Intermediate Coaching and Honing Mechanical Skills

Intermediate level players are usually older, more competent, and more multidimensional. Although still kids, usually, it’s a great time to capitalize on their new skills and knowledge. Games are still important for this level. Although many of the players are on the field because they want to be good at soccer, ultimately they should be there because they think it’s fun. Also keep in mind that coaching should be satisfying as well and a great way to enjoy coaching is to watch players learn and master new things.

There’s something called a “cone of learning” that educators find helpful when teaching a skill to their students. Students remember a small portion of what they hear, a slightly larger portion of what they see, and a considerably larger portion of what they actually do. And they remember virtually all of what they teach.

Coaches can use this learning theory to help them teach soccer skills. A specific skill can be discussed, but it’s the least effective way to get the information across. Simple demonstrations aren’t enough either. The best way is to first have the players practice it on their own and walk them individually through each step.

When they’ve mastered a skill, then have them teach it to another player who may not have completely mastered it. The “teachers” will have that particular skill cemented into their brain by the end of practice. If someone is having trouble executing a concept, such as a through ball into open space, see if the player can explain it to others. After some thought is given to the play, it may become more clear when on the field. Having players teach others certain skills also develops a huge sense of teamwork and camaraderie. A player will want to help a fellow player succeed because he or she knows the overall team will benefit. Intermediate players begin to realize they’re only as strong as their weakest link.

If that seems overwhelming, then scale back slightly. Walk through the process with the player and explain why each step is being performed. A small investment in time during practice can pay off significantly during the game. A “no player will be left behind” policy should be instituted and the players should feel secure in this.

When focusing on a skill during practice, tell the players beforehand that a specific one or two skills will be given emphasis. If players know the focus of practice, it will help them with their own focus. Abstract skills like moving “off the ball” are skills that Intermediates should begin to incorporate into their total play. These skills are more difficult to comprehend since the ball isn’t involved directly. A player will begin to see plays forming and develop a feel for where they should position themselves. Over time, such skills will become second-nature.

To review an excellent DVD on how to run an effective practice for the intermediate or even advanced players, please order:

All Access Soccer Practice…with Bobby Clarke

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