What is Pickup Soccer?

Soccer is widely known as the game involving 22 players on a massively-sized pitch, where the representatives of either side try to score more goals than their opponent.

The matches you see broadcast on television with huge fanbases watching eagerly in anticipation fit this description perfectly, as the competition is incredibly fierce.

In addition to that…

Players have to abide by certain game rules which means that fixtures only play out for a certain duration of time – typically 90 minutes (i.e. 45 minutes for each half of a match).

Now, the picture you’ve just envisioned of soccer isn’t the only one out there!

And that’s because there are so many other ways in which the world’s most popular sport can be enjoyed.

One of these is pickup soccer – our topic of discussion for today’s article.

If you’re fairly new to the sport then you’re probably wondering what pickup soccer is.

Then wonder no more, because we’re going to explain it very nature and what exactly it entails.

So, let’s begin with a basic description.

Pickup soccer is a type of game where players of any age or skill level can freely enjoy a soccer kickabout without the pressure or instruction of a coach, nor the direction that a set of rules would have in place. Pickup games are typically played purely for entertainment and fun.

Read on to get the full low down.


How do you play pickup soccer?

This is a good question, and you’ll be surprised to hear the answer to it!

Anyway, the truth is that there’s no defined right or wrong way of playing pickup soccer.

pickup soccer - can be played in different ways

It centers on players having the freedom to express themselves with the soccer ball, so different groups of people could choose to play pickup soccer in different ways.

Just think about it this way…

Let’s say two different individuals are presented with a mathematical question.

One person could have their own preferred method for solving the query, perhaps using a combination of algebra and basic addition.

Conversely, the second individual may choose to solve the question by using a calculator!

Ultimately, there’s no correct or incorrect way of arriving at the solution in both of these cases, and the same sort of logic can be applied when it comes to how casual soccer should be played.

So, for example, you could choose to go with a bunch of your friends to the local park and play pickup soccer there, using sweaters and jumpers as make-shift goal posts if you choose to do so.

On the other hand, another person may decide to play pickup on a quiet street, using a ball bounce back tool or even by making a nearby lamp post a shooting target.

The only thing you really need to play soccer for fun is a spherical ball, and even then, it doesn’t have to be made of the finest material.

As long as it’s round and not painful for your feet to kick, then you’re good to go!


What are the benefits of pickup soccer?

Of course, playing pickup soccer from time to time does have its advantages.

Let’s now point out a few of them.


1. No expensive equipment needed

benefit of pickup soccer - no expensive equipment needed

Perhaps the best thing about playing pickup soccer is the distinct lack of a need to dip into your wallet to buy soccer-related equipment.

Because pickup soccer can be played pretty much anywhere, participants don’t have to worry about having to purchase the finest soccer cleats or the sturdiest shin guards to protect their legs from injury.

More so, you can use different objects like bags, clothes or even shoes to represent your goal posts.

Within the African continent pickup soccer players even take things a step further by playing bare footed – trust my personal experience on that one!

Therefore, pickup soccer is great because there’s pretty much no barrier to entry in terms of upfront cost.


2. Freedom to experiment

Another plus point of pickup soccer is the way in which it allows players to express themselves and try out new things.

If you want to try perfecting a new skill move like a rabona or a set of step overs, then pickup soccer provides you with the perfect playing environment to do so.

There aren’t any coaches or managers looking over your shoulder to see what exactly you’re doing with the soccer ball and highlighting your mistakes, nor are there any demanding team mates pressuring you to pass the ball to them.

You get a great platform to try out new techniques that could serve you well in competitive fixtures, with all the time that you need for skill refinement.


3. Experiencing defensive and offensive play

Pickup soccer also broadens a player’s experience when it comes to both the offensive and defensive sides of the game.

For example, if you usually play as a striker in competitive matches, you’re not going to be called to defend much during a game unless you head back to help out during set pieces.

The majority of your time on the field as a striker will be spent running into the channels as well as making sprints in behind the defensive line at the other end of the field.

And that’s where pickup soccer comes in handy, as you get involved in all aspects of play as opposed to just one or two.

You learn how to support other pickup players as well as deal with offensive to defensive transitions (and vice versa) when they take place in a casual kickabout.


Which pickup soccer games are beginner friendly?

Of course, if you’re new to playing soccer in general, then you’re first going to want to get comfortable having the ball at your feet.

Pickup soccer is a great way of accomplishing just this, as you can get involved with groups of other players in games like:

  • Piggy in the middle;
  • Juggling; and
  • Soccer tennis.

Any of these games will help you improve your ball control and help you get accustomed to playing soccer as a sport.


Tips to become a better pickup soccer player

Before you go out and engage in pickup soccer, here’s a couple of tips that could come in handy:


Maintain movement

That’s right!

When playing pickup soccer, you’re going to want to keep moving even as other people have possession of the ball.

Standing still makes it easy for an opponent to mark you and prevent you from receiving the ball, so moving into open spaces to avail yourself for a pass is generally a better thing to do.


Be aware of your surroundings

In the same vein, have a look to see who and what is around you when playing a causal soccer game.

For example, you could spot a player in acres of space who may be available to receive a long-range pass.

Or, you could take note of a nearby wall which you could bounce the ball off of to your advantage when the timing is right.

With pickup soccer, you’re not limited by line markings that stipulate when and were the soccer ball can be used, so it’s up to you and your own ingenuity to make use of your existing environment.

Samuel Waihenya
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