How to Assign Soccer Positions
How to Evaluate Soccer Players
This can make a HUGE difference
Bravery, Speed/Hustle, Skill and Experience
Best soccer positions for timid, slow & unskilled players
Best soccer positions for brave, skilled, average speed players
Best soccer positions for fast, brave, unskilled players

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For Select Players see, Soccer Tryouts Evaluation Form

NOTE: This article ONLY applies to soccer teams U8 and older. If your team is U6, just play the Practice Games and have fun.

The article below combines 3 Premium articles.

The main factors to consider when evaluating players for soccer positions are:

  1. Bravery (are they fearless, aggressive and tough?)
  2. Speed/Hustle - Have a 40 step foot race to determine speed. Play the Small Sided Scrimmage Without a Goalie Practice Game for 10 minutes to determine skill, leadership qualities and who hustles.
  3. Skill - Play the Dribble Across a Square, Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race, Chips/Lofted Passes and Small Sided Scrimmage Without a Goalie Practice Games to determine skill levels.
  4. Experience and success in a particular position (example: has he or she been a successful scorer or a good Goalie)

For Rec Players see the Premium article Evaluating Rec Soccer Players

There are 7 critical things to watch for:

  1. Who likes to play defense & is a brave, tough defender (a good defender doesn't have to have great ball skills and in Rec soccer can have weak skills, but look for those who are not afraid of contact and who will step in front of a shot and block it with their body; see Assigning Positions for more)
  2. Who has talent as a scorer and which side they like to play (especially true if you have a good left footed player) or if you have a player who is a natural "striker" and would be a good center forward (read Assigning Positions)
  3. Which players are good passers and which are poor passers.
  4. Who is a ball hog, not a team player or a disruptive influence.
  5. Who has very weak skills or is afraid of contact even if they have good skills (you do not want to put either of these at Fullback, see Assigning Positions).
  6. Who is an impact player in terms of winning the ball, forcing turnovers and breaking up the opponent's attack. This may be a player who is simply" good" and can play a variety of positions or it may be someone who would make a good CMF, Stopper or CFB; in any case you probably want this type of player in the center of the field.
  7. Who are your best dribblers? If you have a really great dribbler who can quickly change direction, think about putting him or her at Forward to "take on" the defense - pulling defenders out of position can create scoring opportunities and you can pair this player with a good scorer who the dribbler can pass to if he can't get a good shot.

Start by separating a list of your players 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). Just do this on paper:

  1. Best (These are the players who can play anywhere -- they are brave, fast, 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 isn't 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)

Below are some guidelines for which soccer 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 Soccer Importance where a coach describes an experiment 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). (NOTE: a great Stopper can be worth 2 goals per game. See Stopper Importance)
  3. How to Select a Goalkeeper: Try to find a slow or timid player who is good at Goalie -- try to keep your fastest, best players on the field. (The following is from Goalie Selection & Training on Premium: I don't put anyone in goal unless they want to play there. I ask who wants to play goal, or who has played it, and test their skills by having them punt the ball, seeing how far they can kick the ball, throwing it at them from about 5 and 10 steps away to see if they have "good hands", and being sure they know how to move to cut the shot angle, how to catch a ball and how to deflect a shot off to the side and over the crossbar. Ideally, a goalie is quick, but there are more important things in rec soccer. In rec soccer, height helps and the ability to clear a punt is very important, or the other team will bring pressure and get scoring opportunities. A long goal kick isn't as critical; you can have another player take those. I have had several goalies who were good but would have been average at best anywhere else on the field. These were large boys who were slow with below average ball skills, but they were good in goal. In rec soccer, a great goalie can make a huge difference and can be worth 2 or 3 goals.
  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 Right MF or Left MF (this assumes you have 3 MFs, including a good CMF, in a soccer formation such as a 3-2-3-2 or a 2-1-3-1). 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.

Also see Soccer Positions Overview and Soccer Positions.

David at SoccerHelp

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