7v7 Soccer Formations, 2-1-1-2 vs 2-1-1-1-1
The "KISS" Method of Soccer Coaching
"Rules" that Make it Easier to Teach Soccer Positions and Soccer Formations
Advantages of "Stacking" Soccer Forwards
Winning Cleared Balls in the Soccer Midfield

Hi SoccerHelp,

I'm running into problems by putting my weak players in midfield. My U10 league only plays 7v7. I generally run 2-1-1-2. I've got 2 really strong forwards that work well together and 2 really good fullbacks. I put my weaker players at Stopper (I know this breaks with general wisdom that I agree with as I've used a really talented Stopper to great advantage in other seasons), but my Fullbacks are so good I am OK giving up this tactical advantage) and center mid-fielder.

When we play teams that are weaker than us my Fullbacks can get the ball to the Forwards without any problem and they can get many breakaways. When we play teams that are as good as we are the fullbacks and forwards have a difficult time connecting. The weaker players at stopper and CMF aren't a lot of help moving the ball forward and often get in the way of the forwards AND the fullbacks.

I've definitely gotten some great ideas from David's last post. My biggest challenge with coaching mid-fielders has been explaining 'where they play'. I am planning on telling them they should play on whatever side of the field the ball is on, but they cannot go into either team's Penalty Box area.

Coach S, Premium Member


Hi Coach S,

First, congratulations on becoming good at analyzing your players and determining your strengths and weaknesses.

You are on the right track - "KISS" is the key (Keep It Simple).

You have to give most young Rec players specific boundaries so it is clear to them what to do.

Here are some examples from Premium:

  1. The one you mentioned: Tell your MF's to stay out or the Penalty Box on either end unless they can score or unless they must go in to stop the opponent from scoring a goal.
  2. Your RFB and LFB should never go past the Center of the Goal and should stay out of the Goal Box so they aren't in the Goalies way (except in an emergency).
  3. When your goal is under attack, tell your Stopper, MF and F's to "Shift" from side-to-side with the ball and tell your Fullbacks to clear the ball STRAIGHT AHEAD. That way your Stopper, MF and Fs will be in position to win the ball. Clearing it Straight Ahead is critical -- that way your players are in position to win the ball AND if they don't win it, they are in position to stop an attack (you will have "multiple layers of defenders" between the ball and your goal). Also, you avoid the possibility of "Switching the Play" by unintentionally clearing the ball to the "Back Side" of the goal that might be undefended (I've seen this happen and it can allow the opponent to get an easy goal). Tell your Stopper to stay a short pass from the ball (about 10 of his steps), the MF to stay a Long Pass from the ball (about 20 of their steps), and the Fs to stay a long kick from the ball. Your 2 F's should stay a short pass apart (about 10 of their steps).

The best way to teach this is on the field. If you practice on a real field, do it at practice. If not, do it before your game.

Here's an idea that I think might help you: Consider putting one of your Forwards as a "recessed Forward" which will look like "stacked Forwards" and at times your formation will look like a 2-1-1-1-1. For example, when your goal is under attack, your formation would look like a 2-1-1-1-1. The slower of your 2 Forwards would come in front of the other one the distance of a Short Pass (about 10 of his steps) and your fastest F would stay on the Halfway Line, which will keep opposing FBs off your side of the field AND put that fast F in position for breakaways. Both of the Forwards would shift from side-to-side with the ball, so they are in position to win the ball when your FBs or Stopper clears the ball Straight Ahead. When you win the ball and attack, the 2 forwards work together as they normally would.

If you try this, please let me know how it works. I believe the "stacked Forwards" idea can help solve your problem of winning the ball.

David at SoccerHelp