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FORMATION / TEAM TACTICS

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Goals of a Formation

  • Width
  • Depth/Length
  • Set up passing options
  • Pose problems for the opposition 
  • Control the Midfield!!

 

DYS Recommended Style of Play

  • Work the ball out of the backfield when all possible, opposed to kick & run soccer
  • Create Thinkers: Soccer is a free flow game, allow your players to be creative as they must be able to make adjustments based on what they see on the field
  • TEAM: hard work, repetition & confident players all start from positive coaching
  • Encourage your players to keep their feet moving. "Ball Moves, Player should Move"

 

Remember, we count from the BACK when discussing formations!

Instead of calling your game shape FORMATIONS, you can call your game shape as your STARTING SHAPE...This way you can teach your players on how the shape of your team should look like when in your half defensively and what your shape should look like when in your opponents half offensively.

Example: you are coaching a grade 5 team (9v9). You choose to play a 3-4-1 defensively but when you get in your opponents half and your team has possession, you may want to instruct your weak side center midfielder and outside midfielder to step up and join the forward so you get more players in your opponents 3rd of the field. This will give your players more options to keep possession and better chance to score. But when your team loses possession those weak side players must drop back to your defensive shape (3-4-1)
 

GRADE 2

5v5 Formations: 2-2 (with goalie)
Pros:
+ Gives balance between attacking and defending.
+ Should ensure that the defense and the attack has at least some support at all times.

 

Cons:
– Can be defensively weak if defenders join the attack and attackers are unwilling to get back and defend.
– It can be unclear which of the attackers should support the defense and which defender should support the attack if the team is inexperienced in playing together or communication is poor.

 

5v5 Formations: 1-2-1 (Diamond) (Recommended by DYS)
Pros:
+ Frees up one outright striker who can concentrate on attacking – often referred to as the ‘pivot’ (see our essential guide to the pivot here) .
+ The midfielder is likely to give the defense more support than in the 2-0-2.
+ Either of the two defenders should be able to make runs forward in the knowledge they will be supported by the midfielder.
+ Having two defenders makes it clear that if one goes forward the other should be sitting back.

 

Cons:
– The two defenders cannot simply rely on the midfielder to do all the attacking.
– The midfield player will need excellent stamina to support both defense and attack.

 

GRADE 3/4

7v7 Formations: 2-3-1 (Recommended by DYS)
Pros:
+ Frees up one outright striker who can concentrate on attacking – often referred to as the ‘pivot’ (see our essential guide to the pivot here) .
+ The midfielder is likely to give the defense more support than in the 2-0-2.
+ Either of the two defenders should be able to make runs forward in the knowledge they will be supported by the midfielder.
+ Having two defenders makes it clear that if one goes forward the other should be sitting back.

Cons:
– The two defenders cannot simply rely on the midfielder to do all the attacking.
– The midfield player will need excellent stamina to support both defense and attack.


7v7 Formations: 2-1-2-1

Pros:
+ Provides balance between defense and attack
+ Allocating a more defensive midfielder reduces the risk of all of the midfielders rushing forward without supporting the defense.
+ Wingers provide width.

Cons:
– Risk of the team operating as two separate units – the front 3 in attack and the back 3 in defense – rather than one cohesive team.
– Defensive midfielder needs to be tactically aware and a good distributor of the ball.

 

7v7 Formations: 3-2-1 (Tree)

Pros:
+ Provides solid defensive base on which to build.
+ Useful where playing against better / faster teams.

Cons:
– Lack of support to the attackers
– Lack of width and forward passing options when breaking forward

 

GRADE 5/6

9v9 Formations: 2-3-2-1

Pros:
+ Full-backs can easily drop in to form a unit of 4 at the back to help cover opposition wingers.
+ Suits fast full-backs who can quickly turn defense into attack
+ Two attacking midfielders can combine with the striker centrally, with width coming from the full-backs. Lots of options when going forward.

Cons:
– If the full-backs do not attack, this could be too defensive.
– Defensive midfielder needs to be tactically aware to cover when teammates go forward.

 

9v9 Formations: 3-2-3 (also with a drop of the 2 outside forwards you can call this formation a 3-4-1)

Pros:
+ Attack oriented and flexible
+ Has good balance between defense and attack, and provides width going forward.
+ Provides a solid three-player defensive base

Cons:
– Will require the attacking players to have the discipline to track-back to help defend.
– Possibility of being overrun in central midfield if the two central midfielders are weak, or do not receive enough support (although this can easily be adapted to a 3-1-3-1 in that case)

 

9v9 Formations: 3-4-1

Pros:
+ A more defensive version of the 3-2-3, but allows the midfield 4 to transition forward quickly – benefits a strong midfield that likes to attack.
+ Less reliance on the wide midfielders to drop back into the defensive unit, therefore tactically simpler.
+ A strong midfield unit that is not likely to be overrun.

Cons:
– Forward could become isolated up front if there is not enough support by the weak side midfielder and/or wing back.

 

GRADE 7+

11v11 Formations: 4-4-2
+  good balance between attacking and defense
+  good depth
-  might have to choose between width and controlling the midfield; the middle of the park can be a lot of ground to cover for young players!
Issue: play central midfielders next to each other or attacking/holding (up and back, in a diamond)?

11v11 Formations: 4-3-3
Midfielders play in a central triangle (2 holding and 1 attacking or 2 attacking and 1 holding); 2 wings and 1 striker up front
+  midfield triangle helps dominate the middle
+  wings give width
-  wings must track back to help defend where wide midfielders would normally be
                                                                      

11v11 Formations: 4-5-1                                                                            

+ Very defensive formation

+ Strong midfield, designed to get weak side midfielders to join with the forward when attacking

- Isolated forward takes away the counterattacking possibilities

 

11v11 Formations: 4-1-3-2
+ strong in midfield and attack
+  good width

+ Playing a central defensive mid will slow down opponents attack through the middle

-  3 in the offensive midfield position requires good coordination and lots of movement

 

Tactics - Keep it Simple
Offense

  • Get Wide - as soon as your team wins the ball, your wide midfielders and/or wingers and your defenders should head for the sideline (HEALS ON THE TOUCHLINE) where there is space (there's ALWAYS space there, as players are sucked into the middle of the field).  In space you have time; with time, you have options.  Establishing width will enable you to get around and behind the defense, and when they come out to cover you wide, they leave space in the middle.
  • 1 Back Supports the Ball - don't have your backs stay in a flat line behind the midfielders when you have the ball.  When the ball goes wide to your midfielders or wingers, have the back step up on that side and present him/herself as a passing option to the wide player.  Then, you won't have to force the ball forward into pressure if there's no opening.  You'll have a nearby option to play it back to, and all kinds of options open up from there.  So if you're playing 2 at the back in 6v6, you teach "1 up, 1 back".  With 3 at the back (usually in 8v8), your motto is "1 up, 2 back". 

Defense

  • Clog the Middle – (this one is simple).  Nobody ever scores from over by the sideline!  So take away "Route 1" by telling your team to clog the middle and force the ball wide.  ALWAYS stress to your backfield that they stay compact in the middle.  Never give the opposition an easy path up the middle to your goal.

 

Sweeper/Stopper
We strongly recommend that coaches avoid playing a sweeper system, as this too often results in a young player lagging far behind his/her teammates, out of the play.  This is not a good way to develop skills in our young players. Players need to support each other, recognize who is the 1st defender, while the other defenders become the cover (2nd) and balance (3rd) Defenders.