Best 7 v 7 Soccer Formations, Positions & Systems: Under 10’s

9 vs 9 Under 12 Formations 1

Formations can win or lose games. For youth teams, it is best to begin with a simple defensive formation that the players understand, as they are still learning the game. Once the players have a good relationship with each other, you can experiment to decide what is best.

What are the best 7 v 7 soccer formations?

For a defensive system pick a 3-2-1, for a standard formation choose 2-3-1, and for an attacking formation go for a 1-3-2.

Picking a formation depends on what type of players you have. If you have a great striker or defender, this will make your choice easier. Play to your team’s strengths, so that you get the most out of your players.

Before we look at formations, for those that are newer to the game here is a diagram of a soccer field, to show what is what.

soccer basic field infographics

Basics

Soccer field infographic

Formations – Positions – Systems: Considerations

Choosing your formation to play will depend on the following key points. Getting the best out of your players is the intention when picking your system.

Best Players

A common saying in soccer is to build a team around your best player. Wherever that player is playing, who do they work with the best? Players often have a favorite player to play with when playing – this may be because of a knowledge of what they can do and where they will be. A trust factor.

If your best player is a midfielder that can play a ball 60 yards into the corner, have a winger that is willing to run into space.

Weak Areas

An opponent will look for weaknesses in your team and any good coach will make changes in the game to utilize your weak point. Be sure to minimize the risk by pairing players up who combine well.

You might have a central defender who is good at heading the ball but is slow. Players who play next to each other ideally complement one another with their attributes.

Pace

Having pace is always a good trait for a team. Whether it is the full-back in recovery or a winger taking on a player, it can be an influential aspect. That said, you don’t necessarily need pace if you have players like Iniesta and Xavi, who can control the ball and pass with accuracy.

A player with pace is best placed in a position that will be dangerous. Have them in a position where they will more often face a 1-on-1 situation.

Player Combinations

Tiki Taka is widely known for its combination play. That is short, quick passing with one or two touches, played a speed that hard to close down and intercept.

When players are in their positions, they will not only be combining with those directly next to them but those on a diagonal. So a full-back will be linking with a central midfielder. Forming combinations can be highly effective, you ideally need to play in triangles.

A player ideally will have two options when to pass the ball – this is the triangle. Players waiting for a pass will be constantly moving to create an opportunity to pass. When the ball is passed there will be a new triangle of players that should be on the move away from their markers.

Isolated Players

In a 5-3-2 formation, the full-backs are expected to work the full length of the field. They can become isolated. It is important when picking players to play there that they have the right attributes. They need a good ‘engine’ to get up and down.

The same applies to a lone striker, they need support, from other players or with a quality pass. The striker will often be playing against two defenders, so they either need to have the pace to get behind or they need to be able to hold up the ball.

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1-3-2 Sweeper-Attack: 7 v 7 Soccer Formation

132 formation Under 10's (Best 7 v 7 Soccer Formations)

1-3-2

Sweeper System

Pros

  • Security of a sweeper
  • 2 strikers
  • 3 defense/midfield

Cons

  • Need a good sweeper
  • Narrow
  • Striker combination

If you have a good defender that you can trust to keep the opposition from scoring, this could be a formation for your team. With three players in front of the defender, giving help when needed and advancing in possession.

Having two strikers can cause any team problem, as long as they can find space and they can be found. The strikers must work together and combine their play to be effective.

1-3-2 Player Zones

132 positions Under 10's (Best 7 v 7 Soccer Formations)

The duty of the sweeper is to defend any danger, so they are positioned in and around the box to stop what they can. The central midfielder will help out in defense and creat attacks by supplying the striker.

The two wide midfielders cover a larger area than the central one as there is less play on the wing. This central three system, is easy to coach to the players, as they are in line with one another and they cover the same length of the field.

The two strikers will occupy the opponents half, covering all areas, when they need to make runs or find space. With four players behind the strikers, if you have a solid base, you can allow the strikers to cause problems. The strikers should be good at combining with one-twos.

1-3-2 Defensive Positions

132 defense Under 10's (Best 7 v 7 Soccer Formations)

The sweeper in defense will be in front of the goalkeeper, protecting the danger zone around the goalmouth. The three players in front will need to drop back into the box to cover any areas and follow runs.

The two strikers will stop the ball from being played back to the opposition defense, so they limit their options. Then when possession is regained, they will be moving into space, looking for a ball played through to them.

1-3-2 Attacking Positions

132 attack Under 10's

The sweeper will stay in his/her own half and be the last player back with no one in between themselves and the keeper. They will sometimes be required to play the ball back to their midfielders or strikers if they have a good kick.

