11v11 Soccer Formations

3-2-3-2 vs. a 1-2-1-3-3

Soccer Formations and Tactics for Large Fields

(The article below is from SoccerHelp Premium. There are over 100 Premium articles about soccer formations)

Letter to David at SoccerHelp:

This was our 4th and final season at U8 in our league. The kids definitely have been improving with each season and this season they really blossomed with their passing and aggressive play. Our U8 kids went undefeated this season at 8-0. Most games we won by a margin of 6-7 points. They played aggressively at each game winning the 50/50 ball, they finally started effectively passing to one another causing defenses to be split and creating opportunities for our team to score. Our defense was generally tough. My stoppers were selected for bravery, aggressiveness and their ability to clear the ball and this proved to be very effective. My center midfielders were selected for their abilities to work the ball well in high traffic areas, passing skills, endurance and hustle. Throughout the season we control the middle of the field and this proved essential to the outcome of the games. I played a 2-1-3-2 and this worked out beautifully. I did not feel the need to play 2 outside wingers as my outside midfielders moved up when needed and took over the outsides of the field naturally.

Next season we move up to U10 and will once again be the youngest team in our league. The fields and goals will be full size, we will have 11 playing on the field, there will be halves (25 min) instead of quarters and the kids will be faster and stronger. I still believe that if we continue building on what we have learned thus far we will be able to stay competitive.

I plan to play a 1-2-1-3-3 soccer formation adding a sweeper and 2 outside wingers in the attack to help my attackers to cover all that real estate in the front of the field. I should again be able to maintain strength in the middle of the field and place my weakest players in the outside midfielder and defense positions for least effect.

Let me know if you have any recommendations for formations for U10 rec teams playing 11v11?

Once again...thanks for helping me out with my team this season. We had a really good and successful season with both teams and I look forward to the next season.

Thanks again for helping our team improve.

Mike, Texas


SoccerHelp's Reply to Mike,

It is great to hear from you.

I think your U8 team is doing great. Clearly you have become a good coach or your U8s wouldn't have gone 8-0.

An option I like on a large field for U10 Rec is a 3-2-3-2 soccer formation with 2 Stoppers and let your CFB Push Up when you attack (stopping at the inside of the Center Circle) and if your RFB and LFB are slow, have them stop at the top of your Penalty Box. That would give you lots of depth and you can limit you team's running. An advantage is that you can tell your FBs to stay in front of your Goal when the ball is in your Defensive Third and the closest Stopper is the player who would pressure the ball in the corner (that is an advantage of 2 Stoppers). The 3-2-3-2 is a very balanced formation - you can bring 5 to attack (actually 7 counting the 2 Stoppers in support), 5 in the midfield and 5 on defense.

A full sized field is a BIG difference and is VERY hard on U10 - lots more running - you will need to Sub more at the important running positions. A 3-2-3-2 with the RFB and LFB staying deep works well for big fields because if you leave your LFB and RFB deep, you can put slow (but brave) players there and you don't have to sub them, I used to let my RFB and LFB play the entire game. You will need at least one sub for Stopper and for Forward and probably one for CMF. SO, you need at least 2 good subs you can rotate into those important positions.

If you play a 3-2-3-2, stay strong in the Center - put a strong player at CFB and a strong, skilled player at CMF. Your 2 Stoppers need to be brave and have some speed and endurance. You can put slow (but brave) players at RFB and LFB and you can put your timid and weakest players at RMF and LMF. Have at least one very fast Forward who stays Pushed Up as far as possible ALL THE TIME - that will keep the opposing Fullbacks off your half of the field so they can't Push Up to support their attack. Ideally, your other Forward will be a good scorer or your best dribbler - a player who can penetrate inside the opposing Penalty Box and create havoc and cause defenders to pull out of position, OR a player who just knows how to score and is aggressive about following rebounds. Use the Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race to teach One-touch and encourage your Forwards to take one-touch shots.

Think about how 2 Stoppers who are backed up by a good CFB can work on a big field. With the CFB backing them up, those 2 Stoppers can Push Up to at least the Half Line when you attack AND when the ball is in the corner of your Defensive Third, one can pressure the ball in the corner while the other covers the Penalty Box Arc to stop crosses and that lets your FBs stay in front of your goal so they don't get pulled out of position.

