7vs7 Soccer Formations, 1-1-2-2
Tips for Soccer Positions and Motivating Players
How to Get Fast Results in Limited Time
What to teach in limited soccer practice time
Team Has Scored 0 Goals in 3 Games

Hi SoccerHelp,

I am a volunteer U8 soccer coach, I love the game but my team needs HELP! We have played 3 games and lost all 3, with not one goal being made by us in any of the 3 games! We play 7 on at a time, I have 1 strong player, and at least 3 weak ones, the rest are average. I faithfully use the patches, they are awesome incentives, and they do work hard for them, I'm just not sure what we are doing wrong. We struggle to get the ball out of our end.

We don't get much practice time, usually only 15-20 before each game. Its hard to cram all the information in such a short time, and seeing as there is so much to know what would be the most critical things for me to teach my team? What's the best formation for a 7v7 game? Especially seeing as I am to rotate players and give them all a chance in the positions.

I have weak players who want to play forward but can't keep up. And no one seems to want to play defense? Most of them want to play in net, yet the ones who have, really have no clue as to what they are doing in there and let the ball cruise on by!

Amazingly we still have strong team spirit and my players are still having fun, but if this keeps up I'm sure their attitudes will change as it will get a little discouraging for them, especially since we can't even get 1 goal!

Any info or tips would be greatly appreciated. I'm pretty new to the coaching thing and I am trying to learn new things all the time to pass on to my players. Thank you so much for your time!

Coach R, Premium Member, Canada


Hi Coach R,

Thanks for being our customer and a Premium Member.

It will be helpful if I know what Soccer Formation you have been using and what "Style of Play" you have been using -- have you been having your Fullbacks "Defend Deep" or Push Up?

Boys or girls?

Here are some ideas and suggestions for you:

  1. If you are only able to practice 15 or 20 minutes before each game, that is a big problem, because that just isn't enough practice time for inexperienced players. Could you practice more? If you are allowed to practice more, I recommend finding a place and having a special 90 minute practice or two 60 minute practices. You don't need a "field" -- a gym or auditorium will work, and even half a basketball court will work, or a small outside area that doesn't have a net will work. You can use cones or strips of cloth to mark the areas you will need for the Practice Games and the rough locations of 2 �Goals� that you can use for reference while teaching positions and a new formation and Style of Play (that your FB should stay in front of your Goal and your Stopper should stop at the Halfway Line when you attack, clearing the ball, that the MFs and Fs should shift from side-to-side with the ball so they are in position to win the balls your FB and Stopper clear, etc.

  2. Does your League require you to rotate all the players? If they do, then that makes it very tough. But if they don't, then don't rotate the players. What you are seeing is that some players simply cannot be successful at some positions. I think it's better to try to put kids where they have a chance to be successful than to put them where they are doomed to fail.

  3. Use the patches to motivate and reward players, not just to make them feel good. So, designate a special patch for Defenders and DON'T give a patch for scoring. Make a BIG deal out of Defense and Bravery and congratulate defenders in front of players and parents. You need to change the attitude toward playing defense. But remember, you can put unskilled Brave players at FB, but you don't want to put timid players there or you will get killed.

  4. I recommend you try a 1-1-2-2 formation (1 FB, 1 Stopper, 2 Mids and 2 Forwards).

    1. You can't put timid players on defense, so you must put them at Mid or Forward.

    2. You can put an unskilled player at Fullback, BUT this player MUST be brave and able to clear the ball by kicking it hard. Tell your FB:

      1. Stay in front of your goal. Do NOT Push Up and Do NOT go to the corners -- just stay in front of your goal, but outside the Goal Box, or he will get in the Goalie's way.

      2. do NOT dribble the ball -- just kick the ball STRAIGHT ahead hard. Kicking it straight ahead is important, because you will tell your MFs and Fs that the ball will be kicked straight, and that they MUST shift from side-to-side with the ball and be ready for those cleared balls. SO, if your FB and Stopper kick it STRAIGHT ahead, your MFs and Fs will be in position to win those balls.

    3. Put your best athlete at Stopper and tell him he can roam, but to stop at the Halfway Line when your team is attacking. Again, tell him NOT to dribble the ball, just kick it straight ahead. The Stopper doesn't have to be skilled, but must be Fast, Brave and not afraid of contact.

    4. Ideally, put one weak player and one stronger player at MF and one weak player and one stronger player at Forward.

  5. In your limited Practice Time:

    1. First, teach Coaching Rule No. 3 -- this takes about 15 minutes and is worth 2 goals per game at U*

    2. Play the "Shoulder Tackle & Strength on the Ball" game for about 5 minutes.

    3. Play the "Throw-Ins Teaching Game" for 5 minutes to teach Throw-Ins.

    4. In any additional time you have, make it a priority to go over positions and what is expected and your formation. The reason it's a bad idea to require that all players be rotated is that you don�t have time to teach a player any position. It's very confusing to be playing a different position each game.

  6. If you get additional practice time, play "Dribble Across a Square" 4 times as a warm-up at each practice. Play "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" a lot and use it to teach Aggressive Receiving.

  7. Remember: Your opponents can't score from the sideline or from the corners. It's most important for you to be strong in the Center of the Field (between the 2 goals) AND in front of your goal. One strategy is to not pressure balls in the Corners of your Defensive Third -- tell your FB and Stopper to NOT go over there -- tell them to stay in front of your goal to defend it.

I hope these ideas help. Please let me know.

David at SoccerHelp