Indoor Soccer Formations
6v6 Soccer Formations
2-1-2, 3-2, 1-2-2, 1-1-2-1 Soccer Formation
U14 Soccer Team Has Lost 4 in a Row
Gave up 25 Goals, Scored Only 7
How to Protect Your Soccer Goal Front
How to Stop Soccer Breakaways
Importance of Depth in your Soccer Formation

(Below is Part 1 of a 2 part article. Part 2 will be in the next Newsletter. The links are to SoccerHelp Premium. If you're a Premium Member, you should only have to log-in once as long as you leave a link open)

Hi SoccerHelp,

I have formed an indoor team of good solid rec players, who all know how to play. We are playing competitive teams who have been together for years. This is a GU14-15 age bracket. We have lost each game 7-2, 6-2, 6-2 and 6-1. I have tried different formations like: 2-1-2, 3-2, 1-2-2 and it has not made a difference. The next game I was going to try 3-2, but my problem with that is if we can score with 3+ girls coming in on the attack, how well I do it with 2. I am looking for some formation suggestions and ideas to slow down these competitive teams and score more goals. We have a great goalie who probably stops 15 shots a game. I am looking for something more than use the walls. We are obviously outplayed, as we do not practice and have only been together this one season vs. the competitive teams who have been together for a few years, practice 2+ times a week etc.

Thank you!

Coach Chris, Premium Member

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Hi Chris,

First, thanks for being a Premium Member -- I see it's almost 3 years.

Obviously, you are giving up a lot of goals and not scoring many. So, the key is to try score more BUT you also must not give up as many. If not for your Goalie you would be getting killed.

Improving your defense will be easier than scoring more goals, and a new formation and Style of Play can help you with that.

Your best chance is to try to limit your opponents to 2 or 3 goals and hope you can score 3 or 4 goals.

Here are my suggestions:

  1. You need more "depth". I recommend a 1-1-2-1 soccer formation and have pasted below part of 2 Forum discussions titled "Indoor 7v7 Formations and Tactics" and "Should I Change the formation for my U10 team", Obviously the teams in the discussions are younger than yours, but the principles still apply.
  2. You MUST protect your goal front and not give up any easy goals. This means:
    1. You should leave your fullback "Deep" and tell her to clear the ball long -- DON'T try to dribble it out or even pass it out (she will turn over the ball AND lose the opportunity for a fast counterattack if she does). As you say, you don't practice and the other teams are better, SO your team's only chance of winning is to score on "Fast Counterattacks" -- you won't be able to score many goals against these opponents by playing a "short passing/controlled possession" style. You must get the ball quickly into your Attacking Third before the opposing defenders have time to "Recover" to defensive positions, and you must quickly score before the opposing defenders can Recover to strong defensive positions in front of their goal. This approach will minimize the chance of giving up easy goals, you shouldn't give up any goals on breakaways,

    2. You can't attack by using short passes -- you must use long kicks ("Passes to Space"). To score on those long kicks, 2 things have to happen:
      1. When your goal is under attack, your Forward MUST stay Pushed Up in a position to win those balls. Your Forward's job is to WIN THOSE LONG KICKS and SCORE. That is all. NOT to play defense and NOT to play midfield. Your Forward MUST stay Pushed Up and shift from side to side with the ball and WIN at least half of the cleared balls and the long kicks. If your Forward can't do that, then you will lose and should try another player at Forward.

      2. When your goal is under attack, your 2 MF's MUST stay out near the Halfway Line and Shift from side to side with the ball (while staying a pass apart so they have good coverage of the Middle Third). This will put them in position to do 3 things: (1). to win balls that are cleared short, (2). to Join your Forward in attacks on balls that are kicked long (when the ball is kicked past them by your FB or Stopper, they MUST run up to support your Forward and be in position for rebounds and passes to the goal front), (3). to slow down, steal the ball or stop attacks if the opposing team wins the balls that are cleared long -- it is CRITICAL that your MF's pressure the ball any time an opponent has it in Your Attacking Half, this will stop fast counterattacks and your MF's should be able to win the ball some in an advantageous position, SO they must be aggressive in pressuring opponents who have the ball in your Attacking Half

    3. Your Forward and MFs staying Pushed Up when your goal is under attack will force the opposing defenders to stay Deep to mark them, which will keep those opposing Defenders from Pushing Up to support their attack, which should make it harder for your opponent to score.

  3. All your players MUST be disciplined and play their position and trust their teammates to do their jobs.

    1. Your FB must stay in front of your goal (but not so close as to be in the Goalie's way) and let the Stopper pressure balls to the side and out front (the FB stays within 7 steps and the Stopper stays within about 20 steps). This means you DON'T pressure balls all over the field -- focus on the "Danger Zone". Let your opponent bring the ball down the side and let them have the corner, but make it HARD for them to get a clean shot from the front.
    2. Your MF's must not come back into your Defensive Third -- they must stay in the Middle Third, win those balls and then rush to help your Forward attack -- so they cover about 2/3 of the field.
    3. Your Forward MUST stay Pushed Up (should NOT go onto your Defensive Half except if she can easily win a loose ball). and MUST win 50% of the cleared balls. Otherwise, the ball will be kicked long and no one will be there to fight for it and your opponents will get it.
    4. Stay strong in the Center and let your opponents have the "wings". You can't defend the entire field, so you have to defend the Center which is the most important part. You can give up the wings and still win, but if you lose the Center (between the 2 goals) you will lose the game. The only exception to this is that when an opponent has the ball in your Attacking Half, your MF's MUST pressure the ball and try to steal it no matter where it is. If they can win the ball back, that will stop your opponent from attacking AND your MFs and F should try to go straight to goal to try to score quickly before the opponents can get in defensive positions.
  4. Put your fastest and most aggressive player either at Stopper OR at Forward. Please let me know the types of players you put at these positions and how it works.

