Ask a coach about their philosophy, strategy, or tactics… And, they will likely respond with soccer formations they like to play. When I coached high school soccer, interviews for assistant coaches usually started like this:
Q: How do you like your teams to play?
A: I like a 4-4-2.
And why diamonds are a soccer player’s best friend
A formation is simply the way you wish to organize your players on the field during a game. Here we provide some suggestions on formations we have used in the past in the following three competition formats: 4v4, 7v7, and 11v11.
Before we get into the details, let’s take a moment to explain what the numbers in the formations mean. Numbers associated with formations (e.g., 4-4-2) explain how many players you will play in each functional line (let’s call them functional lines), from back to front. In the 4-4-2 example, you would have 4 defenders, 4 midfielders, and 2 forwards.
Sometimes formations may have more than three lines (e.g., 4-1-2-1-2), so starting from the back you would line up 4 defenders, 1 defensive midfielder, 2 regular midfielders, 1 attacking midfielder, and 2 forwards. The goalkeepers are never counted in these numbers, it is assumed that there is exactly one per team if the competition format allows for goalkeepers.
The following advice is meant for recreational players who are still developing and is actually the complete opposite of the advice we would give to teams who are in very competitive leagues.