A lot will be said in the upcoming days, weeks, and years about how American soccer can improve. It's all a very important conversation, but at the same time, it also all deters from the most important point. The best thing our country can do to develop better players is to create a culture of playing soccer in the backyard. A player can only develop so much on the training field. The truest, deepest forms of connection with a soccer ball come in the moments of random play at recess, on the street, and in the backyard.
As a kid, my brother Andy and I would play a game called one-touch in our backyard. We would put two 5x4 (or something like that) goals about 20 yards apart. We would go to the local supermarket and buy a rubber ball you get in the big container in the paper towel aisle. Each player gets one touch of the ball in a row at all times. If the other player shoots it off you, that's your touch, and the other person gets to kick again. I LOVED playing one-touch with Andy. They are some of the happiest memories of my life, and helped develop my love for the game (and helped hone my technical skills, but I'll save that story for another day).
So I ask, what games did you play as a kid in the backyard? What games do you play with your children? Get in the Comments section and let everyone know.
Share, so other people can then take them into their own lives. The more we get people playing in the yard, the better our soccer culture will become.
Mike Foss: "We play a lot of 'Sweep the Leg.' My dad let me foul my brother on the backyard 1:1 all the time. He's so much more composed on the ball than I was."
@PhilSoc8: "Wall ball. Very fortunate to have had long side of garage abutting our yard."
Brian Straus: Growing up with a long flat driveway + garage doors with big square windows = years of forfeited allowance."
Andrew Wiebe: "I paid for replacement parts on the grill I used as a crossing/shooting target."
R.P. Kirtland: "I lived out in the country, no real friends around to play with. Used a field to practice hitting long balls in shin high grass."
Alex Rendon: "RIP light fixture above garage door"
John Tzanis: "some fast, one time passing games, you lose a point if your pass is off or can't return with one timer.. and this"
Erichir Por Larryson: "We played Muff. Muff is like HORSE...juggle as a group error = letter. Loser who gets to HORSE first bends over in goal while everyone takes shots from top of box or arc. If you hit or touch loser in goal...move up 5 yards and go again. Goal box was limit thou. Crafty players started with simple pass. Save the blast of a shot when you get to the 6. Letters assigned by vote...no letting ball fall when you could have saved another."
@MaxLegroom: "An incredible concrete retaining wall."
Phil Anaya: "We played a lot on the tennis courts (one side of the court)...made a goal and called it “the cage.” Allowed us to play after dark"
Cosas Buenas: "Wall pass any and everything available. Chimney, Horseshoe backstop, curbs. Having a hyper, ball obsessed dog helped dribbling, speed, megs"
Jordan Rickard: "I do soccer Monday’s with my kids (4 & 7). We play 1v1v1 with one goal you can score on from either side. 1 pt for a goal, 1 pt for a save."
Jason Anderson: "Spent a lot of time on target practice on the basketball court behind my house. Aiming at spots on backboard, trying to lob thru hoop, etc"
David Sansun: "Cuppies. Large group, one in goal, rest pair up, all vs all knockout tournament with last to score dropping out each round."
James: "Play all the time in our living room (call it the cage). 1v1 (w 3rd kid as goalie) using couch as goal. Also play a meg game. Pts for megs."
@FMLogos_rocheyb: "Keep-me-ups - 819 was my record (still is!)"
@Meiji_Q: "Soccer tennis"
Ethan Zombek: "my driveway was steep so it was a lot of kick it up and watch it roll back down"
Braxton King: "We played (still do) a ton of "soccer volleyball." At home it was with a net, but camping we'd use ropes and towels/shirts. Could play everywhere."
Liz: "Spray painted targets on both sides of the inside of the garage to practice passing, receiving, and turning on rainy days. (Sorry Mom and Dad!)
Joel Petterson: "Trampball: one goalie on the trampoline trying to stop everyone else from heading/volleying the ball onto the trampoline mat." editor's note... Joel, this sounds like a horrible idea. Kids, do not try this at home!
Mike: "Soccer tennis and 2v2 with shirts as goal markers.
Timmy: "2 touch. 1 GK, 1 shooter. GK kicks ball to shooter who has 1 touch to settle and 1 to shoot. Best out of 10. Then switch positions."
Kristan Heneage: "A game called 14-12. One person goes in goal, and the rest of the players go into the field. So everyone who starts the game outfield gets 12 points, and the goalkeeper gets 14. If you miss with a header/volley or its caught, you become the goalkeeper. Every time you are in the goal as goalie and you concede a volley you lose one point from your total, a header you lose two points. Once you lose all of your points, you are eliminated. Whoever is left at the end wins."
Ted Mechtenberg: "1986 - me and my two brothers played “world cup.” Converted old swing set into a goal. It was 1v1 with a goalie so all 3 of us could play."
@bdsmokey: "Barefoot backyard 1v1 with my little bro with a small beach ball. Crazy swerve, but we mastered it. Chain link posts for goals"
Rob Lepley: "We used to play a soccer version of hand ball against the the garage door."
Dan Hales: "No keeper 3v3, circular, flattened pop can as the ball, shopping basket as a net. Headers, vollies n speahies 1pt for head, 2 for volley, 3 for a special GK judges whether spesh or not."