When entering mini soccer formats, it’s been widely disputed whether formations and systems are right to use for players. Does it provide too much structure? As a coach, you need to make a decision whether you want to apply one for your group of players to assist here is an overview of three different formations for ‘5 a side Football’.

Box Formation (1-2-2)

Strengths

– Players are able to spread out across the pitch providing width and depth

– Creates space in central areas for players to move/play into

– Simple for players to understand as it looks like a box

Weaknesses

– Space can be left in central areas

– If team loses possession opposition can take advantage of space left in central areas in transition

– Can make it difficult to combine as it requires players to rotate into central space to support with building from the back

Out of Possession (Defending)

– Encourage players to close the box and not allow opposition through

– Force opposition back/around

– Pressure / Support can help teach basics of defending in pairs

In Possession (Attacking)

– Make the box as big as possible (spread out)

– Find a way to rotate and get inside the box an example of  LB / LF may rotating positions

– Create angles when playing out from the back, don’t find yourself in straight lines

In Transition (In & Out of Possession)

– Players to recover quickly when possession is lost to back box small

– Players to make the box big once they’ve won possession

Benefits for Players (per position)

– GK’s are able to dribble into space if opposition go man – man marking. This also helps them with finding options due to space created by the width and depth.

– RB / LB’s width is create which supports them when receiving to play out. This will help players with working on both their right and left foot. In addition, this helps players with combining with team mates as well as driving with the ball into space. Out of possession, players can focus on their 1v1 defending as well as working in pairs with pressure and support.

RF / LF are encourage to rotate and to create space. This enables them to work on using both feet by driving inside or beating players along the outside as well. It will also help with them to understand how they can receive to create space with rotating with their team mates.

Against Other Formations 

–  Against a diamond formation both full backs will be able to receive to play forwards from GK. You will also have a 2-1 overload in the attacking half of the pitch as well.

– Against a Tree formation, you will be able to receive to play out from the back due to the 2-1 overload. Also, forward players will be able to receive to their feet as there won’t necessarily be anyone screening a pass into their feet.

– Against a box formation, if opposition play man to man, this will support with rotation to create space and find a way of breaking lines in central areas.

Tree Formation (1-2-1-1)

Strengths

– Players are able to create width and depth across the pitch

– By having a player in a central area, this will help supporting you with breaking lines and combining in central areas

– When team loses possession, central player is able to prevent opposition from going through the middle

Weaknesses

– Lack of width in the attacking half

– More difficult for players to understand as their is three units I.e. defence, midfield and forwards

– Opposition may have more success when playing out through potentially 2-1 (GK is able to switch play from one side to the other)

Out of Possession (Defending)

– CF is able to force play one way by starting centrally from GKs

– CM to stay central and not allow opposition through the middle

– LB / RB are able to lock onto opposition once ball is forced one side

In Possession (Attacking)

– CF to stretch the pitch and create an angle from GKs

– CM to create an an angle from GKs and CF to receive and be able to support

– Encourage combinations between the LB / RB and CM / CF

In Transition (In & Out of Possession)

– CF to stretch the pitch when possession is won

– CM to support and be able to play off CF in transition

– Upon loss of possession, fill the middle and be ready to force play one way

Benefits for Players (per position)

– CF’s are able to work on receiving with their back to goal and combinations with others

– CM is able to work on receiving angles and receiving under pressure from GK etc.

– RB / LB are able to combine with central player as well as drive with the ball into space

– GK’s are able to play through the middle as well as have a longer pass to play over/into/onto CF

Against Other Formations 

–  Against a box central player will have space to play through, or if opposition are compact create an overload in a wide area

– Against a diamond you will have an overload when playing out from the back, as well as space being left in central areas

– Against a Tree formation you will have an overload when playing out from the back, however, it will be man-man in central areas.

Diamond Formation (1-1-2-1)

Strengths

– Able to provide width and depth across the pitch

– Players are able to defend and attack as a 1-3.

– Players are able to recover in wide areas as well as be compact too

Weaknesses

– More complex formation for younger players to understand due to more units I.e. defence, midfield and forward

– Space left in central area

– Overloads can be created in transition as you only have one CB (can be left 1-1 at the back)

Out of Possession (Defending)

– Make the Diamond small, don’t allow anything through

– CF to stay central and force play one way, team to shift across to one side

– Wide players are able to go man to man and be ready on their front foot to win the ball

In Possession (Attacking)

– Make the diamond big

– Rotation to create space in the middle of the diamond

– Wide players to join in the attack

In Transition (In & Out of Possession)

– Wide players to attack and defend to create a 1-1-3 or 1-3-1 when in and out of possession

Benefits for Players (per position)

– GK’s are able to have more options due to potentially central player and two wide players. This also supports them being able to switch play too.

– CB will be given lots of opportunities to drive with the ball into central area as well as combine with team mates. This will also force them to defend 1-1 or deal with overloads too.

– Wide players are required to cover distance in both attack and defence, this formation also encourages combinations and 1v1s too. Opposite wide players can join into attack ready to finish on back post too (sweaty)

– CF can work on receiving by dropping off and rotating with team mates which will also encourage combinations etc.

Against Other Formations 

–  Against a Box formation players will be able to create a 3v2 when playing out from the back as well as in the attacking half of the pitch.

– Against a tree formation you may be able to create a 3v2 to press and win the ball back from them playing out from the back, although can often create a 2v1 overload against your CB.

– Matched up against a diamond will force players to receive with their back to goal lots as well as rotate to create space. Space will be in central areas if CF can drop into combine.