The midfield is a place where you can have a couple of varieties. It is never the best idea for all of them to attack, so you will have the central one attacking or the two wider midfielders attacking. If the players can do a combination of the two, it will put the opposition on the back foot.

The strikers will make runs in and around the box, always looking for space so they are free for a strike.

1-3-2 Danger Zones

132 problems Under 10's

The wide positions are where the opposition can cause problems. This is when the team needs to work as a unit to keep compact. If the ball is out wide the team as a whole needs to shift together.

The midfield’s main responsibility is to defend. This is because you have two strikers, so they will cover the danger areas. The space behind the strikers can be covered is one or two of them retreat back if problems are being caused there.

2-3-1 Diamond-Strong: 7 v 7 Soccer Formation

231 formation under 10's (Best 7 v 7 Soccer Formations)

2-3-1

Diamond

Pros

Cons

  • Lone striker
  • narrow

The 2-3-1 diamond is a common formation for the under 10’s and the players will be comfortable with it. The main question to address is, do you have a good striker? The striker will need to be a good runner and someone who takes chances to score goals.

With two defenders at the back, it is secure enough to be able to focus on creating attacks with the other players without being too risky.

2-3-1 Player Zones

231 areas of player zones u10

The two defenders will defend their side in, and in front of their goal. The midfielders will cover a large distance in order to supply and support the striker. The striker when attacking should keep around the danger zone in the center, so if an opportunity comes, they take it.

2-3-2 Defensive Positions

231 defensive areas u10s

Having two defenders in front of the goalkeeper gives security to the team. The midfield will protect the defenders, stop long-range shots and move across to where the danger is. The striker is to patrol the halfway line, ready to intercept the play to break.

3-4-1 Attacking Positions

231 attacking positions u10s

When the ball is near the opposition’s goal, your keeper will come out to the edge of the box, in case a ball is played through where they can intercept. The defenders are to recycle the ball back to the attackers if needed.

The shape of this attack comes from different directions, the four need to combine plays and make runs to be effective.

2-3-1 Danger Zones

231 problem areas u10

The corners are most exposed, so if there is just one attacking player, one of the defenders can deal with it. If the defenders are occupied or the opposition is camped in your half, the midfielder will go wide and the other two midfielders will move across to occupy the eath other places.

A problem can occur if the defenders are spread apart, this will cause a gap in the middle, allowing attacks and runs centrally. Be sure to keep a close distance between the two.

3-2-1 Strong-Base: 7 v 7 Soccer Formation

321 formation u10 (Best 7 v 7 Soccer Formations)

3-2-1

Christmas Tree

Pros

  • Defensive
  • Adaptable on break

Cons

  • 1 striker
  • Narrow attack

If you have a new team to coach or you want to make your team concede fewer goals, this 3-2-1 formation may be the solution. It always best to have a solid foundation and develop a team from there.

Once the players have an understanding of the game you can adapt the formation. This requires a good striker that can work on their own.

3-2-1 Player Zones

321 player formation areas

The fullbacks can move forward when in possession or dribbling, but they can’t leave the center back exposed. The center-back will concentrate on defending, they will be the last player in between the goalkeeper.

The midfielders need to support the striker will through balls and runs. They must take risks knowing that they have three defenders behind them.

3-2-1 Defensive Positions

321 defence formation positions u10

With all the players back in position, the goal is well protected. Three defenders in the box are hard for an opponent to break-down and with the two midfielders blocking.

For the under 10’s it is the best formation for defending, but with so many players back there must be a way to attack. When the midfielders regain the ball they should run into space, this is normally on the wing.

3-2-1 Attacking Positions

321 attack under 10s formation

From a very defensive shape to an adventurous one. The aim of this formation is to get the players into these positions, which can be tough when it’s defensive by nature. If the center -back is not marking a player or they are comfortable marking one player, the other two defenders can push up.

The striker and midfielders have the responsibility to score goals. They will be attack-minded and making runs towards the goal.

3-2-1 Danger Zones

321 formation problem areas u10

The problem areas for this formation are out on the wings in midfield. This is not a bad place to have problem areas, it’s far from the goal. To keep the shape it is best for the wide defenders to deal with the problem when it gets to them, so the team is not spread out.

Keeping compact in any formation is the best way to defend, so instead of players being drawn to the ball, it is best for hold position and or retreat if the ball is moved into your half. This way the goal and the midfield will be protected.

2-1-2-1 Dynamic-Flow: 7 v 7 Soccer Formation

2121 formation under 10s (Best 7 v 7 Soccer Formations)

2-1-2-1

Wingers

Pros

  • Defensive midfielder
  • 3 attacking players

Cons

  • Attacks on the wing
  • 1 striker

If you have a good striker and two players that are good at running with the ball, this 2-1-2-1 formation is ideal.

