This debate for youth soccer coaches may never end…but let’s see if we can determine the best soccer formation for your soccer team. And the reason you choose a particular formation should have a certain goal in mind.
By Coach V
I’ve got a few bucks in my pocket that bets you might be here for the wrong reason. Most soccer coaches find this article because they want the best formation to “win” soccer games. What they should be looking for is the best formations to “teach” the game. Surprisingly, they are often one in the same.
There have been many arguments (heightened debates we’ll call them) as to which formations are the best for youth soccer players. What I am going to tell you has been proven time and time again and is now endorsed by many national soccer clubs / organizations. This format also basis itself in the K.I.S.S. formula (Keep It Simple Soccer) and “transitional development” for clubs, between age groups. This means that younger players use the same simple thought processes throughout their development, aging, and change of venues. (More players on the field the older they get.)
What this is NOT.
The best formation starts with a girl’s best friend… a diamond.
So, assuming the ball is starting at the bottom point, nearest our goal, we want to get the ball to the HIGHEST point, which is the top, near the opponent’s goal. If that pass is available and safe, that is the one we make. (Option #1) If not, we pass it left or right to the open player. (Option #2 and 3) Now that player should try and get it to the TOP of the diamond. If not they simply pass it back or across. This continues until we can get the ball to the highest point. The shape of this game naturally teaches what the coach wants to teach, three passing directions. Forward, sideways and back.
This is especially important near the midfield. You’ll constantly hear coaches preaching to their players, “Keep the ball, play simple, find feet” and more. Often the team that can control the midfield is the one that has the most success. Having MANY options is critical to players in the midfield.
So now you should have the single diamond visual in your mind. This can also be used as a good warm up game for all levels of players. A 20 x 20 yard square, 4 offensive players with one or two defenders. A simple game of keep away that helps players look for open lanes, good passes, and keeps them moving into open space for support.
Making the “transition” to the 8v8
Moving to the “BIG GAME”, the 11 v 11
This formation also encourages players to move as a team. They see and understand that the DIAMOND must be maintained. They must move forward and back to maintain the proper shape.
Cure for bunching?
“I don’t think the 3-4-3 is the best formation to win.”
A critical aspect of development.
The light bulb…
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