9v9 Soccer Formations
1-2-1-3-1 vs. 3-3-2 vs. 2-2-3-1 vs. 2-1-3-2
U-12 soccer team in playoffs
Hiding weak soccer players at RMF and LMF
Staying strong in the Center of the Soccer Field
Defending the Corners
Why it might be best to play a weak field player as Goalie

(Following is a letter I received from a U-12 coach and my reply)

Hello SoccerHelp,

I am currently coaching an AYSO team for U12G and we are in the playoffs. I have several week players and I am hiding them in the left and right mid-field positions in using a 1-2-1-3-1 formation (Sweeper, 2 FBs, Stopper, 3 MFs, and 1 Forward).

My best players are in the goal and through the center of the field. Is there anything else I can do? Should I run a 3-3-2 instead? Most of the teams I am playing against are attacking with at least 3 attackers and I usually can only get 1 or 2 to try, any suggestions?



Hi Brian,

Thanks for being a Premium Member.

I'm going to post your letter on the Forum to see if other coaches have any advice.

I think you're much better off with a 1-2-1-3-1 than with a 3-3-2 because you have more "Depth".

If you are afraid of getting beaten on breakaways, switch to a 2-2-3-1 with 2 Stoppers and leave the 2 FBs Deep (tell them to stop at the top of the Penalty Box).

Weak players are a challenge.

Even if other teams attack with 3, you have 4 who can quickly defend.

Yes, keep your strength in the Center of the Field.

If your Goalie is a great field player and you have a weak field player who is a decent Goalie, you might consider putting the weaker player in goal � this approach has worked great for some Rec teams, read the first letter at "Stopper Importance". Here�s the conclusion: "What a difference it made to have the dominant athlete play Stopper instead of goalkeeper. We were 1-1 at the half, and won 6-2 after changing to a 2-1-2-2 and putting my most athletic player at Stopper. Goalkeeper is arguably the most important position on the field, but not if you have a field player who can significantly reduce the opponent's shots on goal as well as create more scoring opportunities for your team."

Below are my thoughts about how to defend the Corners on your Defensive Third with your 1-2-1-3-1 formation:

Since you basically have 3 FBs (with your CFB staying back as a Sweeper when you attack), when the ball is in the corner of your Defensive Third your LFB, CFB and RFB can stay near the Goal Front and avoid getting pulled away from the Goal Front and your Stopper should be the First Defender. Since your RMF and LMF are weak, I would leave them out in the midfield and have my CMF drop back to the Penalty Box Arc to stop any balls crossed to that area. In this case (when your goal is under attack) your Forward should drop back to be a long kick from the ball and shift from side-to-side with the ball.

If you must have more offense, consider a 2-1-3-2 with the 2 FBs staying deep, OR a 2-2-3-1 with 2 Stoppers, where one of the Stoppers is allowed to come into the attack and the other stops at the Halfway Line and shifts from side to side with the ball -- in this case leave your 2 FBs Deep when you attack so you don't give up goals on breakaways.

There are 4 Practice Games you should play a lot:

  1. Play "Dribble Across a Square" as a warm-up to start every practice. Play it twice with the square 10 steps wide (10 of your players steps, in your case about 8 adult steps) to teach control dribbling and then make the square 14 steps wide � the larger square will teach acceleration into open space and how to recognize "open space". After each game ask each player her score.
  2. Play the "Shoulder Tackle & Strength on the Ball Game" as a warm-up to start every practice until they are good at it.
  3. Play "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" at every practice and use it to teach "Aggressive Receiving". This game teaches many important things such as passing the ball while running, speed dribbling, turning and aggressive receiving.
  4. Play "Win the 50/50 Ball or be the First Defender, 1v1 Attacking and Defending" at every practice.

I hope this helps, please let me know what you do and how it works.

David at SoccerHelp