Soccer Defending
Balls played to Corner of your Soccer Defensive Third
Should you try to win the soccer ball?
If so, should it be the Fullback, the Stopper or the Midfielder?
2 advantages of kicking the soccer ball out of bounds

(The letter below is from a U12 coach with a team good enough that they just won a tournament.)

Hi SoccerHelp,

I have recently switched our 8 aside formation from 2-3-2 to 2-1-2-2. Overall, it appears to be working well and it definitely gives us more strength up the centre. My biggest challenge is getting the Stoppers to understand what their role is, but I think I am getting there. The question that is still unresolved in my mind is how to deal with balls that go deep into our corner. Your recommendation is that the FB's stay in front of the goal and that the Stopper should be the first person to the ball. Sounds good in theory. In one of our games however, there was a long ball sent to our corner. The Stopper was a lot further away from it than the right FB, so the right FB left her post in front of the goal, went to the corner and played the ball. If we waited for the Stopper to play the ball, she might not have been first to the ball, or the ball may have gone out. How hard and fast is your rule for the Stopper to play that ball. Seems to me the most efficient thing to do there is to have the FB play the ball and have the Stopper cover the front of the goal for the right FB.

Coach Mike, Premium Member

PS. We entered a tournament this past weekend and we won the tournament. It was a 7 v 7 tournament so I used a 2-1-2-1 formation. We had very few goals scored against us. I'm not sure whether I can attribute the win to the revised formation or to the competition, but it was a nice result.


Hi Mike,

Congratulations on your tournament success. I think any time you can win a tournament, it�s a good result and something to be proud of.

You make a good point that I hadn't thought of.

This is tricky because when you think through the bad things that could happen, they are scary (I always try to anticipate what could go wrong). Here are some of them:

  1. What if your FB tries to win the ball, but doesn't, and the opponent wins it, and then there is only one FB in front of your goal because the ST doesn't cover?

  2. What if your FB wins it, pressure comes, she tries to clear it, but kicks it to a charging opponent who is headed straight toward your goal?

I'm not sure how to answer this one. The safe thing is to set your "rules" and stick to them. There's a trade-off involved in a lot of these decisions. One thing to consider is this: If the FB stays in position, your Stopper and MFs should have time to "recover" to a defensive position by the time an opponent could get to the ball and start to attack.

HOWEVER, if you feel sure that your Stopper will make the correct decision in that situation and hustle back to take that FBs spot, then I think you're right, and that might be better. I think the question is this: How confident are you that your Stopper will get back to cover for the FB? If you're confident, then you're safe doing it that way.

If you decide to do that, one way is to change your "rules" a little for what your FB and Stopper should do in that situation.

After thinking about it, here is another alternative if you're uncertain about your FB's ability to control the ball under pressure or her ability to clear the ball from your Defensive Half:

An alternative is to tell your FB to go over and kick the ball hard out of bounds (over the sideline). That does 2 good things:

  1. It slows down play so your Stopper and MFs definitely have time to recover to defensive positions.
  2. It prevents the possibility of a turnover by your FB in your Defensive Third while your FB is out of position.

Now, again, if your FB has the skill to control the ball and avoid turning it over, then you can try to control it.

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

David at SoccerHelp