Below are parts of correspondence from the Premium Forum.

Please let me know what you do and how it works.

Thanks for writing and for being a Member.

David at SoccerHelp

From "Should I Change the formation for my U10 team" in the Premium Forum:

Hi SocccerHelp,

We had our first game last night and won 4-1 (we lost to this team last season) using a 1-1-2-1 formation with a Stopper and FB playing deep. I kept the forward up at the mid-line and had her track the ball and shift from side to side for passes up to her. The formation made a huge difference because I am able to better match the individual skill sets of the girls to positions in which they can excel.

Also, my team is very strong in the Center of the Field where as you know is the danger zone on defense and target zone on offense. In addition to your tips about marking behind, etc. which also work extremely well; I always emphasize quick throw-ins down the line. We gain a lot of territory with this strategy and rarely put our team in a bad position after a throw-in.

Coach U

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Hi Coach U,

That's excellent. Thanks for sharing this. It sounds as if your offense is better -- you were averaging 2 goals per game and scored 4 in your first game, a 100% improvement.

Your 1-1-2-1 has the advantage that you can have the Stopper "Push Up" as far as you think is safe when you attack based on her speed to "recover" (she can Push Up as far as you think she can, yet still be able to "recover" in time to help out your FB when needed). when your MF's and Forward attack. It gives you more depth and the stacked formation allows you to have better field coverage. I'm sure you are having your Fullback stay toward the Center (instead of getting pulled toward the sideline) and having your Stopper shift from side-to-side with the ball. If you leave your FB Deep and have a good Goalie, and if your Stopper is fast, it would be pretty safe to have the Stopper Push Up to the Halfway Line and shift from side-to-side with the ball. That would put the Stopper in position to win any cleared balls AND to stop an attack. It would have to be a great U10 Rec team to score against you, and by having the Stopper support your attack, your team should score more goals. You might want to try it when you get a lead. The critical thing will be to teach the Stopper to have the discipline to understand that her Main job is defensive -- to "Stop" the balls that are cleared and to "Stop" the attack, and to basically stay on the Halfway Line so she is in position to "Recover" to a defensive position to help your FB defend your goal.

I agree that it's critical to be strong in the Center of the Field - if you control the Center of the Field, you will almost always win the game.

By leaving your Forward Pushed Up at the Halfway Line, shifting from side-to-side and having your FB, Stopper and MFs clear the ball straight ahead, you will start to get some Breakaways and the opposing FBs won't be able to Push Up as far (her position will keep the opposing FBs from crowding up to support their attack).

Thanks for writing,

David at SoccerHelp

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Hi SoccerHelp,

I am playing the 1-1-2-1 exactly how you just described it in your reply. I am working with a great group of girls who follow instructions very well. My stopper is my fastest and biggest player who is more defensive minded than offensive although she did score on a beautiful attack right up the center of the field when no one on the other team challenged her. My fullback basically is assigned the middle 80% of the penalty box and the MF drop to the sides as needed to stop an attack or get a loose ball.

Update- we won Saturday 6-1 against a team we beat last season 2-1. The score easily would have been 12-0 had I not played kids out of position the whole second half.

Coach U

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Hi Coach U,

WOW!!! That's great... Well, it sounds like you've solved your scoring problem.

Why are you now scoring so many more goals than last season? You played the same team and scored 6 vs only 2 last season, and could have scored 12 -- What's the difference? I'm very interested in this, because obviously you have found the answers. You are scoring in a way most coaches only dream about.

Thanks for sharing.

David

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Hi SoccerHelp,

The main reasons for increased scoring are that 1-1-2-1 really suits my team. Also, several of my players have improved tremendously since last season (it is a U10 league and I have 7 U9's and only 2 U10's, so my U9's have all gotten better). My daughter maybe scored 1-2 goals last season but already has 5 goals in 2 games and 2 scrimmages playing limited time at forward.

Last year I hid my worst players at Right forward was not strong in the center on offense. Now I hide my worst players at RMF, but I am still strong in the center with a good stopper and forward. Also, unlike last year, even my worst players are brave and can play FB.

The other coaches clearly are not seeing what I am doing to them on offense, or defense for that matter, because in reality my talent is not really superior to the other teams. My forwards score half their goals on break-aways from good passes upfield from the stopper. The other coaches generally do not defend deep enough and get in trouble. I am also now finding that passing is contagious. It is like a light went off after we scored some goals on good passes, and they see the benefits of pass rather than trying to get around multiple defenders. Plus, with constant emphasis on quick down the line throw-ins, marking up behind, etc. My girls seldom put themselves in a bad position on the field.

Coach U

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From "Indoor 7v7 Formations and Tactics" in the Premium Forum:

5. I've just got to say this, also. Don't be afraid to play your best all-around player at a SW or ST position. It is amazing how well my best all-around player disrupted the other team in the second half of the game last night. I think most other coaches would play her at F or MF because of her ball control skills and speed. If you have other players that can create scoring opportunities for your team... I highly recommend trying your best all-around player at a SW or ST position.

(The above is Part 1 of a 2 part article. Part 2 will be in the next Newsletter)

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