You will mainly have 3 defenders, 3 attackers and the defense is having problems the two wide forward players can drop back.

2-1-2-1 Player Zones

2121 formation positions u10

The two center backs are to defend up to the halfway line and not let anyone past them. The center midfielder’s main role is to protect the defense and support when attacking.

The wingers will attack and support the striker as much as they can, so the striker is not isolated. The striker will hold-up the ball and be around the goal area for any chances created.

2-1-2-1 Defensive Positions

2121 defense formation u10

With all the players back, the team has a good shape. This is only possible when the two wide players get back, so they must be able to run good distances.

The position of the midfielders blocks the gaps that the defenders cannot occupy. The striker will stop the opposition’s defenders from playing the ball.

2-1-2-1 Attacking Positions

2121 attack u10 formation

The striker will be central to the goal and make runs into space with the wingers coming in from the sides. The midfielder will begin attacks, feeding the wingers and striker.

2-1-2-1 Danger Zones

2121 problem formation u10

The danger zone in front of the midfielder is safe enough unless the opposition has a player that is good at passing and causing danger. The corners are the other issue, as a team you can keep your positions and defend the center of the goal or a player can move across to tackle or restrict them.

Free PDF Download: Under 10’s 7 vs 7 Soccer Formations – Infographic – Tactics Field

For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

Which soccer player’s position runs the least?

A goalkeeper will run the least each game and for the outfield players, it’s normally the center back.

Do midfielders score goals?

The midfielder will score but not as often as the striker. You should expect the midfielders to score 25% of the number of goals a striker would score.

Do soccer numbers mean anything?

Goalkeepers are normally numbers 1 or 13, the defenders 2 to 5, midfielders 6, 7, 8, 11 and the strikers are 9 and 10. This will vary for each formation and for professionals that have squad numbers of 13 +.
Read More…

Best 9 v 9 Soccer Formations, Positions & Systems: Under 12’s

9 v 9 Under 12s Soccer Formations

I enjoy coaching youth teams and testing out new formations. Young players always like to learn and try something new. 9 v 9 soccer formations are fun to implement. It makes you feel like a team when everyone knows their new role, so you can outsmart your opponent.

Which soccer formation is the best 9 v 9 soccer formation?

For a defensive system use 4-3-1, for a neutral formation choose 2-4-2 and for an attacking formation pick a 2-1-3-2. Play to your team’s strength and have appropriate players for your formation.

Formations for youth games is different than selecting one for an adult game. Young players are sometimes unsure where to be on the field of play. Be sure that you train for a couple of weeks before lining up against an opponent.

One of the best ways to introduce a new formation is by changing one player at a time. This could be during a game or at the half time team talk. Dropping one player back or moving one forward allows the players to gradually adapt to a new system. Too many changes at once can cause chaos!

When I was a youth player, my coach did not have a formation board, not even a piece of paper! I remember once feeling unsure of where to be, so I played safe and did not venture forward.

Before we look at formations, for those that are newer to the game here is a diagram of a soccer field, to show what is what.

soccer basic field infographics

Basics

Soccer field infographic

Formations – Positions – Systems: Considerations

Choosing your formation to play will depend on the following key points. Getting the best out of your players is the intention when picking your system.

Best Players

A common saying in soccer is to build a team around your best player. Wherever that player is playing, who do they work with the best? Players often have a favorite player to play with when playing – this may be because of a knowledge of what they can do and where they will be. A trust factor.

If your best player is a midfielder that can play a ball 60 yards into the corner, have a winger that is willing to run into space.

Weak Areas

An opponent will look for weaknesses in your team and any good coach will make changes in the game to utilize your weak point. Be sure to minimize the risk by pairing players up who combine well.

You might have a central defender who is good at heading the ball but is slow. Players who play next to each other ideally complement one another with their attributes.

Pace

Having pace is always a good trait for a team. Whether it is the full-back in recovery or a winger taking on a player, it can be an influential aspect. That said, you don’t necessarily need pace if you have players like Iniesta and Xavi, who can control the ball and pass with accuracy.

A player with pace is best placed in a position that will be dangerous. Have them in a position where they will more often face a 1-on-1 situation.

Player Combinations

Tiki Taka is widely known for its combination play. That is short, quick passing with one or two touches, played a speed that hard to close down and intercept.

When players are in their positions, they will not only be combining with those directly next to them but those on a diagonal. So a full-back will be linking with a central midfielder. Forming combinations can be highly effective, you ideally need to play in triangles.

A player ideally will have two options when to pass the ball – this is the triangle. Players waiting for a pass will be constantly moving to create an opportunity to pass. When the ball is passed there will be a new triangle of players that should be on the move away from their markers.

