In New York City, it often feels like every week, not just January 16-20, is Soccer Coaches Week, as boys and girls starting as young as a year old can be seen chasing that recognizable, black and white ball in the parks, on the street, and at specialty classes, camps and teams all over town.  Don’t want your kiddo left behind?  It’s not too late!  Check out some of Red Tricycle’s favorite spots to master the internationally beloved game of soccer mere days after you first get the hang of that walking upright thing:

Super Soccer Stars
Various NYC locations
You know you’ve seen the multi-colored T-shirts, but did you know that Supper Soccer Stars, which hosts lessons, games and birthday parties, also offers a Pre-Soccer class for toddlers between the ages of 12 and 24 months?  (Thought we were kidding about that learning to kick while learning to walk thing, didn’t you?)  Kick & Play is a movement program for parents and their tots, exploring the new notion of self-propelled physical activity… while also developing early soccer skills, of course.

Chelsea Piers
23rd Street & Hudson River Park
Right behind Pre-Soccer is Micro-Soccer.  Future David Beckhams between the ages of 2 and 3 can begin learning to Bend It in a promised supportive and nurturing environment… with Mom and Dad by their side. Children age 3 and up who can separate without problems then have the option of moving into a Spikes class, where preschoolers run, play, improve muscle coordination and learn the concepts of teamwork and cooperation.

Kids In Sports
Various locations in New York City and Connecticut
When is a 1 year old not just a 1 year old?  When he or she is actually a Tiny Athlete!  At Kids In Sports, Tiny Athletes are introduced to a cross-section of physical activity in a Multi Sport format, where three consecutive weeks of learning soccer fundamentals share space with Baseball, Basketball, Floor Hockey, Football and Volleyball.  Open to kids up through 7, although all individual classes are grouped by age.

Soc Rock
Various locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens
2 and 3 year olds can also kick the ball around at Soc Rock, where founder and frequent instructor James Christie is a former pro player and current personal trainer.  Unlike other programs, his focus is on overall strength training and conditioning (yes, for 2 year olds, too) and on teaching skills that promote success in both sports and life.

Soccer by Coach Fher
Various locations
What better way to celebrate Soccer Coaches Week than by checking out a class by a coach proud enough of his methods to turn his name into a brand?  Argentinean native Shadrach Gonzalez Fher (see why the kids just call him Coach?) is certified in both sports training and Child CPR.  His classes are non-competitive, focused on fun, and offer the option of playing inside or outside (which means you get to decide where you want to sit and watch).

Carlos Oliviera Soccer Academy
Various locations in Manhattan and Queens
Another coach confident enough to stamp his name on the product, Carlos Oliviera teaches soccer the way it’s played in, to quote the very enthusiastic World Cup announcer in 2002, “Brahziiiiiillll!”  Open to boys and girls ages 2 ½ and up, COSA has just expanded its unique methodology and approach into the NYC public schools.

Not sure if soccer is the right sport for your family?  A multi-week commitment can be a bit much, especially in the winter, when just getting your little guy or girl into a snowsuit and out of the house can be considered ample exercise for the day – if not the lifetime.

In that case, consider trying out a class that’s one-time only, warm and, most importantly, free.  In the summertime, the NYC Parks & Recreation Department offers regular, hour long Tot Soccer Classes in Riverside Park for anyone age 5 and younger.  Make a note on your calendar and try to catch one in a few months.

Where do you take your budding soccer stars to practice their kick, shots, and passing?

— Alina Adams

photos courtesy Alina Adams and of the respective company’s facebook pages