11v11 Soccer Formations

11v11 Soccer formations, soccer positions and styles of play for teams ages 8-adult. How to select the formation that best fits your team.

Soccer Positions Diagrams for 11v11 Soccer Formations

The soccer formation and style of play you choose, and how you assign positions, will have a huge impact on how well your team plays, how much fun they have and how many games they win.


Below is one of the 21 articles on SoccerHelp Premium about 11v11 soccer formations.

Most Rec teams and some youth select teams are better off to play a soccer formation that has more depth, such as a 3-2-3-2. A 3-2-3-2 allows a coach to stay strong in the Center of the field at Center Midfielder and Center Fullback and to put 2 fast, brave players at the 2 Stopper positions, and to put timid players at Right Midfield or Left Midfield. If you Defend Deep, you can put players who are slow but brave at Right Fullback and/or Left Fullback (you don't want to put timid players at Fullback - see How to Evaluate Players and Assign Soccer Positions ).

How to assign positions and teach players how to play a 3-2-3-2 soccer formation is discussed below.

Below is one of the 21 Articles on SoccerHelp Premium about 11v11 Soccer Formations. Premium is as low as $14.94 for 30 days and only $39.95 for a year. Read about Premium or Sign-Up

This Article Discusses: Which 11v11 soccer formation and style of play is best for a U14 Girls Rec team? Discussion of 3-2-3-2, 3-3-4 and 3-2-2-3 soccer formations. How to assign and teach players to play 3-2-2-3 and a 3-2-3-2 soccer formations. The other 20 articles on Premium also discuss 11v11 soccer formations such as 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 3-3-3-1, 3-3-2-2, 1-3-1-3-2, 3-2-1-2-2, 3-1-4-2, 3-1-1-4-1, 1-2-1-3-3, 3-3-4, 4-1-3-2, 4-3-2-1, 3-1-3-3, 3-1-2-1-3, 4-1-2-2-1, a 1-2-1-3-3, 3-1-3-3 and 1-3-4-2.

Dear SoccerHelp,

Great information here.....very insightful.
I'm coaching a Girls U-14 Rec. team. I'm considering going to the 3-2-2-3 you recommend.
Here's the make up of my team:

2 good finishers who can also dribble and pass
2 good halfbacks/fullbacks who can dribble and pass and are fast
2 big, slow, non-aggressive players but they will block the ball with their body. One of them plays goalie.
2 big players who have good field presence and can move reasonably fast for short distances. One has reasonable endurance. They will both block the ball with their body. They both play goalie.
2 aggressive players with great legs but not good dribblers
4 players that are good dribblers, good positioners, pretty fast, but have weak legs and are not domineering
1 player with a great leg, a great throw in but is not domineering
1 player has a great leg but otherwise is just out of it.

If I understand the 3-2-2-3 concept, it allows me to play the slower, less aggressive players at fullback (what about sweeper (MFB))?

Can the 3-2-2-3 work for this team? I think it can work for my starters but what happens when I sub in, and who would be the best to sub in at stopper?. It's a Rec. league everybody is supposed to play for at least a ½.

When using 2 stoppers who should take the throw in? If the OMF takes it who should be receiving it?

Would it work to go with a 3-3-4. Put my 2 good halfbacks at fullback, move one of the stoppers to sweeper and push them up? Keep my midfield strong by pulling my 2 finishers back and then hope that my less domineering players get so many opportunities to score that we win 1 to 0?


Dear Bobby,

To answer your questions:

  1. Yes, it allows you to play slower players at FB and to not sub them much (unless you want to or have a lot of subs), which leaves more subs for MF and Forward. However, you must put tough players at FB, and , ideally, players who can clear the ball.

    A 3-2-2-3 soccer formation is 3 Fullbacks, 2 Stoppers (Defensive Midfielders), 2 Offensive Midfielders and 3 Forwards. The 3 Fullback's (Right, Center, and Left) play as a "flat back 3" and play a basic zone, but man-mark when attackers come into the goal-front area. It doesn't use a rear sweeper, instead it uses 2 Stoppers (Left and Right) who play in front of the FB's (these can also be called Defensive Midfielders, but Stopper is a term that players may understand better). These Stoppers should stay toward the center of the field to stop attacks down the center (almost like 2 Center stoppers); their job is to either clear the ball off your half of the field or force the attackers toward the sideline. The exception to this is that when they force the attack toward the sideline in your Defensive Third, the closest Stopper must drop back to pressure the ball and the other Stopper (the one farthest from the ball) should go to the Penalty Box Arc to stop the ball from being centered into that area, and to clear bad clearances by the FB's or rebounds that might occur from shots, and to mark attackers who might come into that area. Tell your Stoppers to stop at the Halfway line on your attack unless one of them is a good dribbler and has speed, in which case it may be okay for her to participate in the attack if she is onball and if she is fast enough to recover and play Stopper if the ball is turned over.

