How to Choose a Soccer Formation

Evaluating Soccer Players and Teams

Soccer Team Evaluation Checklist and Questionnaire

22 Questions that Will Help You Evaluate Your Team

These questions will help you decide which formation and style of play is best for your team

A format for evaluating your players

Guidelines for Which Positions Players Can Best Play

Diagrams of Soccer Positions & Soccer Formations

The questions below will help you evaluate your team and players so you can decide which Soccer Formation and Style of Play might be best for you. Remember that you want to choose the Soccer Formation and Style of Play that give your team the best chance of being successful. To a degree, this means a Soccer Formation and Style of Play that works to your advantage so your best and most athletic players are in the most important positions and your timid and slow players are in positions that give them a chance of being successful and don't doom them to failure. This only applies to U8 and older. (Just have fun if you coach U4 or U6 soccer).

  1. How many players do you have?

  2. Girls, boys or mixed?

  3. How many play at a time, including the Goalie? (is it 8v8? 9v9? etc.)

  4. What Soccer Formation did you use? (Do you use a Stopper? Do you use a Sweeper?)

  5. What Style of Play did you use? (When you attack, do you Push Up your Fullbacks or have them Defend Deep (stop on the Penalty Box line, or between that lin and the Center Circle)? How far up do your Fullbacks push when your team is attacking? How many players stay on your half of the field when your Forwards are attacking your opponent's goal?)

  6. Have you taught Coaching Rule No. 3?

  7. How many good, skilled players do you have?

  8. How many fast and brave but unskilled players (i.e., good athletes who lack soccer skills)?

  9. How many timid players?

  10. How many slow players who are easily beaten by fast players?

  11. What kind of player do you play as Goalkeeper? Is your Goalie a good field player? If you need more good field players, have you considered a slow player for Goalie? Read Stopper Importance on Premium which describes the experiement a coach did where he played hsi best athlete in goal the first half and at Stopper in the second half.

  12. Controlling the Center of the Field - On defense, do you keep your players toward the Center of the field so you are strong in the Center between the 2 goals and encourage your opponent to attack down the sidelines? You MUST control the Center (where the Center Forward, Center Midfielder and Center Fullback might start the game) or you will probably lose.

  13. When your goal is under attack - How do your Fullbacks clear the ball? Do they kick it hard straight ahead, or try to dribble it out? Do your Fullbacks stay in front of your goal? Where are your Midfielders? (Do they stay a pass out from the ball and shift with the ball from side to side?) Where are your Forwards? (Do they stay a long kick away from the ball and shift with the ball from side to side?)

  14. In your soccer formation, who covers balls in the Corner of your Defensive Third?

  15. How do you assign positions? Is it based where players have a chance to be successful and can best help the team, or do you rotate players to every soccer position?

  16. Practice: What is your typical practice attendance? How often do you practice? How long? Is there a ball for every player? Do you play soccer practice games for most of the practice? Do you play drills at practice? Do you scrimmage a lot at practice? Unless you have a lot of time to ractice, your practices need to be efficient and effective so you achieve the most in limited time. Set your goal to be for 100% of your players to be "onball" for 75% of your practice. You will only be able to do this by playing soccer practice games - if you use drills at practice or scrimmage, the % of time that all your players are active with a ball may be as low as 10%. Think about it - 70% is 7 times as much as 10%. It's clear which is more productive.

  17. Do your Midfielders stay out of both soccer Penalty Boxes except in an emergency or when they are "onball" and attacking? Consider whether this would help. When your goal is under attack, you won't be abel to win cleared balls and get the ball off your half of the field if your MFs are in your Penalty Box. It is better for them to be shifting with the ball and a pass away from it, and for your Forwards to be shifting and a Long Kick away from it. That way, if your Fullbacks kick the ball straight ahead, your MFs and Forwards will be in position to win the cleared balls.

  18. Do your Fullbacks stay out of the soccer Goal Box? They should, except for an emergency or to cover a post on a corner kick, or they will get in your Goalie's way

  19. What Attacking Style of Play do you teach? Possession/Short Passes or a Counterattacking style? You won't be able to successfully play a possession/short passing style unless you have excellent players and practice a lot. If you have a Rec team, it is almost impossible because you will have "weak links". A possession style is only better if you can actually play it successfully - otherwise, you are just giving the ball away. Be realistic about your team's potential and keep it fun. You can play a possession style in the Attacking Third part of the field and if you are really good, maybe in the Middle Third too, or on the Attacking Half, and that is safer than trying to play a possession style in your Attacking Half.

