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  20. coachrefparent

    coachrefparent Silver

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    And the spinning "butt save" from a defender actually works quite well, despite all the snickers and comments.
     

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