Isolated Players

In a 5-3-2 formation, the full-backs are expected to work the full length of the field. They can become isolated. It is important when picking players to play there that they have the right attributes. They need a good ‘engine’ to get up and down.

The same applies to a lone striker, they need support, from other players or with a quality pass. The striker will often be playing against two defenders, so they either need to have the pace to get behind or they need to be able to hold up the ball.

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9 v 9 Soccer Formations

2-4-2 Formation – Positions: Diagrams

242 positions - u12 (9 v 9 soccer formations)

2-4-2

Solid Midfield

Pros

  • Strong Midfield
  • Wide players
  • 2 strikers

Cons

  • Can turn to a 4-2-2
  • Defenders can be exposed
  • Strikers need to defend from the front

For this youth under 12’s formation, you need two wide players that enjoy running. Most often for youth games, the play will be central, so they won’t be needed as much.

It is a balanced formation with two permanent defenders and two strikers. The key is with the midfield and how they defend an attack. There must be runs from the middle to keep the opponents on the back foot.

2-4-2 Player Zones

242 player areas - u12

As mentioned, the wingers are required to cover the length of the field, so they must be good runners. More often than not the ball will be central. The player zones for this formation are simple and easy for a youth team to grasp. As with most formations, it is best to be compact in defense – players go narrow, closing the gaps. Spread out in attack, creating space and opportunities.

This formation relies on combination play between two players that are paired – defenders, midfielders and attackers. They must work together (it is best to build up a bond in training and pair them together). On occasion one the midfielder will attack and the other will support.

2-4-2 Defensive Positions

242 defense 2 - u12

In the defensive positions, the attackers will close down players with the ball near the halfway line – but also be ready for a counter-attack and get in space. The main problem areas are covered in this system when the players are in position.

It might be advisable to have one of the attackers drop back into the center when defending to stop the attack from the middle, through the midfielders.

2-4-2 Attacking Positions

242 attack formation - u12

Two strikers in the box will always cause problems for the opposition and that backed up by the midfield – it’s an attacking line-up. Depending on the type of wingers you have, they can either attack the box and help the strikers or they can cover for the two central midfielders when they attack,

With the two strikers, it is always good to get crosses into the box and cause problems. It won’t always create a goal, but persistence will pay-off. The goalkeeper should be on the edge of their box, so they are ready for any balls over the top.

2-4-2 Danger Zones

242 formation problem areas 2 - u12

The corners of this formation can cause problems if the opposition has good wingers. You will need to decide is the defenders follow the attackers or stay zonal. As mentioned the midfield needs to be able to help the defense so they are no isolated.

Because the formation is flat, there are pockets of space in between the defense and midfield. When out of possession, the midfield should be closer to the defense, making a compact unit.

3-4-1 Formation and Diagrams

341 formation u12 formation (9 v 9 soccer formations)

3-4-1

Defensive Formation

Pros

  • Solid defense
  • Strong foundation
  • Counter attacking

Cons

  • Striker can be isolated
  • Striker needs to be very strong or fast
  • Needs runners

For a good formation to begin with for under 12’s, the 3-4-1 is a good place to start. With players covering the dangerous areas, it can make the team stable.

For this formation to work you must have a good striker (and alternative for injury). They must be able to hold the ball up, bring others into play, or be fast so that they can take on a player. The winger must attack and support the striker.

3-4-1 Player Zones

341 player positions u12 formation

The fullbacks can move forward when in possession, but their main priority is to defend. The central defender will always be defending and it is ideal if they have good speed, so they are not beaten by any runs.

The wingers will focus on attacking, so this formation is good if you have two players that can dribble the ball past players. The wingers will not always be back in place for defending so the central midfield and defenders must expect it. The striker must look for the spaces to run into for a through ball and be around the goal for crosses.

3-4-1 Defensive Positions

341 defence 2 u12 formation

This formation provides plenty of cover in the goal box, with three players the attacking team will find it difficult to break down. With two midfielders in front of the defense, they cover the spaces in between the lines. At times the defensive sides will go out to cover the wings, so the team must shuffle across to cover.

The striker will stop the opposition defenders from playing the ball and they will find space so that they can attack. It is important that the striker is not around the defenders so that they can hold the ball up and bring other players into play.

3-4-1 Attacking Positions

341 attack u12 formation

In attack the wingers will be pushed up the field, ready to support the striker and running from this angle can cause a lot of problems. The striker must move in all directions to look for space to cause problems.

The advantage of this formation is that the two midfielders can support the attack knowing that they have three defenders behind them to cover for any counter-attacks.

