Tips for Improving Soccer Teamwork and Reducing Selfish Play

Tips for Helping Weak Soccer Players be Successful

Soccer Positions Tips
How a Rec Soccer Team Beats Bigger, Faster Teams
Idea for Rotating Soccer Positions
How to Steal the Ball on Your Opponent's Soccer Throw-ins, Goal Kicks, Punts and Free Kicks
1-1-1-2 Stacked Soccer Formation

This article discusses soccer teamwork and how to teach players to enjoy teamwork. Below is a letter from Donna who is a U10 Rec coach who wrote asking for advice about soccer formations. She had coached soccer for 5 years but it was her first time coaching a 6v6 soccer formation, which is 5 field players and a Goalkeeper. She has 12 players on her team - 4 athletic players, 3 small fast timid players, and 5 slow, shy, unskilled, or difficult-to-teach players - that's a lot of subs and is a lot to keep up with if all the kids show up.

Hi SoccerHelp,

"I love! I'm convinced it is what makes my mediocre team successful. We had 2 games today, 15-2 and 3-1. Both teams we played had bigger, faster kids on them but we won both games. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

"I played a 2-1-2 formation and played timid or weak players at these positions: at Goalkeeper, 1 at Forward, sometimes 1 at Fullback. Hubby thought I was crazy to put less talented kids in goal but it worked! The teams we played had very few GOOD shots on goal because if the ball made it past our midfielder (always our best player) then the Fullback that was Pushed Up got it OR the Fullback that stayed back stopped it." (Note from David: Donna positioned one of her Fullbacks (the stronger one) in the Penalty Box Arc (like a "Stopper" in front of the other FB) and told the other Fullback to stay in front of the Center of the goal in about the center of the Penalty Box (not too close to the Goalie - about 8 to 10 steps in front of the goal - so as not to block the Goalie's view) -- that put one FB in position to slow the attack, like a Stopper, and hopefully clear the ball if it got past the MF and the other was there as a "last defender" before the Goalie - that allowed her to play a weak or slow player as Goalie. Her formation actually became a 1-1-1-2)

Donna, U-10 Rec coach


Hi Donna,

Thanks for writing -- it's very helpful to get confirmation of what works.

Your team is playing good defense and scoring a lot of goals too.

Thanks for having faith in! I realize it is hard to believe some of the things I recommend (like playing a weak player in goal instead of your best player) are a good idea until you see the results. One of the biggest problems I face is convincing some coaches that the SoccerHelp ideas will work, because I recommend things that are different from what most coaches normally do.

Here is an idea for you to try -- The Brazilian Team Goal Celebration to Encourage Teamwork - Team Attacking Reward Ideas and Team Goal Celebration Idea When a Goal is Scored. Look at the Patch Reward Program I developed at Patch Award System. In that program, players are rewarded for the actions and behavior a coach wants to encourage such as Bravery, Leadership, Teamwork, Special Effort, Team Attacking, Defense and Playing Both Offense and Defense. Team Attacking is critical and a way to start to teach what allows a goal to be scored. At U8, Team Attacking probably won't involve as many players as it will at U10 and U12, however, it is very important to still make it clear that scoring is a TEAM EFFORT and when a goal is scored have the ENTIRE Team come together in the Center Circle or near the sideline for a Team Goal Celebration where they put their arms on each other's shoulders and do a Team Cheer or a Chant. This Team Goal Celebration will allow EVERY member of the team celebrate and share the spotlight for scoring the goal and it will cut down on jealousy. This is great for Team Building and is what the Brazilian National Team does after scoring a goal.

David at SoccerHelp


Hi David, (Note from David: Read the "Team Celebration" idea below where after a goal has been scored everyone gets credit for the goal - it worked great for Donna's team).

"YES, the kids were very happy yesterday! One thing that really helped was your idea to have the kids all come together after a goal and do "1-2-3 teamwork". After doing that, the kids, and myself forgot who made the goal!!! They ALL left the circle with a smile, whereas last year we were successful but not as happy because everyone wanted to score the goal! My approach yesterday was to play the kids where they would be successful and help the team the most. Once we had scored enough goals I then let them experiment with other positions. On paper my team should get slaughtered every time but they don't because they're brave AND stay in position. A mom from one of the other teams even asked to have her son come to my practices so he can gain more skills! :) That is thanks to all YOU do!"



Hi Donna,

Wow! Thanks for sharing that. I put a lot of work into SoccerHelp, and stories like yours make it worth while.

It's a great compliment to have parents ask if their kids can come to your practice -- that rarely happens.

I got the idea for the team coming together after a goal for a team celebration from the Brazilian National Team -- that's what they do. I'm glad to hear it is having the result of improving teamwork and reducing selfishness -- and it's obviously more fun too since you're getting more smiles!

I think your approach of playing the kids first where they can be successful and then letting them experiment with other positions after you get ahead is excellent.

Please let me know of any other good ideas you have, and what works for you and helps your team. That's how I learn.

Now that you have seen the benefits of these new ideas, I predict that you will have more fun and have some great ideas to share.

One more tip: Teach Coaching Rule No. 3. It's easy to teach and will help your team a lot. It's worth 2 or 3 goals per game.

Seriously, this will really help your players position on your opponent's Throw-ins, Goal Kicks, Punts, and Free Kicks so they steal the ball and so your opponents don't ever get breakaways or fast counterattacks on those plays.

Here's a link to Coaching Rule No. 3:

By the way, Coaching Rule No. 3 isn't a real rule- it's one of 22 "rules" I invented for my players. I found it easier to teach them important things if I called them "rules", since they knew they should follow the rules.

David at SoccerHelp