9v9 Soccer Formations, 2-1-3-2 and 1-2-3-2
How to Teach Soccer Positioning
Movement on Defense and Offense
Soccer Positioning Rules and Tips

Hi SoccerHelp,

I've got the Anson Dorrance Clinic DVD, and the Soccer Success One on One DVD, and I like them both a lot. Both of these have helped me with my coaching. I've also got the Keeper DVD ordered.

I coach a competition U9 team which fields 9 players (9v9) with 3 to 4 subs, and my boys are in the lowest division (9) for their age group. I'm looking for some way to help teach them playing to position, I've read some of the material on your Premium website and that is helping, (tried teaching Shift and Sag last night) but it's still not sinking in for about half of the boys. These are the ones who either haven't played at all before, or haven't played for a year or more and aren't athletically inclined.

I'll have a look at the England Skills sample video clips, but if there's anything else you'd recommend that be great.


Simon, Premium Member


Hi Simon,

Thanks for being a Premium Member and our customer.

I don't think you need more DVDs right now. Those you have are excellent. Later on you will want to get "Coaching Set Plays" and "Systems of Play".

It will take a while (about 4 weeks of practice and coaching during games) to teach Positioning, shift and sag, and movement off the ball.

You can achieve what you want by using the tips on Premium and by using our motivational patches.

I recommend:

  1. Choose the Style of Play that works best for your team. At young ages, "Defending Deep" and a long-ball/counterattacking style of play are easier and can teach many good things such as "Passing to Space". You don't have to start out teaching a "build from the back/possession/short passing style". Start with a "linear" style of attack and emphasize going forward instead of sideways or back passing.

  2. Choose the Formation that gives you the best chance � since you play 9v9, probably a 2-1-3-2 (2 Fullbacks, a Stopper, 3 Midfielders and 2 Forwards) or a 1-2-3-2 (a Sweeper). Put your most skilled player at CMF and your fastest brave athlete at Stopper or Sweeper (the Stopper and Sweeper don�t have to have great skill at U9, but they must be able to stop an attack, so they must be fast and fearless). This formation allows you to "hide" weak players at RMF and LMF.

  3. Teach Coaching Rule No. 3 ASAP -- it's worth 2 goals per game. This is easy to teach � it takes about 15 minutes, and helps teach your players how to "mark" and some basics of positioning.

  4. Play "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" a lot and use it to teach "Aggressive Receiving" -- this is VERY important.

  5. Play "Dribble Across a Square" 4 times as a warm-up to start each practice -- twice with a 10 step wide square to teach control dribbling and twice with a 15-17 step wide square to teach Speed Dribbling/Breakaways/Acceleration into Open Space.

  6. Teach "Passing to Space" instead of "Passing to Feet". That will help your attack hugely by making it creative and fluid and you will be giving your players the foundation they need to be successful. How to teach "Passing to Space" is on Premium.

  7. Motivate your players by buying some of our iron-on motivational patches and using them to get the players to do what you want (motivate and reward the behavior you want). This is very important -- it really works and you will be amazed. Read the Testimonials and you will see.

  8. Read www.soccerhelp.com/premium/newsletter_archive/1.12.2009.shtml about a U10 team that won their tournament playing a 2-1-3-2 formation.

  9. Read Positioning Rules and Positioning Tips on Premium. Here are examples of some simple "Rules" you can teach if your FBs Defend Deep - you can use the ones that apply to your team (some don't apply if you Push Up your Fullbacks when you attack):

    1. The Center FB should NEVER go past the Goal Posts except in an emergency.

    2. The Left and Right FB's should NOT Push Up farther than the Penalty Box line (the top of the Penalty Box).

    3. The Center FB should NOT Push Up farther than the top of the Penalty Box Arc unless he is really fast and can recover; if he is fast, good and can recover, then you can let him push halfway to the center circle. (If your players are really fast and alert and can quickly "recover" so they don't give up breakaways, then you can allow the CFB or even all the FBs to come to the Halfway Line, and even participate in the attack).

    4. Clear the ball STRAIGHT AHEAD. That way your Stopper, MF's and Forwards can shift with the ball and know that it will be cleared straight ahead - they will know what to expect and can be in position to win the ball. The MFs should stay a pass away from the ball (10 to 15 of their steps) and the Fs should stay a long kick away from the ball (25 to 30 their steps). The MFs should stay a short pass apart from each other (about 10 steps) and the Forwards should stay a short pass from each other so they don't "bunch up". This will give you good spacing and field coverage of the area where the ball will be cleared - it will also give you good support to launch a fast counterattack if you win the ball, and if the ball is cleared straight ahead and you don't win it you have numbers of players in position to defend so your opponent can't easily attack your goal (i.e., you can quickly bring pressure on the ball because you have players in the area, and you will have "multiple layers of defenders" between the ball and your goal, which gives you defensive "depth" and make it difficult for your opponent to score). To teach your FBs how to clear the ball, you can play the Chips/Lofted Passes Game.

    5. Tell the RFB and LFB not to go past the Center of your goal except in an emergency -- show them where the Center is.

    6. DON'T go inside the Goal Box except in an emergency (this way they will stay out of the Goalies way).

    7. DON'T go more than a pass past the "Near Post" (show them what this means - about 10 steps). This will keep the Near FB (the FB nearest to the ball) from getting pulled far away from the Goal Front. When the ball is toward the corner, the Near FB should have shifted toward it and the Far FB (the FB farthest from the ball) should have shifted to the Center of your Goal, the Stopper should be the First Defender of the ball in the corner and the CMF should have come to the Penalty Box Arc to protect against crosses to that area.

    8. Teach your Fullbacks "First Defender/Second Defender". How to teach this is explained at "Quick Team Improvement Program No. 3"

I hope something here helps. Please let me know if it does.

David at SoccerHelp