When the ball is in the opponent’s box, the two wide defenders can move forward a little so that they are slightly advanced – this can build up the attack again if the ball goes back.

3-4-1 Danger Zones

341 problem areas u12 formation

The center of the defense is well covered with three defenders for under 12’s. Problems can occur when the ball is out wide and the winger is forward. Normally it is best for the defender to go wide and for the other two defenders to move central to cover the goal.

Again, as this formation is flat, there is space between the defense and attack, so the midfield must drop back to minimize the gaps. The two wide defenders must be close to the center back, if they are spread out, gaps will appear for the opponents.

4-3-1 Formation and Diagrams

431 formation - U12 (9 v 9 soccer formations)

4-3-1

Christmas Tree

Pros

  • Defensive
  • Adaptable
  • Solid

Cons

  • Need good fullbacks
  • Isolated striker
  • Restricts attacks

For an under 12’s team with a good striker, the 4-3-1 formation could be good for you. It is a solid base to work from. Setting up like this will limit your opponent, which allows you to develop your style of play and system.

The key to this formation is the striker and the fullbacks. If the fullbacks can time their runs forward and cover themselves when needed, it can be highly effective.

4-3-1 Player Zones

431 player areas

The fullbacks will advance when in position, like a wingback. This is not always expected by the opposition and can catch them out. It is the role of the central midfielder to cover for the fullbacks if they are out of position.

The wide midfielders are to keep close to the center midfielder and not to be dragged out wide too often. If they are out wide on the byline, it should be when attacking.

As with any formation that has a lone striker, they need to be supported for it to work. The support will mainly come from the two wider midfielders, and this is backed up by the central midfielder and fullbacks. —

4-3-1 Defensive Positions

431 defense areas

This is one of the hardest formations in the under 12’s to break down. When all of the players are in their defensive positions, all the danger areas are covered. The midfielders are ideally placed to block the lines through the defense.

The team is compact here but they must be ready to counter-attack. From this shape when the ball is regained, the players must move wider to create space. Dribbling skills are needed to take the ball in an advanced area before they can find support.

4-3-1 Attacking Positions

431 attack areas 2

In attack, the formation covers the key areas and everyone has their own space to attack. The two central defenders will always be at the back, which gives security for the other players to advance.

Movement is key for this formation, as shown in the defensive shape, it can look like a restrictive shape, but now on the attack, it looks dangerous. The two wide midfielders must get in the box as often as they can when in possession to cause problems.

4-3-1 Danger Zones

431 problem areas 2

The main problem for this system is the position of the midfielders. When the ball is on one wing, all of the midfield must shuffle across to keep the gaps limited. The fullbacks will face many one-on-ones, but they must not let the attacker behind them.

2-1-3-2 Formation and Diagrams

2132 formation u12 (9 v 9 soccer formations)

2-1-3-2

Attacking

Pros

  • Two strikers
  • Compact
  • Central

Cons

  • No width
  • wide players stretched
  • Communication

For most games in the under 12’s the ball will be central, so this formation is suited to be played if you see the ball mainly there in your league.

This formation gives an attacking edge with a solid midfield. Two central midfielders, one defensive and the other attacking. There could be in danger on the wings if the players and not communicating.

2-1-3-2 Player Zones

2132 player positions u12

As normal with the wide players need to athletic, so they can cover most of the field. This is highly important to give some width so the team is not stretched. Two solid defenders that work together to keep it stable at the bank, along with the defensive midfielder.

The team has its strength in the midfield with the 3 players and one supporting, this along with two strikers gives an attacking look. As mentioned the areas on the wing are not covered well – this can be overcome if the team effectively shuffles across as a unit.

2-1-3-2 Defensive Positions

2132 defence formation

We can see the central part of the field is covered well, but this demonstrated the vulnerable areas out wide. So the wide midfielders will be responsible to cover the wings, so they need to be able to run a lot.

When the ball is in the box, the team can transform into a 3-3-2 formation, which gives the team an adaptable system. If the team is under a lot of pressure the strikers can drop back further to help out and keep the team compact.

2-1-3-2 Attacking Positions

2132 attack u12

Two strikers in the box that work well together is positive and this can be made into a front three when the attacking midfielder breaks forward. Again the wide midfielders will be required to give with, supplying balls into the box. The defensive midfielder should always be available to keep possession of the ball and start attacks.

2-1-3-2 Danger Zones

2132 formation problem areas

The corners and wide areas are the main concern. As mentioned the wide midfielders can trackback and cover, if they have the energy to get up and down. A back-up to this problem is for the players to move back towards goal and keep the formation compact at the back and deal with any crosses that come in.

Have fun with your players testing and trialing 9 v 9 soccer formations.

