Soccer Formations That Can Win More Games
How to Choose the Soccer Formation that Lets Your Team be Successful
Letter from Soccer Coach Who Had Lost 45 Straight Games

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Hi,

This is David at SoccerHelp. The right soccer formation can make a HUGE difference in the success of your team. What is the best formation? The best soccer formation is the one that gives your team the best chance to be successful.

The best soccer formation is going to depend on the strengths, weaknesses and skill level or your players, and how many "weak links" you have. A Rec team usually can't play like a soccer Travel team. On a Rec team you will usually have some skilled players, some fast players, some brave players and some motivated players, but you will also probably have some unskilled, slow, unmotivated and timid players. Most Rec teams need more "depth" than Travel teams and good travel teams probably need more "width" than Rec teams.

This is discussed in the letter below. The coach had listened to the "experts" and had not won a game - they had lost 45 games. Can you even imagine that? I have to give them all great credit for not quitting.

He switched to a "stacked" formation that provided more depth (4 layers of defenders instead of 3) and after 5 games they were 3-1-1 (3 wins and one loss). This PROVES what a dramatic difference a formation can make.

He says:

"I absolutely believe that the most important element for developing players is CONFIDENCE. When they start to believe in themselves, they really shine. They have the confidence and the enthusiasm to try new things and to learn more and more. I will never again put myself or a young team through the heartache and frustration of trying to play a system that is simply beyond our experience and skill level."

There is a great deal of info on Premium about formations and Styles of Play - over 200 pages.

Note that a 2-1-2-2 is just one kind of Stacked formation for Rec teams. In some cases a 2-1-3-1 soccer formation might be better.

I hope you are having great fun.

David at SoccerHelp

---- Below is the Letter from Coach Glenn ----

(Note from David -- A 2-1-2-2 soccer formation is just one kind of Stacked formation for Rec teams. For most Rec teams, a 2-1-3-1 soccer formation is probably better because it is a little faster and easier to teach and it allows you to have your best athlete at Stopper (your bravest, fastest player), your most skilled player at Center Mid where he or she can control the Center of the Field and still come into the attack, and you can also hide weak players at Right Mid and Left Mid. Controlling the Center of the Field (between the 2 goals) is critical and the team that controls the Center will usually win the game. You can give up the sidelines but not the Center. There is a great deal about this and how to teach Positions and Formations on Premium. If you doubt that it works, just read the Testimonials like the one below - there are over 300 of them on SoccerHelp. Coaches like Glenn take the time to write because they are happy and they want to share with other coaches.)

Hi SoccerHelp,

I coach a U-12 mixed rec soccer team playing 8v8. I read the testimonials on SoccerHelp about using a 2-1-2-2 soccer formation and it seemed to make sense to me. But when I asked our league's select coaches, the high school coach, and even a college coach, they all said 2-1-2-2 is terrible. They suggested a 2-3-2 or 3-3-1 soccer formation because of the flexibility and all of the options available in those formations.

I tried their formations for 3 seasons and had horrible results. It was a train wreck every time.

In those 3 seasons, our record was Zero Wins, 2 ties and 45 losses.

This season, I decided to ignore the "experts" and go with a 2-1-2-2. We've played 5 games so far with a record of 3 Wins, 1 Tie and 1 loss.

FANTASTIC!! Our loss was to a very experienced team and that game was 5-2. Last season that same team beat us 12-0, and I stopped that game midway through the 2nd half to protect my kids from being humiliated. HUGE difference!

Here is why I believe the more advanced formations fail so badly and why the 2-1-2-2 works so well:

Those coaches suggesting the 3-3-1 or 2-3-2 are higher level coaches WITH HIGHER LEVEL PLAYERS! There are no inexperienced players taking the field in Select (travel team) or High School or College soccer. The advanced formations are great IF you have experienced and skilled players.

But for a rec team with little or no experience among the players, there is NO WAY we can play a 3-3-1 or 2-3-2. It is a disaster. It is demoralizing to the players to get beat every game, and more importantly, they are so overwhelmed and lost they don't learn anything.

It's like picking the "best" math system. "Ok, calculus is the "pro" math! You should do calculus!" Great! But there is NO WAY anyone can do calculus until they've learned the adding and subtracting and all the other basics. That's exactly the case in young soccer teams. Trying to make them learn and play a 2-3-2 is like telling them to do calculus. It just isn't going to work, no matter how good the coach.

The 2-1-2-2 is AWESOME for a young team! It is very simple and easy to learn. The best part, I believe, is that it encourages individual AGRESSIVENESS in games. They don't look lost on the field trying to figure out, "am I pressure? or cover? Or am I balance? Oh, and what the heck is balance anyway? What does balance do exactly?"

In the 2-1-2-2 makes it very simple for young, inexperienced players. They quickly lose their timidness and just go play hard and have fun.

The high level coaches complain that a 2-1-2-2 does not develop player skills to prepare players for higher levels. I COMPLETELY DISAGREE! When my kids are on the field, they have fun, play hard, get aggressive, and their CONFIDENCE SOARS!! I'm fairly new to coaching soccer, but I've coached other youth sports and played sports all my life.

I absolutely believe that the most important element for developing players is CONFIDENCE. When they start to believe in themselves, they really shine. They have the confidence and the enthusiasm to try new things and to learn more and more.

I have learned from frustrating experience that the 2-1-2-2 is by far the best system for teaching young, inexperienced players and teams.

They have FUN, their team and individual confidence soars, and they feel excited to learn new things.

I will never again put myself or a young team through the heartache and frustration of trying to play a system that is simply beyond our experience and skill level.

Good luck coaches! And THANK YOU! Most Rec coaches are volunteers who work hard and put a lot of heart into trying to help kids. But there are rarely enough parents saying thank you, so THANK YOU!!

Sincerely,

--Coach Glenn, Premium Member, U-12 mixed rec

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