To bring you an inside peek into their soccer classes at InBounds Training center in Glendale, Lil Kickers and I traded soccer classes for this honest review.
We signed up our four-year-old for the "Hopper" class and our two-year-old for the "Cottontails" class. (I'm a sucker for the cute names.)
Challenge: My four year old daughter is not, shall we say, the athletic type. She'd much prefer to hang out at the kitchen table, coloring in sparkly unicorns or dressing up as a imaginary characters. So I was interested to see how soccer classes would go.
My husband and I wanted to give it the old college try - expose her to sports, give her the opportunity to learn about playing on a team and sportsmanship, and all that good stuff.
Spoiler alert: I'm really impressed, and there is one thing I'd change.
1. The teachers are top notch.
(Has anyone else signed up for athletic programs where you were so bummed out about the caliber of the instructor leading the class? You don't have to worry about that here, so that's nice.)
I've now completed one entire session of soccer with Lil' Kickers and I've worked with them on two free trials class events for our readers, so I've gotten the chance to observe their teachers extensively.
I can say with confidence that literally all of their teachers are high-energy, friendly, skilled at soccer, and seem to enjoy their job.
A teacher can make or break the entire experience, so to me there is no more important quality in a program.
Our coaches for my two-year-old were Coach Victor, Coach Nick, and Coach Grace. It's not easy to lead a class of twelve two-year-olds who are going in twelve different directions, but they actually kept the majority of kids' attention for the majority of the time. (Truly a miraculous feat if you ask me.)
Rosie (the non athletic four-year-old) could often be found on the sidelines, gabbing with her new friend, doing anything BUT playing soccer. Week after week, her coach displayed patience and friendliness, trying to get Rosie engaged. And by the end, she was engaged in the class for the entire time.
2. The kids practice actual, specific soccer skills. (And they don't even realize it.)
Lil Kickers follows a set curriculum of games and activities that are age-appropriate for each class.
So in my two-year-old's class, we start by doing simple stretches followed by a soccer ball "dance" where the kids tap their feet on the ball and then the ground repeatedly.
They practiced kicking the ball into the goal, running backwards, games like "Freeze and Go", and building up towers of cones and knocking them down with the soccer ball.
Basically, the coaches transform each specific soccer skill into a fun little game for the kids, often including some kind of imaginary animal like a shark. The kids start to develop soccer skills in a fun and natural way.
3. It's FUN!
While the curriculum clearly revolves around soccer, the coaches pepper in special features that are just plain fun. Some examples:
-In the one year old class, I saw the instructors using colorful parachutes at the end of class that the kids were giddy over.
-Our two year old class started every day with each child introducing themselves and telling everyone what color dot they were sitting on or what they were going to dress up as for Halloween. (The perfect challenge for that age in front of a group.)
-On Halloween, all of the coaches and some of the kids dressed up in costume for practice. (Our coach was a pirate.)
-At the end of each class, there's a big group huddle and cheer.
-And of course, my kids' favorite - stamps for all at the end of class!
4. The facility is modern and convenient for parents.
In Bounds Training Center is a huge athletic facility that just laid brand new turf to make their programs even better. Parents can watch classes from the viewing counter while they browse wi-fi and enjoy their coffee. There's an upper balcony area for viewing, as well.
All in all, Lil Kickers is exactly what I'm looking for in a youth soccer program:
<<< Friendly, energetic instructors who teach specific soccer skills in a kid-appropriate way. >>>
It's not inexpensive, but you pay for what you get in this case.
So what is it that I would change?
I'm hoping Lil Kickers Milwaukee opens up some new locations to be more convenient for parents on the west and south sides of the city. Their current location in Glendale is two minutes from my house, so it's perfect for me. ;) But I know a lot of parents who are looking for great soccer classes closer to their home.
Check out our Instagram Story Highlights under "Athletics" to see images and videos from the Cottontails soccer class.