U11 Select/Travel Formations?

Discussion in 'Coach' started by drc003, May 11, 2007.

  1. drc003

    drc003 Member

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    Hey Guys/Gals. I have been coaching for 8 years and have an E license. I coach a U11 Girls Select soccer team. Our first season of full competitive league soccer was in the fall. We finsihed in second with only 1 loss, were promoted to the next division and were the only team to beat the team who won the league. However we had 3 draws and have struggled somehwhat with creating chances. It is 8v8(7 field) and we played the entire season in what I call the "Double diamond" formation. We have a sweeper, 2 outside backs, a center mid, 2 wingers, and a center forward. In many cases it has worked well for playing a posession and being solid all over the field but I just can't get the girls to be creative and take chances. We are still working on this and not giving up the formation all together but are trying some different things to see how they work out.

    We started the spring season with two tourneys and it was a great oppurtunity to try something new. We played in a 2-3-2 formation and it helped the girls to work together in attack but also made our defenders really work their tails off. We have a very solid first 9-10 players but there is a big gap in skill and desire to our last 4-5. As the heat has picked up this is a big problem. We were just beaten pretty convincingly 4-2 by a team we had previously defeated 3 times in a row including 3-0 two weeks ago.

    Anyway, I'm dragging this out a bit. I'm just looking for some formation ideas at this level for 8v8. I've watched some matches of the league above us and have noticed some teams playing 3-2-2. Has anyone used this formation? If so what kind of responsibilities are the outside defenders given? What about the midfield with a possible lack of width? I would like to give this a try and some teams I've seen do it well but I don't want my girls turning to longball up the the forwards. Are there any other ideas you could share on 8v8?

    We have 8 of our 10 league matches coming up during this very hot season and they are very close together.Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Dave


  2. Twenty26Six

    Twenty26Six Feeling Sheepish...

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    I'm a huge fan of the 2-3-2 because it afford the opportunity to teach each position's role in a clear manner.

    You shouldn't be worried so much about results. You should be more worried with developing abilities within the team. 4 years from now, no one will remember losing 3-0 to "____".

    However, at U15/16 they'll be much better players for learning individual foot-skills and the roles of each position.

    The score is for parents. Get the girls focused on improving their ability - "just a little bit" - every time they get near a ball.
  3. ranova

    ranova Member

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    Just so you know, I am not talking from experience. And what I say depends somewhat on the shape of the field. In your old diamond system, there is only one midfielder. With wingers, you have early width to any attack, a real advantage when fatigue is a factor. Knowing kids, I am guessing that at least two defenders would push up into a midfield role and support the attack so that you had more than one functioning midfielder when attacking. (Players naturally want to help the attack. Its getting them to run back to support the defense that ususally is the trouble). If your two wingers would defend behind the ball, functioning as midfielders on defense, this would give you functionally a 3-3-1 shape on defense and 1-3-3 shape on offense. I suspect that this was actually happening in your successful games. Essentially you have at least 6 field players playing both ways. I really like this concept. It gives you good width and good depth centrally on both offense and defense. And since fields at this age are usually short, the runs required are probably only 40 yards or less. I say it gives you good width with only 3 accross because I anticipate that the field is only 30-40 yards wide.

    Conceptually I would think of this as a 3-3-1 system with wing-halfs instead of 1-2-1-3 but that is a purely academic point of no importance. To me its a scaled down 4-4-2 system and you could adapt a lot of the same concepts by analogy.
  4. drc003

    drc003 Member

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    Yes. This is exactly how I teach it. Basically it changes depending on the three main moments. When in posession the 2 outside attackers are wingers and when we lose posession they become more of outside mids. Also, this gives me a better chance to teach how outside defenders support the attack not only by moving up with the attack but also with overlapping runs. Unfortunately it is rare that there is ever an overlapping run no matter how much we work on it. Another problem is that my wingers don't read well when there is an oppurtunity to move inside with the CF to make a 2 man combination which leads to her being stranded against the defense and the lack of scoring oppurtunities.


  5. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Sticking with the same system would allow you to build on the team's prior experience. But it sounds to me like you already have had great success introducing some team tactics at this age level. You shouldn't be disappointed.

    Instead of trying to address the problem directly (by talking about weakside slanting runs into space for instance), you could teach them what a blind-side run is. It is the kind of tactic that should appeal to the kids--sneaky and fun. And if they try blind side runs, it should inherently add some variety to their movement. Instead of mostly moving toward the ball, they will be sometimes moving to avoid their defender making them less predictable. I think the kids will understand an explanation that a blind side run won't work as well if you do it every time.

