8v8 All Star Soccer Formations for Rec Team
2-1-3-1 vs. 2-1-2-2 vs. 1-2-1-2-1 Soccer Formations
Pressuring a ball in the corner
Advantage of a soccer Forward who is a "quick" dribbler
Advantage of a strong center midfielder

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(Following is a letter I received from a coach who was asked to coach the All Star Rec team. They play 8v8 and he asked my opinion of a 2-1-2-2 vs. a 1-2-1-2-1 and a 2-1-3-1. The best formation depends on the strengths and weaknesses of your players. Under certain circumstances, any of the above 3 formations might be best. Those circumstances are discussed below).

Hi SoccerHelp,

I have a girls U8 Rec team (8v8). 2 seasons ago you helped me by suggesting a 2-1-3-1. Playing my most talented player at stopper and "hiding" the weaker players at left and right mid field. I have had great success with that.

I've been asked to coach the Girls U9 Signature team (All-star Rec). I'm wondering, since I won't need to hide players, what formation would you suggest; 2-1-2-2?

What do you think about a 1-2-1-2-1?




Hi Aaron,

I remember you and am glad you are doing so well.

Congratulations on being asked to coach the All Star team -- that's a real honor.

At U-8, I like a 2-1-2-2 if you are going to leave your FB's sort of "deep" instead of pushing them all the way up (you could have them come to the top of the Penalty Box Arc, for example), or a 2-1-3-1 under the circumstances described below.

If you want to Push your FBs Up to the inside of the Center Circle, I might want a Sweeper to stop any fast breaks and in that case a 1-2-1-2-1 might be good. (Frankly, I wouldn't Push them Up that far unless you have a very good reason to).

If you have a fantastic player who can be a "Target Forward" and one who is a great Center Mid, I would probably play a 2-1-3-1. Having good players at the 3 MF spots could be very beneficial.

Here are the advantages I see of a 2-1-3-1 IF you have a great Stopper, a great CMF, and an aggressive, fast scorer who can take on the opposing defense and score:

  1. At U-8 it's a big plus to have a strong CMF to dominate the Center, give soft support on defense and come into the attack to help your Forward.
  2. If you have a great CMF AND a great Stopper AND a Forward who is fast and has great dribbling skills and can get off a shot, you would be VERY hard to beat. (My team was beaten by such a Forward in U-14 Rec -- he has a very "quick" dribbler who just dribbled past and around my Fullbacks to get off shots -- he scored 3 goals). Sometimes you see players at U-8 who have exceptional dribbling skills -- at U-8, if you have a player like that who is also aggressive, they will be hard to stop, and you will score more goals with that player than you would by "combination passing".
  3. Having a RMF and LMF gives you players who can Defend balls that go into the corner of your Defensive Third, so your LFB and RFB can stay near the Goal Front and avoid getting pulled away from the Goal Front. In that situation (i.e., if you are pressuring a ball in the corner of your Defensive Third and you leave your FBs in front of your goal), the "Near MF" would be the First Defender. The Stopper could be a "goalside" Second Defender (between the ball and the goal). The CMF could position herself a medium pass out from the ball (about 15 steps toward the goal you are attacking - a "step" being a U-8 step, not an Adult step) so she is in position to win a cleared ball if your MF or Stopper is able to clear it AND she is in position to stop an "back pass" by the attacker. And your Forward would shift from side to side with the ball and stay a Long Kick away (about 25 steps - a "step" being a U-8 step, not an Adult step) to be in position to win a ball that was kicked past your CMF. Also, in this situation, your "Far MF" (the MF farthest from the ball) should go to the Penalty Box Arc to stop any balls crossed to that area.

I hope this helps... please let me know.

David at SoccerHelp