Free PDF Download: Under 12’s – 9 vs 9 soccer Formations – Infographic – Tactics Field

For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

Where do you put your weakest player in soccer?

A weaker player will be supported by teammates around them and not be exposed to a one-on-one situation defending their goal.

Which position is best in soccer?

A central midfielder will enjoy all parts of the game as they will be involved in defending and attacking.

How do you become a good soccer coach?

Players enjoy training when they have a ball and especially when there is a match. Keep them happy with training variations and a focus on playing as a team to build unity.
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Best 11 v 11 Soccer Formations, Positions & Systems

11 v 11 Over 12s Soccer Formations

Formations can win or lose a game. I love to study the set-up of teams, to see how I would manage it. I look at it like putting your chess pieces in the right places so that you can capitalize when needed. A poor formation can leave you at the mercy of the opponents, but a good one will make you kings.

Which 11 vs 11 soccer formation is the best?


The best formation will vary from team to team. Some other questions need to be answered first, like who is your main threat or star player? Organizing a team around your best players will put you in good stead. Utilizing the energy and pace of wide players is very effective. Play to your strengths.

The main aspect when playing soccer is that you need to be compact in defense and open in the attack. When you defend with a tight unit of players you leave less space for the opponents to create problems for you.

The opposite is applied when attacking, if you can stretch the opponents out, you will create gaps that will lead to attacks.

Before we look at formations, for those that are newer to the game here is a diagram of a soccer field, to show what is what.

soccer basic field infographics

Basics

Soccer field infographic

Formations – Positions – Systems: Considerations

Choosing your formation to play will depend on the following key points. Getting the best out of your players is the intention when picking your system.

Best Players

A common saying in soccer is to build a team around your best player. Wherever that player is playing, who do they work with the best? Players often have a favorite player to play with when playing – this may be because of a knowledge of what they can do and where they will be. A trust factor.

If your best player is a midfielder that can play a ball 60 yards into the corner, have a winger that is willing to run into space.

Weak Areas

An opponent will look for weaknesses in your team and any good coach will make changes in the game to utilize your weak point. Be sure to minimize the risk by pairing players up who combine well.

You might have a central defender who is good at heading the ball but is slow. Players who play next to each other ideally complement one another with their attributes.

Pace

Having pace is always a good trait for a team. Whether it is the full-back in recovery or a winger taking on a player, it can be an influential aspect. That said, you don’t necessarily need pace if you have players like Iniesta and Xavi, who can control the ball and pass with accuracy.

A player with pace is best placed in a position that will be dangerous. Have them in a position where they will more often face a 1-on-1 situation.

Player Combinations

Tiki Taka is widely known for its combination play. That is short, quick passing with one or two touches, played a speed that hard to close down and intercept.

When players are in their positions, they will not only be combining with those directly next to them but those on a diagonal. So a full-back will be linking with a central midfielder. Forming combinations can be highly effective, you ideally need to play in triangles.

A player ideally will have two options when to pass the ball – this is the triangle. Players waiting for a pass will be constantly moving to create an opportunity to pass. When the ball is passed there will be a new triangle of players that should be on the move away from their markers.

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Isolated Players

In a 5-3-2 formation, the full-backs are expected to work the full length of the field. They can become isolated. It is important when picking players to play there that they have the right attributes. They need a good ‘engine’ to get up and down.

The same applies to a lone striker, they need support, from other players or with a quality pass. The striker will often be playing against two defenders, so they either need to have the pace to get behind or they need to be able to hold up the ball.

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Features
4-panel construction enlarges the striking surface for a bigger sweet spot.
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Nike Aerow Trac grooves allow consistency in ball spin.
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11 v 11 Soccer Formations

4-4-2 Formation – Positions: Diagrams

4-4-2 diagram (11 v 11 soccer formation)

4-4-2

Traditional 4-4-2 formation

Pros

  • Widely known
  • Rigid
  • Width
  • Defensive
  • Coverage

Cons

  • Gaps
  • Space
  • Predictable
  • Straight lines
  • Simple

4-4-2 is a formation that has been widely used over the decades. It is used less now or there are variations like the diamond. The formation can be exposed if the formation is too flat with straight lines, which leave gaps between the defense and midfield. It can be effective as all the players are confident of where their teammates are on the field.

It is a good base formation, but it must be adapted so that it is not too predictable.

4-4-2 Player Zones

442 player zones

Zones

Areas of play for each player

The fullback on each side will cover up to the opponent’s penalty box and sometimes beyond if they are attacking. Likewise, the winger will go back to their own box and are sometimes required to drop deeper.