    Of course I am assuming that you haven't already taught that technique!
  6. scyr

    scyr New Member

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    Dave, We are using a 3-1-3 formation which makes the defense strong and the attack strong.Allot of work for the center mid but the ouside forwards and help with coming back to mark the other teams defense.
    Works pretty well. Stronger players in the middle of the field.
    Scott
  7. KevTheGooner

    KevTheGooner Help that poor man!

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    We also play the 1-2-1-2-1 but I haven't found that creativity was a problem. I encourage the center mid, wing mid, and striker to be creative when the mood strikes but the other players need to recognize that someone is moving foward and will need cover behind as a result.

    The creativity should, IMO, be taught at training with lots of ball skills, moves (Coerver stuff, basically). And every one of your players should be practicing them at home until they can pull off 3-4 basic moves without thinking. I'm sure you're already doing that, but it bears repeating.
  8. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Practicing ball skills improves ball skills, not creativity. Creativity is what you do on the field with and without the ball. The game is the best teacher of creativity. It is like art. Someone can tell you how to paint a picture and you can practice mixing colors and brush stokes, but you learn to paint pictures by painting pictures.
  9. goyoureddevils

    goyoureddevils Member

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    That is the best quote I've seen on here in a week! There is more truth in that half of a sentence than in the whole rest of the thread.

    My question for the original poster would be this: Do you want to win games, or create an environment that helps to develop players - who will eventually win not just games but championships?

    If you create the right environment for these players by focusing less on formation and more on width and depth, pressure and cover, and a freedom to take players on 1v1 and 2v2, then you will most likely lose some games in the short run.... but you will gain the respect of the parents, players, and coaches around you as your players constantly improve. Who gives a flying flip in a year whether or not you won 6 games instead of all 12? What will matter is whether the worst player on your team now is actually a contributor next year.

    Play the same 2-3-2 system, but let your midfield and front line know that they are responsible for slowing any attack by providing instant pressure on the ball when it is lost. I have found that when the backs and keeper know they can give them hell for not doing their jobs on a counter attack, peer pressure starts to have a telling effect.

    That said, the ONLY way you can encourage creativity for any team is to get them to defend first as a team, then basically run rampant on the counter. Every team I have coached for the last 3 years has succeeded, often with average players, by making the idea of instant pressure and cover a team project.
  10. KevTheGooner

    KevTheGooner Help that poor man!

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    Well said!
  11. drc003

    drc003 Member

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    First of all I agree completely with what rca2 said. Second, where do you get that I don't already do everything you said, other than the 2-3-2 part? Everything you said is exactly what I do. In fact i just got back from a practice that progress from 1v1 to goals, to the 2v1, then 2v2 before scrimmaging. I completely develop all players. We have practices that focus on individual skills using Coerver games as well as 4v4 line soccer, etc.

    As far as the respect of players , parents and fellow coaches every indication is I'm doing fine. As I said I took over this team from Rec plus(they were 4-6) and in the first season playing competitive had only 1 loss and was promoted. You should know at this age group you cannot do that with tactics. I did it through player development. After my original post last season we went 4-3-3, finished third and finished strong with a 2-0 win over second place and a 1-1 draw over first. We were the only team to take a point from them. I think this shows even more player development and the team really picking up on my teaching style.

    First and second were promoted leaving us and a team we tied for third and drew with twice as obvious favorites to get promoted this season. In our first game we traveled two hours to play this team and won 7-0! I think I'm fine in the department of improving skills.

    Sorry for the rant but it gets old that any time someone asks a simple question about tactics here comes the soapbox about how that should not be your focus.:rolleyes: I never said it was. I simply wanted to discuss with other coaches what their opinions were on formations at 8v8. Yes, formation isn't the focus but they do help to teach concepts which the players need to learn and use. In 1 year this group will be playing 11v11.

    As for my opinion on the formations from trial and error since then; The 1-2-1-2-1 is far superior to any of the others at 8v8. Especially because I really believe in your line here: "the ONLY way you can encourage creativity for any team is to get them to defend first as a team, then basically run rampant on the counter." IMO, you can do this best in the "3-3-1/double diamond" or whatever you want to call it. Playing this formation the way I teach, it is necessary for everyone to play "total football". Everyone is a defender when not in possession and everyone is an attacker when we are. I still play both 2-3-2 and 3-2-2 to get different experiences for the players. However our standard setup and what is really clicking now is the dutch style double diamond.

    Cheers,

    Dave
  12. goyoureddevils

    goyoureddevils Member

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    Dave.... your question was about how to encourage creativity through formation.

    That was exactly where my post was aimed, anything else you read into it is on your dime, not mine. I don't know if this is what you are doing or not, but I have seen some posts on here that indicate a predilection towards tactics over skillful play.... this thread and my post hopefully will place a seed of thought in those coach's minds.

