team shape: system of play

Each player has two roles: attacker and defender. However, that doesn’t mean traditional positions haven’t gone away. This is especially when we’re on defense where it’s important to cover the assigned area of responsibility, get back between the ball and our goal, and provide support for the team.

This season for the U10s where we play 8v8 we’ll be playing what’s called a 2-4-1 (or 1-2-4-1) with the keeper, 2 players in our back line, 4 players in the middle line (in a diamond), and 1 players in the forward line. For U11 and above we have 11 players on the field and we’ll use a system called a 4-5-1. The principles of the positions are the same in 8v8 and 11v11 with just the number of players on the field being a different.

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team shape & formations

The numbers on the field represent a traditional way of referring to positions on the soccer field. For our 2-4-1 system the number equate to the following “positions”:

#1 – (GK) Goalkeeper
#4 – (RCB) Right Center Back
#5 – (LCB) Left Center Back
#10 – (ACM) Attacking Center Mid
#6 – (DCM) Defensive Center Mid
#7 – (RM) Right Wing (Right Mid)
#9 – (CF) Striker (Center Forward)
#11 – (LM) Left Wing (Left Mid)

goalkeeper (#1)

On defense: keep the ball out of the goal, clear the ball to a safe zone when Backs can’t, communicate with the team what needs to be done to best protect the Defensive Third (since the GK has the best view of the entire field).

On attack: distribute (punt, kick, throw, or bowl) the ball to players or space that allow us to attack, push the defensive line forward, play forward when the ball is in the Middle/Final Third to clear long balls played over the defense.

center backs (#4 & #5)

On defense: stay compact in the middle of the field, play “circle to circle”, pressure every ball in the center of the field, cover defenders and passing lanes, clear the ball out of our Defensive Third.

On attack: stay compact in the middle of the field, play “circle to circle”, support back for drop passes and “switching the field” passes, and be ready to quickly fall back if the other team gets the ball.

defensive midfielder (#6)

On defense: get to the ball first, immediate pressure, regain possession, keep the other team out of Defensive Third.

On attack: defend ahead of the back line, maintain possession in the Middle Third, make long passes up and wide, quickly fall back if the other team gets the ball, be the first to pressure and delay during Transition.

attacking midfielder (#10)

On defense: regain possession in the Final/Middle Third, keep the other team out of Defensive Third, defend ahead of the back line.

On attack: maintain possession in the Middle/Final third, support wide, pass to the Wings or to space where the Striker can shoot, look for spaces on the field where you can receive a pass and shoot.

wings (#7 & #11)

On defense: regain possession in the Final Third and attack, support in the Middle Third to prevent the other team from getting to our Defensive Third, if the other team is in our Defensive Third fall back and defend the wide areas outside the 18. However, be ready to quickly run forward for a counter attack.

On attack: get the ball wide and down the field to one of the 3 key passing locations (corner of the Penalty Area, corner flag, end line towards the goal, make a pass to one of the 3 key shooting areas or take a shot if it’s there.

striker (#9)

On defense: regain possession in the Final Third and attack, fall back to the Middle Third to prevent the other team from getting into our Defensive Third, fill gaps in the Middle Third of the field to be able to Transition quickly when the ball get played out of our Defensive Third.

On attack: score goals, be a target for receiving and laying off passes to other players in shooting spaces (1-2 pass), shoot the ball, pass the ball to someone who can, dribble the ball to space where you can shoot, pass the ball to maintain possession in the Final Third.

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