How to Score More Soccer Goals
7v7, 1-1-2-2 vs. 1-2-1-2 and 2-1-2-1 Soccer Formations
Pushing Up the Stopper to Support a Soccer Attack and Increase Scoring

Hi SoccerHelp,

I coach a U7 girls team that plays 7 v. 7 with goalies. It was our first year on a larger field with larger goals, goalies, referees, etc... We were very dominant on the smaller field with no goalies and little goals. The new field was definitely an eye opener. The season is over and I have learned many things.

At the time of my last post the recommendation was a 2-1-2-1. I was debating a 1-2-1-2. I tried both and they did not work out for my team. The play at this age is primarily dribbling, especially for the other teams. My team does pass, but more vertically than horizontally or back. The other teams just dribble.

In light of that I implemented a 1-1-2-2 with my strongest players at midfield to cover the defensive as well as offensive end.

We had nine games. The first three were with the 1-2-1-2 or 2-1-2-1. We tied the first game 0-0; tied the second 1-1; and lost the third 2-1. The remainder of the games (with new positioning) went 4-1 Win; 4-0 Win; 4-0 Win; 3-0 Win; 0-0 tie; and 3-0 loss in the finale against the best team in the league (we got second).

As you can see from the end, we could not score goals and despite the scores of the wins struggled scoring goals then too. The games had multiple more opportunities.

The reason for my post is regarding the offensive end of the field and alignments. I have one exceptional player that did most of the work whether scoring or on assists and other than that we really struggled scoring consistent goals. When she was off, we were off and I really had no one to score.

My lineup typically consisted of my weakest players at the forward position (4 of them) so they would alternate quarters. My Two strongest players would play midfield. They are skilled and pretty fast. My next strongest players (but smaller and slower) played the one fullback position, while my sweeper position was played by a fast strong defender that shut anything down that got through. This was my typical lineup that worked great against weaker teams.

When we met teams who were more skilled or had goalies that would come out of the goal to cut off the angle, we struggled mightily to score. In fact, the tie in the second to last game was the second worst team in the league but had goalies that would come out and attack the ball, which shut us down.

My midfielders would also run themselves ragged.

As you can see by the scores, we had a decent defense, but I am struggling with how to score more goals. I found out the hard way that our team is small and slow for the most part so that makes it even more difficult.

Any advice you may have would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for the long post, but I wanted you to have the full picture.

Thanks, Coach Chris, U8 TX, Premium Member

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Hi Chris,

Congratulations on your season. Given how you describe your team, I think you did great and better than anyone would have reasonably expected. You obviously don't have many great players and overall your team is small and slow.

I think your defense did great - until your last game against the best team in the League you only gave up 3 goals in 8 games and after you changed to a 1-1-2-2 you only gave up one goal in 5 games. I suspect that your players kind of melted against a team that was clearly better, so a 3-0 loss against the best team is good.

The thing that I have to keep in mind about U8 is that it is very different from U10 and U12, so the advice that would apply to U10 and U12 doesn't necessarily apply to U8.

Here is a summary of your team that I copied from your letter:

-- our team is small and slow

-- I have one exceptional player that did most of the work whether scoring or on assists and other than that we really struggled scoring consistent goals.

-- My lineup typically consisted of my weakest players at the forward position (4 of them) so they would alternate quarters.

-- My Two strongest players would play midfield. They are skilled and pretty fast.

-- My next strongest players (but smaller and slower) played the one fullback position

-- my sweeper position was played by a fast strong defender that shut anything down that got through (I assume this player played behind your Fullback)

It sounds like your 1-1-2-2 was a Sweeper, Fullback, 2 Midfielders and 2 Forwards.

Keep in mind that most decisions have trade-offs, so be prepared to quickly change back if you see that something is counterproductive.

As I said, I think you are already "overachieving" so I don't think there is a lot you can do, but here are some ideas:

1. Change your Sweeper to be a Stopper so your formation is a Fullback, Stopper, 2 Midfielders and 2 Forwards. I recommend you allow the Stopper to Push Up into your attack as described below by Coach Aaron:

"In a 1-1-3-1 soccer formation I put my daughter who is skilled but slow at Sweeper (as a single Fullback) and let my fast aggressive Stopper push up instead of stopping at the Halfway Line. Wow, what a difference. The ball stayed in our attacking third I would say 85% of the game. I just played my daughter deep on the penalty box line. My goalies never touched a ball the whole game. I even let my Stopper take the ball and dribble it straight at the goal and she got three shots on goal." Coach Aaron, U8, Premium Member

At U8 the teams usually don't have much passing skill and it is fairly easy to break up an attack, so by staying on the Penalty Box line you won't give up any goals on breakaways and your Fullback should be able to slow down any attack until your Stopper and Midfielders can recover to help defend. Tell your Fullback to just kick the ball hard straight ahead or if under pressure to just kick the ball out of bounds if needed - the only thing to tell your Fullback not to do is try to dribble because they might lose the ball and then an opponent could go straight to your goal.

2. Have you taught Coaching Rules 1, 2 and 3? They are easy to teach and can be worth 2 goals per game at U8. They will allow you to control your opponent's throw ins, goal kicks, punts and free kicks. Here is what Coach Bob said:

"Coaching Rule No. 1 (Don't get thrown over) really is worth a couple goals a game. When we marked up properly, we easily won the ball 90% of the time. Super easy to teach, and super easy to coach from the sidelines." Coach Bob, U10, Premium Member

3. Play the following 4 games at practice:

-- Play "Dribble Across a Square" at EVERY practice as a warm-up. This game will help your players HUGELY in many ways. Play it twice with a square that is 8 of your steps wide and then twice more with a square that is 14 of your steps wide to teach acceleration into Open Space (how to "Breakaway"). If you play it at every practice, after 4 weeks you will notice that most of your players are better dribblers than the other teams AND that your players are more confident with the ball. Here is what Coach Philip said:

"My U12 girls won the end of year tournament. The main thing I saw in my girls was a huge increase in their confidence while playing. Some of that was better skills, but more important was being used to playing under pressure and in chaotic conditions due to the Soccer Help practice games." Philip, U12, WA, Premium Member

-- Teach your girls to be more physical and not afraid of contact by playing the Shoulder Tackle & Strength on the Ball soccer practice game until they are used to contact and aren't afraid to use their shoulder to push the player with the ball. Here is what Coach Chuck said:

"This Game made an immediate improvement on my boys on how to fight for a ball." Coach Chuck, U-10 Boys

-- I would play "Win the 50/50 Ball or Be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking and Defending" soccer practice game quite a bit. Here is what Coach Troy said:

"You know you are doing the right thing when you say practice is over after 90 minutes in 93 degree heat and 7 year old girls still want to play the "Win the 50/50 Ball or be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking and Defending" soccer practice game." Coach Troy, Premium Member, MD USA

-- Try the "Chips/Lofted Passes" soccer game to see if you can teach your players how to clear the ball and how to chip it. Your players are young, but perhaps a few of them can chip it over the defenders.

Please let me know what you do and what works.

Thanks for writing,

David at SoccerHelp

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