4-4-2 Soccer Formations and Hiding weak players, Counterattacking Soccer Formations

Soccer Help,

In reviewing formations for 11 aside I found very little on a 4-4-2. Through out this year we ran a 3-2-2 for 8 aside, I alternated between using a stopper and a sweeper in the middle depending on the situation. My initial thought is to have both at 11 aside and add two outside mids. I have always approached our defense as a attacking style so we push up quite a bit. I also thought in a 4-4-2 that I could use the outside mids as a place for the less skilled spots as long as I keep the middle tight. By the way we are a competitive rec team.



Hi Jerry,

We don't recommend a 4-4-2 using a "Flat Back 4" for Rec teams, because only travel teams who practice a lot and have 4 fast, skillful Fullbacks can play it, and if you play 4 across you gain "width" but give up "depth", and most Rec teams need Depth more than Width. There are a lot of formations described that would fall into the "4-4-2" category, but we call them names that more accurately describe the formation. For example: many coaches would call a "1-2-1-4-2" a 4-4-2.

I agree with your thinking about using 4 Midfielders and putting your weak players at Right MF and Left MF, and leaving strong players in the 2 Center MF positions. You can take what you have played and play a "1-2-1-4-2 " (a Sweeper, 2 FB's and a Stopper). You don't give your team's age, but as you move up, you will face teams that attack by leaving their Forwards pushed up to the halfway or your FB's and use fast counterattacks. If you need to "Defend Deep", you can play a "3-1-4-2" (3 Deep Fullbacks and a Stopper) or a "2-1-1-4-2" (2 deep Fullbacks, an "Advanced" Center Fullback who plays a little in front, and a Stopper).

Keep this rule in mind: Unless you have Fullbacks who are as fast as the opposing Forwards or a GREAT Sweeper, you are vulnerable to a fast counterattack.

Keep this rule in mind: Unless you have Fullbacks who are as fast as the opposing Forwards or a GREAT Sweeper, you are vulnerable to a fast counterattack.

When you play teams who "push up their FB's", try this attacking style. If your Forwards stay pushed up and are faster than the opposing FB's, just have your MF's or FB's kick the ball STRAIGHT AHEAD (so your Forwards know where to expect the ball to go-- this is really a "pass to open space") into the open space-- tell your Forwards to expect this and to be alert, shift with the ball and to beat the FB's to it and attack as a pair, with your 2 center MF's trailing.

If you use this attacking style, 3 things will happen:

  1. You will score a lot of goals IF you do this right (your Forwards MUST stay pushed up, shift, win the ball and Finish)
  2. You will back up the opposing Fullbacks and have them running toward their goal
  3. You will tire out the oppposing Fullbacks

This is NOT boom ball, it is just a Fast counterattacking style of play that can work great for any team when the opposing Fullbacks Push-Up and are slower than the attacking Forwards. If the opposing Fullbacks back up and "Defend Deep", you will have to attack by working the ball into scoring position.

I used this strategy to score 6 or 7 goals per game against teams that pushed up slow Fullbacks.


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