Getting a child started in a new sport can be daunting. It feels like all the other parents know what's going on, when to sign up, and what to bring.
Here's a guide for East Bay parents whose goal is to give their child the opportunity to try soccer. See what I did there?
We talked to the experts at Bladium, an indoor soccer facility in Alameda, and they coached us on these tips. Read on to learn about their classes and others near you.
The first step is to get your hands on a soccer ball and bring it outside. Take it to the park. Get fancy and buy some small cones or even a goal that you can play around with. Kids love cones and balls. Keep it fun.
Group learning in soccer classes for little kids
When your child is ready for organized group activities, ie won't hang on your leg the entire time or run off into the wilderness, a class with an experienced coach teaching a proven curriculum will help them learn to love the game. Kids tend to enjoy soccer more when they are taught the fundamentals correctly. Players build their confidence in classes and then take their love for the game to the next level—short-sided scrimmages.
A class that leads up to scrimmages gets kids ready to join a recreational soccer team or league. We have listed the local leagues at the bottom of this guide. (Jump there >)
Where to find soccer classes for kids in the East Bay
Bladium – Alameda + Piedmont + San Leandro
The Lil’ Kickers soccer program is an award-winning child development program that uses soccer to help children ages 18 months to 12 years tackle important developmental milestones through age-appropriate and fun-filled activities. The program inspires kids to be active, strong, confident and well-balanced in order to unleash their awesome both on and off the field. Classes are 50-minutes and are led by highly trained, energetic coaches who engage kids and help maintain their enthusiasm by challenging and encouraging them to learn and accomplish new things – preparing them for school, play dates, team sports, and beyond. More than one million kids have participated in Lil’ Kickers across the country.
Special offer: Try a FREE Lil’ Kickers Class
ABSC – Albany and Berkeley
The Albany Berkeley Soccer Club runs a large recreational program for kids 4 and up. At age 8-10, kids can move to a more development-oriented competitive track if they want. For Under 5s, the class is an hour on Saturdays or Sundays. For Under 6s, there are games on Saturday (no weekday practice). the kids are on teams, matched up with others to play a game, after drills and playtime. And finally, at 7 and up, kids play on teams based on friends, skill, school or carpool and practice is 1-2 times per week dependent on the child's age, plus weekend games. ABSC use 4 fields in city of Albany and 11 fields in Berkeley. Get details on registration dates >>
Soccer Shots – Throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
Soccer Shots offers programs for kids 2-8, tailored to their developmental stage. Classes are for specific age windows and meet at locations like Ohlone Park, Codornices Park, Montclair Park, Lake Merritt, and more. See if a Soccer Shots class is starting soon near you in Alameda County; find Soccer Shots classes in Contra Costa County
Piedmont Recreation Department
In addition to offering Lil' Kickers classes provided by Bladium, Piedmont Rec has Parent/Child soccer classes and others for the preschool set. Browse the rec department website to see the listings.
Super Soccer Stars – Multiple locations
These weekly classes are all over the Bay Area for kids 2 and up. For 40-60 minutes, kids will learn the basics of dribbling and shooting in a non-competitive environment. Find a nearby class >
Soccer 2gether – Berkeley
With classes on Fridays and Saturdays for young children, Soccer 2gether teaches soccer skills in session-based classes. See the schedule >
SkyHawks Multi-Sport Camps & Clinics – El Cerrito + Kensington
Session-based classes for preschoolers and elementary school aged kids that introduce multiple sports to keep things interesting. One reader said of the soccer, basketball, and baseball class known as Tot Sport, “My 4 year old learned so much and each section was three weeks so he didn't get bored.” Learn more here >>
Kidz Love Soccer – Albany, Alameda, and Piedmont
Another franchise-style class with a proprietary soccer curriculum designed to teach kids the basic rules of the game and allow them to have fun with some structure in each class meeting. Learn more here >>
University Village – Albany
The “Cub Soccer” program for ages 3-5 teaches kicking and passing. Scrimmage begin as the children’s skills advance during the last 15 minutes of each class. Learn more here >>
How to kick it up a notch beyond Lil' Kickers-style classes at Bladium
During the course of the Lil' Kickers classes, those players who show a passion and potential for higher level play may move into the Skills Institute soccer classes for ages 5 to 12 years, to focus on soccer skills with higher level soccer coaches. Players have fun learning and improving technical and tactical soccer skills while tackling key developmental milestones.
Players learn the technical skill needed to thrive in league play. Players who wish to test their skill in league play have two options: Join a development Skills Institute Soccer League for instruction and short-sided scrimmaging, or join the Bladium Youth Leagues, both indoor and outdoor, to compete in levels from recreational to competitive. Those competitive level players may move up to the Bladium International Soccer Academy classes for the highest level of soccer training. Try a FREE Skills Institute Class
Try a soccer camp
Our Seasonal Camp Guides have many cool sports camps. Look for a multi-sports program like the one at Cal or a dedicated soccer camp like Footfire or ABSC.
East Bay Soccer Leagues for Recreational and Competitive Teams
We have personally found it difficult as rookie parents to know when sign-ups are required, so we recommend joining the email list of the league you would like to remind you.
Alameda Soccer Club
East Bay United/Bay Oaks Soccer Club (Alameda/Oakland/Emeryville)
Mavericks Soccer (Albany/Berkeley)
Montclair Soccer Club
Oakland Soccer Club
Piedmont Soccer Club
Special offer for competitive soccer players from Bladium
For those competitive players seeking improvement in technical skills, the Bladium International Soccer Academy (BISA) is the best option. Bladium International Soccer Academy (BISA) offers 11-13 week sessions (90-minute, twice a week classes) all year-round for players ages 6-16. The Academy focuses on group and individual technical development that improves the player’s skills in all facets of the game and provides world-class soccer training through our partnership with Global Image Sports. Players at this level are training to play with competitive clubs, and/or to improve skill level for Club play at high levels. Top players have the opportunity to be scouted by some of our 14 Professional Club affiliates during our Player ID events. Teams can book practice sessions with our high-level coaches for a Team-in-Training session. In addition, BISA offers camps for both competitive and recreational levels. Most are college bound and beyond. Get a FREE BISA Soccer Assessment
Where to buy soccer gear (new and used)
Thanks to Bladium for sponsoring this guide to soccer for kids in the East Bay. Call or email the Lil’ Kickers Coordinator to register today!
Lil’ Kickers Coordinator