The zones are the simplest forms and are easy for the players to operate in. The system allows for the wingers to attack the goal and the fullbacks to overlap. Normally one of the two center midfielders will be more attacking than the other.

4-4-2 Defensive Positions

442 defensive positions

Defense

Defensive areas of 4-4-2

The defensive shape covers a good area that will be attacked and is good for all-round protection. The full-backs will work with the wingers and the center back that are near them to close the gaps.

If the strikers stay in the position shown there will be danger behind them and when a team breaks there will be nobody further forward. In many cases, the strikers will go centrally, one further forward as an outlet and the other blocking penetration through the center of the midfield.

4-4-2 Attacking Positions

442 attacking positions

Attack

Attacking positions

Having attacking fullbacks is an advantage in this position. If they have one of the following attributes, great pace and can cross or beat a player.

Ideally, they will have all three, but it is very rare. If they don’t carry out one of these it will limit the attack and become predictable.

The midfielders have an important role to play and in this scenario, one sits back while the other is advanced. It is possible to play side by side but they will have to be good communicators to switch roles of making runs into the box.

Having two strikers in the box will always cause problems and it is important that they make short and unpredictable runs.

4-4-2 Problem Areas

442 problem areas

Cons

Areas for concern

The problem with a standard 4-4-2 is the flat rows of defender and midfielders. Good opponents will find the space in between the lines.

To avoid this, the team can play very compact, with the defender and midfielder closer together, allowing no space for a player to play between the lines.

Another way around the problem of the gaps is to change the positions when on the defense. One of the strikers can drop into the center of the field which stops the ball being played through the middle – this also gives security to the midfield.


4-3-3 Formation – Positions: Diagrams

4-3-3 (11 v 11 soccer formation)

4-3-3

Typical 4-3-3 formation

Pros

  • Attacking
  • Forward 3
  • 3 center midfielders

Cons

  • Lone striker
  • Midfield can be stretched
  • Wingers to cover distance

4-3-3 is the either second or first most popular formation, depending on the league. It is famously used by Barcelona very effectively – it helps to have world-class players. If you have the right players is can be very attacking and cause the opposition problems with three attacking in unison.

The midfield will be required to cover the attacking more often than not when a counter-attack is against you. For the system to work best you need hardworking midfielders, wingers that can beat players and a strong striker.

4-3-3 Player Zones

433 player zones

Zones

Areas of play for the players

The back four is the same as with any four, although because the wingers are further forward, they are expected to cover more ground to support the midfield and attack. The center midfielder is the defensive player, there to stop any attack getting to the defense.

The two other midfielders will cover from box to box, so they need to be athletic. They also need to cover the space behind the winger, so it will pull the midfield out of shape.

The wingers have a license to go inside to find the space – this is where it’s effective. The striker will be playing against two defenders most of the time, so he/she needs to be strong, hold-up the ball and bring the wingers into play.

4-3-3 Defensive Positions

433 defensive positions

Defense

Positions when defending

The positions will apply when the team is under pressure. Sometimes the wingers will not be back on the counter-attack, leaving the defense more exposed. The back four will cover the penalty box, with the midfielder shielding them.

The 4-3-3 better when compared to a 4-4-2 in this situation, with the central midfielder blocking the vital central area.

The striker will disrupt the defenders from playing the ball and even though it is a defensive shape, the striker needs to continuously provide an outlet for when the ball is retained.

This can be done by moving out wide, dropping a little deeper or waiting for a ball over the top.

4-3-3 Attacking Positions

433 attacking positions

Attack

Attacking positions

Vitally the striker will be in the center of the goal – the place where it is easiest to score and where he/she can cause the most problems. The best thing about this formation is that the players are attacking different areas, which will make finding the gaps in the defense easier.

If the fullbacks can make runs around the back of the winger along the line, they can pull players out of position and be in a space where the ball can be crossed effectively.

As always with any formation, runs from the midfield need to made for a chance to be created. The center midfielder will be there to ‘recycle’ the ball back to the attackers,

4-3-3 Problem Areas

433 problem areas

Cons

Problem areas

As mentioned earlier, if the wingers are out of position, it can leave the fullback exposed, causing a one-on-one. This problem can also pull the wide midfielder out of position to cover – which should be temporary until the shape is regained.

The area in front of the midfield, which does not seem too dangerous, but could be against players who can pick a pass, is the space behind the striker and in front of the midfield. #

The striker will have to get back closer to the midfield to reduce the space allowed.

4-1-4-1 Formation – Positions: Diagrams

4-1-4-1 (11 v 11 soccer formation)

4-1-4-1

The 4-1-4-1 formation is a variation on the traditional 4-4-2, with a player placed behind the midfield instead of having two strikers. This formation gives the team more security but can restrict the attacking play.

