SOCCER COLUMN: Exploring formations

There are variations to all formations and some coaches play around with the shape of their team and add diamonds or rotations.

By Brett Adams


On Thursday, February 20, we ran our third coaching clinic — Formations – What works best for your team/Why and the benefits of playing a certain way.

The three key areas where:

• Understanding why you are playing a formation;

• Setting players goals;

• Player expectations when playing a formation.

The most common formations are:







There are variations to all of the above formations and some coaches play around with the shape of their team and add diamonds or rotations to the lineup. There are various positives and negatives to playing a formation but ultimately it boils down to this —  Do the players understand?

Players need to understand what it takes to play a certain formation. Teach them their roles and responsibilities so that they know what is expected of them.

What do they need to do in possession? What do they do out of possession? What are their key goals in the game… (Winger) Can you get 10 crosses into the box today? Do they understand their role within the team? What are their defensive responsibilities?

This is a team game. You need all the players. This is critical if you are to have success with any formation. Players that aren’t sure of their responsibilities will inevitably make mistakes.

Ask yourself, does the coach understand? Have you really thought the selection of your formation through? Why are you playing that formation? Do you understand what it takes to make the formation work? What do you want your team to do in possession/out of possession? Are you over thinking it?

Keep it simple — Give them three things in possession and three things out of possession, this way they have measurable targets.

Practice shape play — again keep it simple. Give the players a chance to learn. Don’t keep changing it.

Once again I hope this has been helpful. For any more information on this article or soccer in general please email me at

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