Soccer Formations

If your team isn't playing as well as you would like you should take a hard look at your soccer formation. If your team is U8 or older, your soccer formation could be keeping your team from reaching its potential (don't worry about soccer formations until U8). Changing your formation and Style of Play are possibly the easiest things you can do that can make a fast difference in how your team plays.

Answering the questions below will help you determine the type of formation and Style of Play that is best for your team. The Style of Play you use goes hand-in-hand with your formation. For example, do your Fullbacks Push Up when you attack or do they Stay Deep (inside or near your Penalty Box)? And is your team capable of playing a short passing style of attack or not? If they can't play a short passing style of attack all over the field, can they play that way in their Attacking Third? Formations and styles of play are discussed in more detail at Soccer Formations, Styles of Play and Diagrams for Youth Soccer and Soccer Formations

Answering the questions below is the first step in selecting the soccer formation that is best for your team. Write down the answers:

How many timid players do you have who are scared of contact or of being hit by the ball? (You can't put these players at fullback, and you can't put them in the Center positions such as Center Midfielder of Stopper - the best place for them is at Right Midfield or Left Midfield).

  1. Make a list of your players and rate each player's speed, endurance and bravery, and write down each player's strengths and weaknesses.
  2. How many substitutes do you usually have? What is the least number you might have?
  3. How many skilled players do you have who can dribble and pass the ball?
  4. How many unskilled players you have?
  5. How long is the field you play on? (That will determine how much running your Fullback would have to do if you Push Up when you attack).
  6. What are your opponent's strengths and weaknesses? (Are they fast? Can they consistently complete 3 or 4 passes in a row? Do they have timid players?)

How to interpret your answers using an example for a team that plays 8v8 -- Here is an example. If you have a typical Rec team that plays 8v8 (each team has 7 on the field plus a goalkeeper) and play on a long field, have some timid players who are scared of contact and can't win the ball, if you often don't have many subs, and have Fullbacks who aren't fast and who lack stamina, your team probably can't be successful if you ask the Fullbacks to Push Up very far when you attack. In that case, you should consider a 2-1-3-1 soccer formation, put your timid players at Right Midfielder and Left Midfielder and have your Fullbacks stay inside your Penalty Box when you attack (that is called Defending Deep). That formation is easy to teach and you should put your best players in the Center of the field at Stopper, Center Midfielder and Forward (the two "1s" and Center Mid). That will give you strength in the Center of the Field, which you MUST control or you will lose (give up the sidelines - you don't have the speed, endurance or ability to defend the entire width of the field). If your team is like the one described above and plays 11v11, you might consider a 3-2-3-2 or other similar formations.

Soccer Drills Logo

Copyright David Huddleston, All Rights Reserved

Want to Re-Print this article or part of it? You are allowed to link back to this article or to The content of this website is original and protected by copyright laws. You may copy on paper for handouts up to 5 pages from provided you adhere to the following conditions: you don't remove any references to or to, and you MUST include "Copyright". at the top or bottom of the handout. To copy our work without crediting us is stealing and we WILL protect our copyrights. We would rather be nice than mean, so please save us some trouble and credit if you copy any information from this website. It is illegal to post any information from on the internet without written permission from David Huddleston, except we will allow quotes of up to 50 words to be posted ON THE CONDITION that you add a functioning link on the TOP of the same page that goes to and says "Copyright” - the link MUST actually work so if it is clicked it goes to We have to enforce this due to blatant theft and to protect our copyrights. Please report theft to us if you see it. Thanks for your cooperation.