    As to my remarks about not getting caught up in formations versus development or creativity.... I stand by my words - put them into a formation that allows them all to play in defensive and offensive roles, or else your backs start to think they don't need to develop certain skills and your forwards start to think they don't have to defend.

    It is easy to coach older players about the difference between those two. It is not easy to convince young players who most often take things very very literally.
  13. drc003

    drc003 Member

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    Actually, to quote someone on here, you got this idea on your own dime, not mine.:p

    Here is what I asked in the original post:

    "I'm just looking for some formation ideas at this level for 8v8. I've watched some matches of the league above us and have noticed some teams playing 3-2-2. Has anyone used this formation? If so what kind of responsibilities are the outside defenders given? What about the midfield with a possible lack of width? I would like to give this a try and some teams I've seen do it well but I don't want my girls turning to longball up the the forwards. Are there any other ideas you could share on 8v8?"

    Now I guess you could say you took the last line and ran with it. However I still think if you read the post completely you can see that what I am looking to discuss is ideas on 8v8 formations for game day. I don't feel like that I should have to post my entire curriculum for training sessions in order for responses to stick to the topic and not have the discussion go off on the holistic manner of training youth players.

    I already understand and agree with everything you were saying. However it completely misses the point of my post which was ideas for 8v8 formations other than 2-3-2. Specifically, playing a 3-2-2 and possible attacking ideas in the 3-3-1. Since I think it is important for the players to understand the differences between an inside defender and backs I don't like playing with two at the back. Just my opinion. If you play with 3 at the back you are much more likely to have defenders join in with overlapping runs and sometimes inside penetration.

    It is all well and good to say "Do you want to win games, or create an environment that helps to develop players". However at this level I am coaching players who hate to lose. No matter what they are taught if there are two at the back and a forward run costs us a goal the defenders will be shy to go forward no matter what the coach says.

    Again, I completely understand and agree with what you are saying. I especially agree and apply your emphasis on 1v1, 2v2(3v2 as well) and instant pressure and cover as a team. The latter being something that many teams do not understand how to do well and is a huge factor in a teams success and unity. You are obviously an experienced coach. The problem is it completely misses the point of what I created this discussion for. Sorry if my frustration with this made me come across as a bit of an ass. Your input and contribution to the discussion is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Dave

    P.S. - Do you(or anyone on the coaches forum) ever attend any tourneys in Cincinnati, Indy,Louisville or Evansville?
  14. goyoureddevils

    goyoureddevils Member

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    Completely missed the mark didn't I.... I suck!

    As for what you asked about - really asked about, there are some ideas about your back line that can help tremendously in a 3-2-2. I coach Indiana ODP on the boys side, and we do 8v8 alot in training and games.

    I always insist that my back line play in a triangle, ala a flat back three. When the ball is in the attacking third, I ask my center back to be in advance of the outside pair, helping to back up the front four and hold the ball in like a dmid. While he is doing this, I ask that those two outside backs pinch in and play nearer the center of the field like a pair of center backs and not get pulled out wide unless the ball is played there.

    When the ball is in our defensive third, I expect that the center back will play behind the outside backs, providing depth and cover. On fast paced counter attacks from the opposing team, this can get to be an exhausting job, so the player playing this possition must be fast, have endurance, and be smart enough to realize when they might have to start heading back that way.

    Now the tough part, when the ball is in the middle third. This is where you find out just how tough and smart your back line is, and how good their communication skills are, and especially how much they trust that communication.

    If you are playing a team that you want to take an agressive stance with in the midfield.... say that they have one really fast player up top and you want to ensure the ball never gets delivered, or you are worried about a midfielder on their team who can dribble like Ronaldinho, keep your center back in the dmid configuration.

    If you are playing a team that requires more patience.... they can beat you down both flanks with speed, or they possess mulitple players who short pass and dribble well, then drop the center back into a sweeper roll.

    A really good back line can adapt as the game goes, communicating the changes needed as they spot them, just remember that anytime the center back goes up field, the outsides have to think and act like a pair of very cautious center backs, ready to protect against the long ball and cover each other with depth and support.

    Now, hopefully I don't suck quite so much anymore!

    And to respond to your p.s. yes, I will be bringing my team to the United Cup in Louisville Sept 14th - 16th and the Fischers Holloween Classic at the end of October on the north side of Indy. We thought about the big one in Evansville in November... but dammit if I'm not sick of them and they're not sick of me by then! We take all of November off then start winter training in Dec.... we may look to come down to Mockingbird's indoor tourney, but we will definately play in the Kick In the Bluegrass tournanemt in March again, it was good preparation for spring. Will you be around there for any of those?
  15. drc003

    drc003 Member

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    First off, thanks for the ideas in the 3-2-2. Good stuff!

