How to Choose the Best Soccer Formation
4 Factors to Consider in Choosing a Soccer Formation
Your soccer formation and Style of Soccer Play can have a HUGE effect on your team�s success
The soccer formation and style of play that is best for one team might not be the best for another team
Importance of being ready to quickly adjust your formation
Have alternative soccer formations in mind
7v7 Soccer Formations, 1-2-1-2, 2-1-2-1, 1-1-2-2, 3-2-1

Hi Premium Forum,

I am trying to figure out the best 7 v. 7 soccer formation for my girls Rec U10 soccer team. Out of 12 players last spring, probably 5 are very good players (fast, aggressive, good dribblers) and the other 6 are not as fast as the 5 but are aggressive, try hard and dribble pretty well. The missing 1 is not coming back this season and she was my weakest player.

I have read multiple articles advocating a 1-2-1-2 soccer formation for a more offensive minded set or a 2-1-2-1 soccer formation with fullbacks deep for a more defensive posture and now recently I saw a 1-1-2-2. I am struggling with which formation to try and implement. This is our first season in the 7 v 7 format.

Thanks for your help.

Coach SP.


Hey Coach SP., this is Coach S,

I think there are several factors to look at when 'determining' your formation.

1) Your players -- You seem to have a great grasp on this based on your description of the girls skills. By the sound of it, you'd be fine whether you go 1-2-1-2 or 2-1-2-1.

2) Your opponent -- I've seen a lot of coaches get stuck in believing their soccer formation is going to 'beat' the other team and refuse to change even though they're getting clobbered. I was playing a 1-2-1-2 soccer formation one season and was having great success. We played another team that also played 1-2-1-2 and they were clobbering us in the first half 3-0. I know a lot of coaches that would have blamed the players for not stopping the other team, but I switched up to a 3-2-1 and went on to win the game. The other team's players were just too quick and fast for us so we 'blocked the box'.

3) Your soccer coaching goals -- Do you want to 'win' every game, or develop your players? I wrestle with this issue because I hate to lose, but I know I should be concerned first and foremost with player development. I played a 2-1-2-1 for 5 games and never had a goal scored against us because my 2 fullbacks and stopper were dominating the league. I switched to a 1-2-1-2 basically because I wanted to develop those dominant players by putting them back all alone as a sweeper. This also allowed me to put these dominant players up at forward where they weren't so dominant and let them get some minutes in so that maybe next season they'll be dominant all over the field.

4) Age of your players

Hope this helps. Have fun!

Coach S


Hi Coach SP., This is David at SoccerHelp.

First, I want to congratulate Coach S on giving excellent advice -- really insightful, solid advice. Coach S, you should copy that advice and give it to the coaches in your soccer league -- it's very helpful.

Coach SP., you are fortunate to have an excellent Rec team. Not having any really weak players makes coaching a lot easier and gives you flexibility most other Rec coaches don't have.

Since it's your first season with 7v7 and your players are very young, I suggest you start with a 2-1-2-1 soccer formation and a conservative Style of Play, and adjust from there. The 2-1-2-1 is a safe "core" formation and you won't run into what Coach S did in the 1-2-1-2 formation where he Pushed Up his Fullbacks and his Sweeper got out-numbered by attackers, and he got behind 3-0. If you have time, "scout" your opponents -- that will make it easier for you. You probably only need to watch 5 minutes of a team play to know how tough they are, if they have any great players, the formation they play, and the Style of Play they play (whether they Push Up or Defend Deep).

If you can't scout your opponents, I recommend starting every game with a 2-1-2-1, which is a safe "core" formation that you can adjust from, and leave your FBs "Deep" at the Penalty Box line when your team attacks. If you see that you require more defense, add a defender (a 2-2-1-1 or a 3-2-1) but it is more likely that when you get ahead by a goal or 2, or see that you are playing a much weaker team, that you will be able to change to a 1-2-1-2 or even a 1-1-2-2 and Push Up more to support your attack.

Coach S is right that it's very important to adjust QUICKLY if a soccer formation isn't working - don't wait until it's too late. SO, the best approach is to have alternative formations in mind and to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different formations.

If your team is really young, you can probably safely play a 1-2-1-2, or even a 1-1-2-2 as long as you leave your Sweeper inside the soccer Penalty Box and have a Stopper stop at the Halfway Line. The reason you can probably get away with that is that at young ages your opponents probably won�t be able to play very well as a team, so they won�t be able to quickly counterattack with numbers that can overwhelm your defenders.

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

David at SoccerHelp

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