  20. Have you tried our motivational patches? They really work. There are over 150 Testimonials from Soccer Coaches on SoccerHelp. You can use them to increase practice attendance, hustle, winning the ball, following instructions, assists, defense and for anything you want to encourage.

  21. How many players do you have who are both slow, timid and unskilled? (These are the toughest players to find a spot for). How many players who are slow and unskilled but brave and not afraid of the ball? (They might be good Fullbacks if you leave them Deep instead of Pushing then Up). Could any of your slow or timid players be a good Goalie? (Maybe not a great Goalie, but a good Goalie? If so, that is worth considering if your current Goalie is a great field player. Read the article titled "Stopper Importance" where a coach describes an experiement he did about this during a game. For how to test who can be a good Goalie and the basics of training a Goalie quickly, see "Goalie Selection & Training" on Premium.

  22. Do your players shift with the ball so they are keeping some "shape" and in position to win cleared balls and in position to stop attacks or in position to support their teammate with the ball? On defense, you want to keep "multiple layers of defenders" between the ball and your goal. On offense you might want "width" is you can actually use it, but if a Rec player is totally on the far side of the field, he is too far away from the ball to do any good - Rec players can't play like professional players.

Use this Format to evaluate your players:

The main factors to consider are:

  1. Bravery

  2. Speed/Hustle

  3. Skill

  4. Experienced and success in a particular position (example: has she been a successful scorer or a good Goalie)

Start by separating them into Groups according to whether they are Brave or Timid, then Speed and Hustle, Then Skill (Skill can't overcome being timid or not hustling):

  1. Best (Can play any where -- brave, good speed, hustle and skill):

  2. Brave, good athlete, speed, and hustles, but not great skill (this type of player is great for Stopper as long as you tell them to kick the ball forward and don't try to teach them to make passes until they develop the skill to do so):

  3. Brave, hustles, average speed and has skill (this type of player can play about anywhere except Stopper or Sweeper - can make a good Forward, MF or FB):

  4. Brave and hustles, average speed, lacks skill:

  5. Doesn't hustle or not a team player.

  6. Timid but hustles or has some skill (you can't play a timid player at Fullback or at Stopper or Center Mid - they can play at RMF, LMF or Forward is if they have skill):

  7. Timid and doesn't hustle or lacks skills (this player can play the fewest positions - try them at Goalie or you need to "hide" them at RMF or LMF until they become brave)

Here are some general guidelines for which positions players can best play:

  1. You need your fast, brave players on the field - try to find a slow or timid player who is a good Goalie. Read the article titled "Stopper Importance" where a coach describes an experiement he did about this during a game. For how to test who can be a good Goalie and the basics of training a Goalie quickly, see "Goalie Selection & Training" on Premium

  2. You can put an unskilled player at Stopper or Sweeper as long as you tell them to just kick the ball straight ahead or out of bounds and don't expect them to try to control it (they don't have the skill to do that).

  3. Try to find a slow or timid player who is good at Goalie -- try to keep your fastest, best players on the field.

  4. You can put slow players at Fullback if they are brave and if you Defend Deep (have them stop at the Penalty Box Line or not Push Up farther than they safely can without risking giving up goals on Breakaways), or you can have them "Push Up" if you have a great Sweeper backing them up to stop breakaways. Don't put a timid player at Fullback or you will give up a lot of goals.

  5. If a timid player has skill and a shot, they can play at Forward.

  6. If a timid player lacks skill, and can't play Goalie, the best place for them is RMF or LMF (this assumes you have 3 MFs, including a good CMF). If you play 5v5 or 6v6, and don't have enough players to have 3 MFs, the best place is probably at Forward. (For example, in 6v6, a 1-1-1-2 soccer formation).

  7. Put a skilled, brave player at CMF - this player doesn't have to have great speed, but it will help if they are a smart player - they must be brave and have good dribbling and passing skills.

  8. It will help if you have at least one very fast Forward who you leave "Pushed Up" all the time as a "Target Forward". If you send some "long balls" into the open space between this Forward and the opposing Goalie, the opposing FBs will be scared of giving up breakaways and will stay off your half of the field - this will keep the opposing FBs from pushing up so far to support their attack.

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