What is Upward Soccer?
Upward sports was originally started in 1995 by Caz McCaslin  (with the upward soccer branch being integrated in 2000) and has quickly risen to become the "world's largest Christian sports league for children" as you may have seen already it covers not only upward soccer leagues but baseball, basketball, cheerleading and other major sports as well.
- What is Upward Soccer?
- Age Groups Involved
- Cost & Pricing for Leagues & Soccer Camps
- When Does it Start & How Long For?
- Soccer Uniform and Equipment
- The Game Rules
The fundamental program of upward soccer initiated in 2000 and is based on the concept of "healthy" competition and not the gruelling type of competitive nature you get with modern leagues, placing unnecessary stress on kids (and potentially on parents). But, it is also much more than a high class sports set up, it is a program to teach kids morals and important life values -- whereby the children are entitled to equal playing time regardless of ability. This being said, there is still a 'competitive' edge to the game soccer teams do want to win.
From just last year (2013) almost 2, 500 churches got involved to host upward soccer leagues across all U.S. states as well as Canada with over 480,000 children getting involved with a whole load of volunteers too: coaches, referees etc. (approximately again "half a million").
Upward soccer Coaches
They take a unique and positive approach to managing their young group of players -- which is slightly differently from most competitive leagues. They will address each player individually to buildup their confidence and focus on preaching sportsmanship and won't ever yell at your child. The best part is, anyone can get involved: whether your kid has very little experience at playing football or has the potential to be a pro.
In all, it is just about the experience -- the get together of friends and providing a positive experience for both families and the kids. It is not trying to produce professional competitive players, it is aimed at producing good well rounded individuals through the means of playing soccer.
What are the Upward Soccer Age Groups?
The program is targeted at kids (both girls and boys) who are between the school years of K5 and second graders as well as a separate scheme for the older kids between third and sixth graders. The only real difference that comes with the separate lower and upper groups is the size of the football that is being used.
So potentially your child could be involved in the upwards soccer program from around the age of 3 or 4 until around 11 or 12 (it very much depends on the local church institution in place and their guidelines which they've set), so a good seven years of being made into a very decent and healthy soccer player. But, more importantly the program acts as a great guideline to mould a good solid and happy young person.
The K5 to 2nd graders will use a size three football to play matches and train with whereas the 3rd to 6th graders will use a size four football. Beyond that they will leave the upward soccer program and use a size five (adult) football.
How Much Does Upward Soccer Cost?
It depends on your local church establishment and its registration fees, be sure to contact to locate your closest soccer camp and league for more details. However, generally speaking it shouldn't be more than the $100 mark and with this you get the unique upward soccer uniform which consists of the jersey, shorts and socks.
There are also scholarships available for this soccer program as well. This is available when the child's parent has been deployed overseas with the US military also you will find most leagues will also cover the cost for low income families -- however please be sure to contact your local upwards soccer league for specific details on these scholarships as they will differ slightly from one to the other.
When Does Upward Soccer Start?
The season essentially consists of two months of September and October with the specific dates being varied between different states. For instance as with the video above, Spring Creek starts on the 7th September when the players are first introduced to the coach where the upward soccer evaluation will begin.
What is the upward soccer evaluation?
It's not what you think and is a rather misleading name in truth. It's not a tryout to see if your kid is good enough to play for our team, like most competitive football is. Instead, the idea is to build balanced teams, that are all around equally good in nature. Then from there, they are like a little 'band of people' who are encouraged to help one another out to improve their soccer skills as a whole.
It will then run on to the end of October. The training schedule is aimed to be flexibile and as family orientated as possible with a 60 minutes practice session as well as a 60 minutes match time every week. It is designed not to be too overbearing for a modern day busy family. Again, exactly when these times will happen is varied on the soccer camp but the matches usually occur on a saturday.
The Upward Soccer Practice Drills
These will involve honing all aspects of a soccer player from dribbling to passing -- everything will be covered in a fun and engaging manner. There's likely to be cones and goal posts involved in certain training sessions and football games such as 'soccer tennis'. They aren't designed to be too physically gruelling.
Soccer Uniforms Sizes & Accessories
For upward soccer 2014 the uniform colors are to be royal blue and gray (this is from 7/1/2013 to 6/30/2014) this comes free with the registration and you will also get a range of other kid soccer player items such as a water bottle, car magnet, the 'Big' story DVD, poster and parent's guide (which we will discuss in more detail below) and there will also be a special surprise end of season award. You can also visit the upward team shop online though if you are after additional gear -- they have everything from personalized headwear to pens .
To look after the kit all that is required is you give it a wash on colors and gentle with cold water. No ironing or tumble drying. Just leave out to line dry.
The Unique Soccer Rules
As you can see from the videos and pics featured throughout it is not played in the traditional soccer manner. You will see it is a "4 Versus 4" scenario with no goalkeepers . The idea being here is that everyone will 'have a touch of the ball more frequently' and have more goal scoring opportunities - this is beneficial on many levels for their growth as a soccer player and has been proven in various evidence based studies.
Soccer Skill Improvements:
- Better 'Touch' - this is referred to as the first touch of the ball to get the soccer ball under control from a pass.
- Improved Vision - a visual understanding of the game going on around a player -- the ability to see where certain goal scoring and passing opportunities are available.
- Passing Ability - in four a side football possession is crucial to being successful and to ensure that is the case, a player's passing skill must be keen.
- Faster Reactions - as there is always something happening with four a side soccer, as a player you have to constantly have your wits about you and can't ease up -- moreover, with this your reading of the game will improve as well.
... and a whole lot more. Again, with the case of no keeper the same principles apply, more touches of the ball, more chances and opportunities occur. You get more details over the specific rules with the parent's upward soccer guide but the main principle rules of soccer applies.
Upward Soccer Field Dimensions
With regards to the 'pitch size' it can obviously vary depending on the facilities available (whether they be outdoor or indoor) this being said the optimal set is at 60 by 100 feet. The field can be marked out by cones or lines (two touch lines that run lengthways and two goal lines) and a center circles (with a 10 feet radius would be ideal). Unlike a normal pitcht there is no goal line with a penalty area although there should be a penalty spot with a radius of twelve inches and the same with each corner spot. The goal should stand at around 2.5 x 6 feet.