  2. Yes, the 3-2-2-3 can work for your team, but I think a 3-2-3-2 might work better. A 3-2-3-2 soccer formation is 3 Fullbacks, 2 Stoppers (Defensive Midfielders), 3 Offensive Midfielders (OMFs) and 2 Forwards. My thoughts:

    1. Your 2 finishers should be at Forward. Whether you play 2 Forwards (a 3-2-3-2) or 3 (a 3-2-2-3) should depend on how well these 2 work together, whether you have MF's who can come into the attack, whether you need to hide one or two players at Right Offensive Mid (ROMF) and/or Right Offensive Mid (this is the safest place for a really weak player to play), and whether you have a strong player who can play COMF. If you play 2, tell them to try to get into scoring position as much as possible and have your OMF's try to feed the ball into the open space in front of the goal. When your goal is under attack, have your F's stay pushed out toward the Halfway line so they can break on through balls. This will also force 2 or 3 of the opposing defenders to stay off your side of the field.
    2. I think a 3-2-3-2 might work better for you because it will allow you to hide a player at either Right Offensive Mid (ROMF - right and left are as you face the opposing goal) or LOMF (or you can even play weak players at both ROMF and LOMF and get away with it). You can't put really weak players who are afraid of contact at FB and you don't want to put them at Right or Left Stopper unless you must (if you do have to put a weak player at Stopper, you MUST leave a strong player at the other Stopper position).
    3. From your 4 players who are good dribblers, select 2 to come up front. One should play COMF and the other ROMF or LOMF, depending on whether she is right or left footed. You can sub these 2 with the other 2 and with your Forwards, since they will be running the most.
    4. Put your 2 halfbacks as Stoppers. Sub them with one of the 4 players mentioned in b., or with one of the players with a big leg, but always keep one strong Stopper on the field.
    5. You MUST have FB's who are tough, not afraid of contact (i.e., they will try to win 50/50 balls) and who, ideally, can clear the ball. The reason the 3-2-2-3 and 3-2-3-2 work with slow FB's is because you have enough "depth" (i.e., 4 layers of players) that the FB's can Defend Deep and not come out past the Penalty Box Line. This means they won't get beat on fast breaks and won't run much, so they don't have to be subbed if you are short of subs. They won't be tired in the 4th quarter and you can use your subs to give your MF's and Forwards a break. You especially must have a tough Center FB. The second most important FB depends on whether your opponent has a better RF or LF (since more Forwards are right-footed, the LFB is usually more important). I suggest putting your 2 aggressive players with great legs at FB and telling them to just clear the ball, and to NOT dribble it (at least at first). Tell them to clear it straight ahead. This way, your DMF's, OMF's and Forwards can all shift with the ball and be positioned to win the cleared balls. Also, this is less risky that a diagonal clearance which might allow the opponent to "switch fields" and get an easy goal on the "weak" side of your defense.
    6. This has accounted for 10 of your players and one at goalie makes 11, leaving 5 if they all show up for the game. The player who is "out of it" might be a good Right Fullback or Left Fullback if she is brave - if she is timid, the best position for her is ROMF or LOMF..
    7. The 2 big, slow non-aggressive players should rotate at goalie, LOMF or ROMF.
    8. The 2 big players with good field presence might be good FB's. You say they will block the ball with their body and can move fast for short distances. Have them practice lofted kicks to clear the ball. If they can clear the ball 15-20 yards, they can be good FB's. Or, they might be good at COMF, or one of them can play at Stopper if you match her with a quicker player and have her stop at the halfway line when you attack.
    9. The player with a great leg and a great throw-in might be good at a Stopper position (you can have her come up to take some throw-ins), or at COMF.
  3. Regarding throw-ins, you can have one of the Stoppers come up, or the nearest OMF. I suggest trying to either throw over the defenders toward goal (or down the line), or if the opponents are backed up , to have the receiver pass it back to the thrower.
  4. I'm skeptical about the 3-3-4. Read the many letters on Premium from coaches who used the 3-2-2-3 or 3-2-3-2. My last 2 seasons as a coach I was 15-1 using this approach in a Rec league with 2 different assigned teams. I think you will have more fun using it. Give it a try.

Please let me know how this works for you.

Best wishes,

David Huddleston

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