soccer training skills

 Soccer Systems of Play, Team Formation and Positional Set up, 4-4-2

by Steve September


4, defenders are usually arranged as outside left, inside left, inside right and outside right.
The most recent idea is to have them lined up in a banana shape with the middle of the curve closest to the goalkeeper and the outside defenders, the points, slightly ahead but behind the midfielders.
As this is the shape of a banana the defenders can see one another usualy all the time.

Some considered the flat back option but this means much more communication from the capitain of the defense usually one of the insiders.
The general idea is to have the two defenders attend to the attack coming in from their side.

This means that the opposite outside tucks in a little to cover the center of the field covering the goal and any incoming additional attacking opponents.
When the team has possession the defenders would then play wide to stretch out the other teams attackers.
This is also known as playing it around the back.

Sometimes the defenders can be lined up in a diamond shape. This is to utilize the last player back as a "sweeper" who clears the ball up the field and out to the other defenders and mid fielders.
This player is in constant communication with the goalkeeper and relays the message to the other defenders. This is because the goalkeepers can see the complete field from their vantage point.

At times and in some cases too often this central defender will by-pass the midfield and play it up to the forwards. I say too often because this usually has the forwards out numbered by the opposing defenders.. However there are a few "power forwards" who could handle this situation, but most are unable too.

The defender at the top of the diamond is considered the "stopper" whose duty is to challenge any attack or attacking play. They usually play from side to side rather than up and down the field.
These defenders are involved in shutting down any play and play making.
These players really read the game well. They need to, or they would be doing all the running.


4, mid-fielders are usually arranged as outside left, inside left, inside right and outside right.
The outside players are called, wingers or flank players and are also involved in striking at the goal.
This would make this line up have a possibility of 4 strikers at any given time.
These wingers usually have the bulk of the running to do as they could carry the ball from the defending third and into the attacking third.
This also depends on the team strategy as outlined by the coaching staff.

The two inside midfielders are supposed to be the "play makers". These are the individuals who are responsible for carrying out the plans the coach and players have designed and used as the methods of attack and goal scoring.
These positions have traditionally played these roles. However nowadays the play making comes from anyone and sometimes all the players at any given time.
These inside players have also been more defensive in their general on field play.
This defensive idea is to stop the opposition from creating attacking options.


These are the main ggoooooooooooalll scoring machines. The ones who react to the ball quickly and are able to shoot from any place on the field.
To be effective they should work closely together as a team and pair. To this extent they are sometimes called "twin strikers".
They are also responsible for creating space by making the defenders mark them.
They make the defense leave their zonal resposibilities whereby taking them "out of the game".

Steve September of On The Ball Soccer Training has been involved in soccer for over forty years and on three continents. As a player, player coach and high performance coach Steve wants to share the knowledge and experiences with all levels of people involved in the soccer scene. Check out the philosophy and information at

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