How to Play Soccer: Soccer Formations


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It’s important to understand soccer formations so that when you’re training and doing drills, you have a clear idea of how to use your new skills in play. If you’re a beginner, this is a good place to start.

Following is a modified transcript from the video.

First of all, the 4-4-2 is probably, certainly by name the most well known soccer formation.
The numbers relate to defense, midfield and forwards. In this instance we’re talking about four in defense, four in the midfield and two forwards. (obviously this adds up to 10 – we don’t include the keeper!)

The sweeper here, behind the center back, their role is really to cover across all that defense, it’s the last line of defense. They need to help try and clear up anything that comes through here. Tactical ability is really important here.

And you’ve got four in the midfield. Center midfield; whether you have them side by side, or if you’ve got one in front of each other, this one here, their role is much more around controlling the midfield but they want to be pushing forward in more of an attacking role. Whereas this center midfielder here is playing what they call more of a holding role, so their job is really trying to control that center field, and obviously working with the backs. This one also works in the middle but definitely more of an attacking player.

Now with your wings here, again, they’re playing in the midfield but their role is really to push right up. They’ve got to control that whole channel along here, so both as far as getting back in defense but also pushing forward in attack.

And it’s the same over here on the right, they’ve got to control this whole channel. Both pushing forward in attack, supporting forwards. But also getting back in here to help defend. So that’s the 4-4-2.

Moving on, next is the formation 4-3-3. So again, starting at the back. We’ve got the four here in the defensive line, and then this time we’ve only got three in the midfield.

The left mid still playing that sort of wing role, they’ve got to push up. Given we’ve got four at the back, they’re still going to be pushing a bit more forward. Same on the right, but this time you’ve also got three forwards so you’ve effectively got center forward, a left center forward and a right center forward. So more of an attacking formation.

The next one is a 4-2-4. So this is the most offensive, certainly the most attacking formation you can play.

We’ve got four in the back here once again. This time we’ve only got these two in the midfield. In order to do that, these guys here need to be extremely fit but also need to be very skilful because they’ve got to control that whole area. So make sure your team’s soccer skills are up to scratch, make sure you’re doing drills that improve overall fitness, speed and agility.

You need to have a lot of confidence in your midfield and obviously the idea is that they can push the ball up, into these four forwards that you’ve got in here.

It also requires that you can, between these six players, you can maintain and hold possession. It does really come down to how skillful these guys are here in the middle, no doubt about that.

The next formation is 3-5-2. It’s probably, next to the 4-4-2, probably the most next common.

So you’ll notice here, this time we’ve only got three in the back. There’s no sweeper here, so we’re relying on having these three here in the middle and what we’ve done instead, is we’ve got three in the center mid here.

Again this one’s playing a bit more of a holding role similar with this, and this one at the front certainly pushing up a bit. Again you’ve got your left mid and right mid that have got to cover all this in defense but also in attack.

And then you’ve just got your two center forwards but obviously the left and right mid designed to push right up.

Normally it might be spread across here, so if you think you’ve got five midfielders spread right across here, it’s really around more of a defensive pattern so it’s really about controlling that midfield but also having the ability for these two on the left and right wings can push-up when needed.

The last one I’m going to take you through is the 3-6-1.

This is obviously very busy in the middle, so you’ve got three in the back. This time we’ve actually got six in the middle. The idea is you’re going to be playing this is really is about holding, creating a lot of congestion through the middle of the field here, so very, very defensive. And you’ve only got that one center forward.

There are alternatives but these are some of the more common formations you might find.

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1 Comment
  1. Simon Swan says

    Short video outlining some of the most common soccer formations you can play.

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