Suit Up for Soccer

The whats, whens, and hows of getting started in soccer.

Benefits of Soccer

More than 18 million children participate in soccer leagues and programs each year, making it the most popular and fastest-growing youth sport in the United States today, according to the United States Youth Soccer Association (USYSA). Why is it so popular? Here are three reasons:

1. It's easy to learn. Children don't need to be taught to run or kick a ball (okay, running and kicking in the right direction does take some work), and the object of knocking the ball through a goal is simple to grasp.

2. It doesn't discriminate. Boys and girls of all shapes and sizes can play.

3. It's an excellent form of exercise. Its continuous action helps kids build stamina, strengthen their heart and muscles, and develop coordination, says David T. Bernhardt, MD, FAAP, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Soccer can also help keep kids fit and trim -- an important benefit now that one in every five children in America is overweight. Studies show that children who play organized sports, such as soccer, at an early age are more likely than nonathletes to adopt healthy habits that stick for life.

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