soccer training skills

 Soccer Systems of Play, Positional Dynamics and Team Formation 4-5-1

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.

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 format requires a high degree of verbal communication in addition to sight and hand gestures.

With both of these options the opposite outside tucks in a little to mark 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 vanatge 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.
It does create a certain amount of excitment with this surprize attacking option.

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.
This defender is 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 as the ball is in constant motion.


5, midfielders,

Two outside/wing players who dominate the flanks of the field. They also act as attackers creating many scoring opportunities for their teams.
These are hard working players and a usually super-fit. However sometimes after a few runs on the side these can switch with inside players for a rest.
If this is possible, the team can keep their opponents confused and always looking for changing plays and positions.
This type of positonal play can not be defended by a man-on-man team defense. This requires a good zone defense and a constantly communicative team.

The 2 inside players are usually defensive in their roles but will become part of the attack when their team has possession. They will generally use the central midfielder to create plays and control the tempo of the game.


This team is usually confident of their lone striker.
The striker in this formation actually acts as a "post-up" player. This means that this striker at times plays with the opposing defense at his/her back.
This player will try and stretch the defense, will receive the ball to lay it back to the oncoming team-mates to close the ground/space that this striker has created.
The cycle continues until a good scoring opportunity has been formulated.

Occationally this striker will turn and attack the goal when the timing is right.
This is usually communicated to the strikers by their team-mates.
However a great striker will sense these situations based on the run of play and the opportunities that this striker has created.

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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