Are you itching to be a Soccer Parent? You don’t have to wait for the wonderful world of weekend tournaments, pizza parties and participation trophies—the fun can start as early as age 12 months! All your tiny kicker needs is their first pair of cleats (or at least comfortable sneakers) and the happy smiles will soon follow. Scroll down to find a great list of Bay Area spots for the tiniest ones to get in on the world’s favorite game.
SFF Soccer Juniors
Top-quality coaches (including current and former collegiate players) lead soccer-based games to promote physical activity, develop confidence and improve coordination. Saturday morning classes are divided into four age groups with the youngest class helping kiddos become comfortable with a ball at their feet by using imaginative fun games, including obstacle courses. Heard of Tough Mudder? Well, at SFF Soccer, your kids can do a soccer-based Tough Toddler, wander through a soccer rainforest or go on a soccer treasure hunt. As kids get older, classes introduce fundamentals, build on basic skills and improve understanding of the game and team play.
Fun Fact: Kids can’t run off! All classes are held on a private gated field made of top-quality FIFA grade synthetic grass. After class, why not sip on a coffee (or maybe a beer or sangria?) and grab a bite to eat at one of the many food trucks at Spark Social SF.
Where: 701 Mission Bay Blvd., San Francisco
Age: 18 months to 6
Super Soccer Stars
Small class sizes at Super Soccer Stars ensure each child gets individual instruction. Age-specific programs, starting with a Parent & Me class for children 12-24 months, features adorable puppets (Mimi & Pepe!) and allows tots to balance, run, kick and play. As kids age, they advance to dribbling and shooting activities using fun imagery. For example, one week, your child will help plant a garden, while the next, they may travel to space or have a firetruck adventure. By age 4-5, classes focus on body movement with the ball while the concepts of teammates and teamwork are also introduced.
Fun Fact: Super Soccer Stars also offer private sessions where coaches come to you, anywhere and anytime to fit your schedule.
Where: Various locations throughout San Francisco, East Bay, North Bay and South Bay
Age: 12 months to 12
Locally owned with various locations all over San Francisco (sometimes even at the Zoo!), SF Tots teaches a variety of age groups. Classes start at 18 months and teach fundamental motor skills, socialization and coordination through story-based games, including props (think colorful scarves, hula hoops and pool noodles). Kids progress into advanced motor skills, gain independence and learn basic soccer skills like dribbling and kicking. Eventually, they move to scrimmages and the rules of soccer.
Fun Fact: SF Tots also run a basketball program for children 2 1/2 to 6
Where: Various locations in San Francisco
Age:18 months to 6
As a Lil' Spurs player, youngsters are introduced to soccer, develop a love for the game and understand the importance of being a healthy athlete. Young players also have a unique opportunity to grow within a club through a recreational or pre-competitive soccer pathway.
Fun Fact: Within the Spurs FC family, current Spurs FC players assist Lil' Spurs classes, thereby creating mentorship opportunities for older players while giving back to the community and ensuring a low coach-to-player ratio for the youngest players.
Where: Tassajara Park, El Cerrito
Ages: 3 to 5
This national organization has soccer programs in over 200 territories across 37 states and Canada. Soccer Shots focuses on skill-building, a healthy lifestyle and character development. One week, the focus may be respect, while the next—teamwork or confidence. Three programs are offered: Mini (2-3), Classic (3-5), Premier (5-8).
Fun Fact: The business is consistently recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as the #1 Children’s Fitness Franchise in the U.S.
Where: After a successful summer at Cedar Rose Park in Berkeley, Soccer Shots expanded to Montclair Park in Oakland and will soon serve sites in Marin and San Francisco.
Ages: 2 to 8
Whether you've got a youngster who wants to play soccer like their older sibling, or an older sibling not quite ready for a competitive team, SoccerKids’ year-round classes are just what you need. With a maximum class size of 15 kids, plentiful dates and times to fit any schedule and coaches' bios to check out, SoccerKids makes it easy to inspire your future Cristiano.
Fun Fact: SoccerKids also offers TeeBallKids and BasketballKids! Why not try all three?
Where: Various locations throughout San Francisco and Marin
Ages: 2 ½ to 7
This program wants kids to be good teammates—on and off the soccer field. With three locations in the Bay Area, Lil’ Kickers truly focus on child development by using soccer to help kids tackle key developmental milestones. At 18 months, your little one will start in the Bunnies class, where they'll learn balance and coordination while also running, playing as a group and kicking the ball. Micro classes are offered at age four, and while they are non-competitive, they are geared towards intermediate players and progressively introduce proper soccer skills.
Fun Fact: The curriculum at Lil’ Kickers was created by child development experts who tailor classes to match how kids learn at different ages.
Bladium Sports & Fitness Club
800 West Tower Ave., Bldg. 40, Alameda
864 Rollins Rd., Burlingame
East Bay Sports 2411 Old Crow Canyon Rd., San Ramon
Age: 18 months to 7
Kidz Love Soccer
Winning and losing are a big part of American culture. Kidz Love Soccer offers an unconventional approach to sports based on sportsmanship, effort, learning and fun! Not interested in producing the next Lionel Messi or Mia Hamm, as their name suggests, Kids Love Soccer want their players to love and be good at sports. Kidz Love Soccer teaches the fundamentals of the game through imaginative play and age-appropriate curriculum. The program starts with a Mommy/Daddy and Me class (2 to 3-year-olds) and progresses to pre-soccer and tot soccer. At age 5, classes focus on techniques, teamwork, skills and scrimmages.
Fun Fact: At Kidz Love Soccer, the score is always Fun to Fun!
Where: Brentwood, Milpitas, Santa Clara, Dublin, Mountain View, Pleasanton, Palo Alto, Newark, Concord, San RAMON, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Castro Valley, Lafayette
Ages: 2 to 12
featured photo by the author