David at SoccerHelp


Hi David;

Thanks for the advice. As always I respect and value your input. It's always been sound and proven effective. I will start planning for a 3-2-3-2 formation in the spring. I have a few players who would be great at both the stopper positions and CFB position. It will be a new challenge for the kids to go 25 minutes. I don't plan to sub during the halves. It gets too confusing to determine who has played an equal amount of time. And as you know the YMCA is very adamant about the kids getting to play an equal amount of time. I will therefore work on conditioning during practice to increase their stamina. I'll sub at the half. I need to find a way to strengthen some of my kids legs as the field is so much larger.

I will continue to use your small sided drills encouraging lots of touches during each practice. I will also be increasing the weekly practice time to 1.5 hours to increase the number of drills that will be critical to ensure success to the upcoming season (i.e. Strength on the ball and shoulder charge, shoulder tackle, and more small sided multi touch passing drills).

Any other suggestions for practice drills are always welcome.

Thanks again,



Hey Mike,

My biggest tips for you are (this is what I would do):

1. I wouldn't be surprised if the new field has twice the Square Footage of the old one - a BIG difference. Think about subbing halfway thru each half - there is a form at http://www.soccerhelp.com/premium/Substituting_Rules_When_And_How.shtml. When I coached I bought a watch with a timer on it and set an alarm. We could only sub at certain times (throw ins and goal kicks mostly). I set the timer 2 minutes in advance of the time I wanted to sub at and subbed at the first chance after the timer went off. If you can keep your key players fresh, it will make a HUGE difference. The players who need to be subbed are your best players - definitely ST, CMF, F and maybe CFB. Keep in mind that you can have 3 Stoppers and rotate them and you can have 4 players who rotate between CMF and the 2 Forwards. If you only have 2 weak players just let them play RMF and LMF the entire game unless you have extra players to sub in. Keep your best players in the Center of the Field between the 2 goals (F, CMF, ST and CFB). Subbing your best players may be the opposite of what you are used to doing but your best players will be running a lot and need to stay fresh.

2. As a Warm-Up To start every practice play http://www.soccerhelp.com/premium/practice_games/Dribble.shtml Video at http://www.soccerhelp.com/premium/videos/Dribble_Across_A_Square_Game_Demo.shtml. I promise that if you do this you will be glad you did - your players will be much better on the ball than opponents. Play twice with the square 8 of your steps wide and then twice more with the square 15 of your steps wide. Play to 6 and then give a Tip after each game about how they can win the game.

3. Play http://www.soccerhelp.com/premium/practice_games/Dribble_Around_Cone_Pass.shtml a lot and use it to teach Aggressive Receiving and One-Touch Play and how to pass the ball while running. Aggressive Receiving and One-Touch Play will really help your team play faster and better - those are WAYS of thinking about how to play - the sooner you teach them, the better - it will be a lot easier to teach them before your players get older. If you can play faster than your opponents, you will usually win. Play to 6 and then give a Tip after each game about how they can win the game.

Both those games are also good conditioning.

ALSO, keep in mind that by U10 some teams have learned to attack and how to send thru balls into open space. On a big field if you leave your slow RFB and LFB at the top of your Penalty Box you won't give up breakaways. At U8 it is easy to Push Up the FBs to support your attack because the opposing team isn't good enough to attack thru them, but at U10 that changes. ALSO, by leaving the LFB and RFB Deep, they aren't running as much and that is why you don't have to sub them unless you want to.

*** TIP -- Give ALL your players definite boundaries to limit their running. Example-- tell the CFB NOT to go past the inside of the Center Circle (don't cross the halfway line) AND to shift from side-to-side with the ball so he can slow down the opponent's attack and win cleared balls. Your Stoppers can Push Up farther to support your attack but should NOT go inside the Penalty Box on either end of the field and they should shift with the ball - if they do your players will be bunched up and you won't have depth - there will be a big open space. Tell the Stoppers to stay on THEIR SIDE and to NOT cross the Center of the field - you don't want them both on the same side. See http://www.soccerhelp.com/premium/20_Rules_For_Choosing_A_Formation.shtml and http://www.soccerhelp.com/premium/Assigning_Positions_Rules.shtml