Most players that are of intermediate level will have already had exposure to the soccer basics. The plan for this level is to practice and refine fundamental skills. It’s less critical that all players have a ball at all times and so paired, small group, and larger group activities can take the forefront.
From a psychological standpoint, teamwork is going to become very important. Once players are comfortable with basic skills, they’ll need to understand how their involvement fits in with a team concept. One player’s attitude can affect the entire team and all players should be aware of this. Confidence, desire, mental rehearsal, self-motivation, and handling problems are important during this period. Players should be able to learn from their mistakes in a game and also learn how to get control of their emotions.
As players mature, their capabilities for fitness improve as well. More can be expected from a conditioning standpoint for players of an intermediate level. They’re stronger, faster, and are able to tolerate longer stints of aerobic exercise. Players should take pride in their conditioning and this is something they should begin incorporating into their overall lives, and not just only practice day.
Intermediate players should be introduced to a larger range of technical skills. These include feints with the ball, receiving balls in various ways and trapping with various parts of the body (heel, shins, thigh, abdomen, chest, and head). Heading to score goals and clearing should be second nature at this point. Players should also become adept at chipping to score, passing with the outside of the foot, bending shots, crossing to the near post, and kicking and receiving with the inside of the instep. Volley shooting should be introduced as well as slide tackling. For goalkeepers, bowling, low dives and forward diving, angle play, near post play, and saving penalty kicks will be introduced.
On the tactical side, introduce skills such as 2-on-1 defending, 2-on-2 attacking and defending and roles of a second attacker and defender. Communication for all positions is very important, both visual and verbal. During half-time, players should learn to analyze what has occurred and be able and willing to make adjustments. New corner kick plays for defenders and attackers can be demonstrated as well as kickoff plays. Other skills include wall passes and introduction of principles of defense.
While developing a plan for practice, you’ll want to incorporate more game-like activities into practices. The games approach replicates a game environment and better prepares the players, both physically and mentally, for the demands of an actual match. Keep in mind that most of the time will be spent in practice and games take up a small percentage of time. The way in which training sessions are conducted will affect the players’ enjoyment and success throughout the season. This becomes more evident as players grow in their abilities.