4-1-4-1 Player Zones

4141 player zones

In the zones for the formation, we can see that the central midfielder here is key to protecting the middle of the goal. They are also responsible for starting the attacks – sometimes referred to as the quarterback of soccer.

4-1-4-1 Defensive Positions

4141 defensive positions

This formation gives a solid defense for the team. All the key areas are covered in the center and the wings have extra protection because the midfielders can go wide with the security of the central midfielder.

4-1-4-1 Attacking Positions

4141 attacking positions

The positions of the players now are similar to what was shown in the 4-4-2 attack. Again the central midfielder is key here to switching the ball and recycling the play.

4-1-4-1 Problem Areas

4141 problem areas

As the formation is tight and defensive, there are few problem areas. Being in a defensive shape like this can invite problems if your team cannot break. To break it needs running wingers and a strong striker who is able to hold up the ball and bring others into play.

4-2-3-1 Formation – Positions: Diagrams

4-2-3-1 (11 v 11 soccer formations)

4-2-3-1

4-2-3-1 can be a defensive formation or an attacking one. The flexibility of this system makes it a favorite of mine. If the central midfielder dropped back on occasion, the other two midfielders could advance and give the opponent more to think about.

4-2-3-1 Player Zones

4231 player zones diagram

In many ways, it is similar to a 4-3-3. The wingers are key to making advances – this can be interchanged with the attacking midfielder when they support the striker.

4-2-3-1 Defensive Positions

4231 defensive positions diagram

In the defensive positions, the formation becomes like a 4-5-1, with that added security of the central midfielder that blocks the most important area of play. Solid in defense and attack – but this all depends on the recovery of the players.

4-2-3-1 Attacking Positions

4231 attacking positions

The two central midfielders will need a good partnership, communicating well to alternate advances forward, being careful not to expose the two defenders. Movement is key as with any formation – a variation of runs with clinical passes.

4-2-3-1 Problem Areas

4231 problem areas

Set against a 4-4-2 formation the players are in good positions, but as with any formation, one-on-ones can be created easily. Bigger problems will occur when faced with a 4-3-3 because two players will be playing centrally where there are gaps.

3-5-2 Formation – Positions: Diagrams

352 (11 v 11 soccer formation)

5-3-2

The role fo the fullbacks/wingers is crucial in a 3-5-2 formation. They need to be defenders and attackers with a ‘good engine’, able to cover the whole of the flank. There are few famous wingbacks that have played the role successfully, but players like Roberto Carlos and Daniel Alves have shown how to.

3-5-2 Player Zones

352 player zones

The fullbacks give the team width and the opposition doesn’t know whether their fullback should be the marker or the winger. The formation stretches the opponents across the field making it difficult.

3-5-2 Defensive Positions

352 defensive problems

In defense the team is transformed into a 5-3-2 – this makes it hard to break down and it gives the team two strikers to play the ball out to. Similar problems to the 4-4-2 can occur as the players are lined up in front of each other – it is best to have the line in front covering the gaps behind.

3-5-2 Attacking Positions

352 attacking positions

Attacking with two strikers is always dangerous and if the fullbacks are good at crossing the ball, it can lead to chances. The three center backs can be wasted if left in this position, so it is ideal for the middle player to step forward as a temporary midfielder.

3-5-2 Problem Areas

352 problem areas

Problems can be created against it if the fullbacks do not get back into position in the corners. If this happens, it pulls the center backs out of position and gaps are created. Two or three runs by players can pull players out of position, which creates gaps.

The best way to pick a formation is to focus on your best players. How can I get the most of the star? Where would they be most effective? As always in soccer, hard work and movement are essential for any formation to work.

Free PDF Download: Over 12’s 11 v 11 – Soccer Formations – Infographic – Tactics Field

For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

What soccer formation is best for attacking?

The most common attacking formation is 4-3-3 which allows three attacking players, as used by Barcelona and Liverpool.

What is the most effective soccer formation?

The most effective formation is one that plays to the strength of your players and the weakness of your opponents. The Champions League winners over recent years have used a 4-3-3.

How do you choose a soccer formation?

Put your best players in their favorite position and cover any weak areas. Begin a match cautiously and after the first ten minutes advance with runs and dribbling.

What soccer formation is best for attacking? The most common attacking formation is 4-3-3 which allows three attacking players, as used by Barcelona and Liverpool.

What is the most effective soccer formation? The most effective formation is one that plays to the strength of your players and the weakness of your opponents. The Champions League winners over recent years have used a 4-3-3.

How do you choose a soccer formation? Put your best players in their favorite position and cover any weak areas. Begin a match cautiously and after the first ten minutes advance with runs and dribbling.

Read More…