Playing a Much Better Team in Indoor Soccer
Rec team playing an undefeated Travel team
How to have a chance and not get killed
A "Packed In" indoor soccer defense strategy
Why in indoor soccer the Goalkeeper is critical
How to select the best Goalie for indoor soccer
Importance of leaving the Forward Pushed Up
8v8, 3-3-1 Formation

Hello SoccerHelp,

On December 27th we are playing an unbelievable opponent. We are playing indoor soccer 8v8 and it is a travel team who is undefeated. We are not a travel team, we are a rec team. We were put into the same indoor division because there were not enough teams to separate the teams into 2 divisions. How do you play a team like this and have a chance to win? They are blowing people out and I do not want to see the same thing happen to us. Thanks!

Bob, U10 Girls soccer coach


Hi Bob,

Thanks for being a Premium Member.

This is very, very tough. It's made harder because you're on such a short field.

In all honesty, it would be a HUGE upset for you to win, but there are some things you can do to make it harder for your opponent to kill your team, and to give your team the best chance.

Since you are playing 8v8, to have a chance I recommend you play a 3-3-1 (3 FBs, 3 MFs and 1 Forward -- this assumes you have an indoor field that is shorter than an outdoor field and that you play off walls, which is why you need a 3-3-1 for "width") and that you "Pack in your defense" by using 3 Fullbacks who stay in front of the goal. In Indoor Soccer it's important to pressure balls in the corners of your Defensive Third because they are so close to your goal, but instruct your Nearest MF to pressure those balls. (If you played 6v6, I would recommend a 3-1-1, with the single MF playing as a Stopper, and you would have to let the "Near FB", the one nearest the ball, pressure balls in the corner and tell the other 2 FBs to stay in front of the Goal Front. Tell your FBs to clear the ball by kicking it hard straight ahead. Tell them NOT to try to pass it out, just kick it hard and hope your MF's and Forwards can win it. Keep it Simple ("KISS") so your FBs don't give up easy goals.

Since you play 8v8, this means you have 3 FBs, 3 MF's and 1 Forward. When your goal is under attack your MFs MUST come back onto your side of the field to help defend and your Forward MUST stay PUSHED UP as possible to be a scoring threat -- this is critical because it will keep 1 or 2 of your opponents off your side of the field and it will put her in position to get 2 or 3 good chances to score -- this will require patience, so ORDER your Forward to do this and make her do it, otherwise she will drift back toward your goal because that's "where the action is" -- warn her about this in advance and tell her that your team doesn't have a chance unless she stays Pushed Up and that if she doesn't "do her job" she will have to be replaced -- she will get 2 or 3 chances to score if she stays Pushed Up and will keep your opponent from being able to bring all it's players onto your half of the field. When you attack, if a MF is "onball" let her go into the attack, BUT tell the others to stay near the Center Circle to stop counterattacks straight up the Center. Your odds of scoring against this team are low and it's doubtful that your team has the skill to combine 4 or 5 passes in a row. Your biggest risk is your defenders being overwhelmed.

You will only have a chance if you have 2 things:

  1. a great goalkeeper who has quick hands and will be aggressive about coming out to block shots
  2. a scrappy forward who can fight through 2 defenders to score (if you have 2 good scorers, or 2 brave players with dribbling skill who can win cleared balls, your chances become much better)

A. I would focus on selecting the best Indoor Goalie. Below is from Premium "Indoor Tips from SoccerHelp"

BEST TIP: The best outdoor goalie may not be the best indoor goalie. An indoor goalie doesn't need a strong leg; the most important quality is quick hands. Your goalie is HUGELY important in indoor. I suggest putting the player with the quickest or second quickest hands in goal, even if it is one of your top field players. A way to test this is to stand about 5 steps away and throw the ball at them. You will soon be able to tell whose reflexes are best. However, I wouldn't make anyone play goal who doesn't want to. If you have an active goalie, let her come out with the attack if you are safely ahead or behind. In Indoor Soccer, it is surprisingly hard to score even if the goalie is out of the goal.

If you have a great Goalie who also can dribble, you might even let her come out of goal and dribble down field (which will pull defenders), then kick the ball and hustle back.

B. The following is how an underdog can win. It's from "Strategy for Playing a Greatly Superior Team"

I recently watched a very good team (team "A") lose 1-0 to a weaker team (team "B"). Everyone thought it would be a blow-out and that the "A" team would win by at least 6 goals. The "B" team coach "Defended Deep", leaving 7 back (4 Fullback's and 3 Defensive Midfielder's) and playing 2 Offensive Midfielder's and 1 Target Forward. The "B" team only had 3 or 4 shots on goal, but they sent a long ball... 1 Forward vs. 3 "A" team defenders... but the 1st Defender slipped a little and the Forward made a great shot from 20 yards out. I've seen this same strategy work for underdogs in other games. Point is, this is the best strategy against a much better team. The "B" team FB's never came past the top of the Penalty Box. Idiot parents were yelling "Push Up", but if the "B" team had, the "A" team would have probably gotten a breakaway and scored, since they had 2 excellent Forwards. It was the defensive strategy, including "Defending Deep" that won the game. In the 1998 World Cup, Paraguay almost beat France using the same strategy (France finally won 1-0 by chipping the ball softly into the middle of Paraguay's packed-in defense. Paraguay's great goalkeeper Jose Chilavert was superb in this game). There are 2 ways the underdog can hope to win:

  1. Don't give up any goals

  2. Score on a defensive error by the opponent, a lucky break (such as a ball falling your way) or by a single act of individual brilliance. In the example above, the "B" team's score was due to a small error and individual brilliance, but they only needed one goal to win.

C. More Tips from Premium "Playing a Better Team"

Be sure you have Fullback's ("FB's") who are brave and have a "defender's mentality" and then give them only 3 jobs (keep it very simple so they don't get confused and become hesitant):

  1. "Defend Deep" and stay in FRONT of the goal, but let the "Near FB" (the one nearest the ball) pressure balls in the corner (in Indoor Soccer you need to pressure those balls because they are so close to your goal) and tell the other 2 to stay in front of the Goal Front.

  2. Aggressively confront the ball when it comes near the goal and don't give any clear shots. Your FB's cannot be afraid of contact or you will get killed. Also, they cannot be afraid to block a shot.

  3. Clear the ball by kicking it hard straight ahead. Tell them NOT to try to pass it out, just kick it hard.

Good luck. Please let me know how it goes and if you have any ideas or lessons to share.

David at SoccerHelp