    Secondly, I thought this might be a "small world after all". :D
    I coach for a club in Southern Indiana and we will indeed be playing at the United Cup. We will also be playing at the Veterans Invitational in Evansville. I know how you feel about November too. However this will be our third season in a row and we really love the atmosphere at the VIT. Also we lost last season on penalties and my players feel like we have unfinished business. We thought about Fischer's and a few others but the players decided on VIT.

    As far as a player I have been proud to help develop, I had my main GK(also a great field player) make Indiana PDP last year. I don't think she was able to make it out this year but I'm sure she'll be back in the mix very soon.

    If schedules allow maybe we could meet in person. I'll send you a pm.

    Thanks again,

    Dave
  16. Thereisonlyone

    Thereisonlyone New Member

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    The double diamond formation or the 1-2-1-2-1 seems to be the most common 8v8 format used in Ohio South Club/Select soccer. Personally, I like the 2-3-2 if the team can play more of a possession game. The use of triangulation can really wear a team out. The problem is it is difficult to get 10 and 11 year olds to maintain discipline in this system when playing a competitive opponent. They typically get frantic and start trying to constantly attack the goal which either results in a goal or a loss of possession, usually(against quality) it's loss of possession. Which is where you end up getting killed on a counter attack because other team can quickly create numbers against the back two.

    I recently have been playing around with several different basic formations. Here is what I have come up with...

    Christmas tree (1-3-2-1), Using a sweeper to back up 3 defenders(playing flat) and 2 attacking mid's with a center striker. The attacking mids should pinch in at times leaving space open of a wing defender to move into. When done correctly the attacking mids can exploit the blind side with a field switch to streaking wing defender. Note: Similar to a 1-2-1-2-1 at times

    The pendulum 4-2-1, similar to the christmas tree only using a flat back four system with zone defense. Think of the center striker being the focal point of the pendulum. Like a wind shield wiper the team moves across the field to cover the the ball. Note: never tried this formation have only come up with it in theory


    The 3-2-2 using two wing forwards that play touch line wide and two defensive center mids that work together to control the midfield. Then two in the back with a sweeper system. This requires that the wing forwards be able to send long crosses to the other forward. Also I sometimes would switch the mid's and have them play with an attacking mid and a defensive mid depending on the opponent and game situation.

    Those are a couple of different looks on the 8v8 format let me know what you think.
  17. ChrisSSBB

    ChrisSSBB Member+

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    It's been awhile playing 8 v 8, but I always liked playing 3-2-2 with a sweeper. Since the sweeper is librero, he is free to advance into midfield with the ball or when we have clear possession in the attacking third. In essence, becomes a 2-3-2 in attack and then 3-2-2 when defending. It does require a disciplined player to ensure he doesn't get caught too far up so is able to transition quickly to defend.
  18. Mr Martin

    Mr Martin Member+

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    Take a look at the discussion of 8v8 play on this page from a Dutch-based, English language coaching web site.

    http://www.bettersoccermorefun.com/dwtext/comments.htm

    The page talks about 8v8 and 7v7 play. It also includes a link to a file prepared by USYSA and John Ellinger that discusses systems of play under 8v8.
  19. drc003

    drc003 Member

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    Yes, this is the 8v8 formation I have always used and find it the best overall teaching shape at this age group. It allows for great possession based play, switching of the field, angles of support and creating constant 2v1 and 3v2 opportunities with inside and outside penetration of the passer.

    I will say a little more about how my team has done over the past season in this formation(development and success) after the weekend. It's late and I have to leave for the Music City Tourney in Nashville after work tomorrow.

    Take care,

    Dave
  20. KevTheGooner

    KevTheGooner Help that poor man!

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    U11s may get the 1-2-1-2 ideas. But my U10s did not. What they did start to get after six months of training was using their skills, finding space, and then finding their team mates. The triangles happened naturally. :)

    That said, if you were to classify our formation in an 8v8 it was a 3-3-1
  21. drc003

    drc003 Member

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    3-3-1 and 1-2-1-2-1 are basically the same formation if they are playing good soccer.
  22. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Then why not call it a 331?
  23. drc003

    drc003 Member

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    I don't remember nailing it down to any certain name. I usually call it a 3-3-1 or the dutch double diamond. I'm not sure why a name would matter. It's the application on the field that counts.
  24. KevTheGooner

    KevTheGooner Help that poor man!

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    I don't agree, at least for my girls. They fixated on whether they were the "1" or the "2" and then stayed that way. They had a hard time moving forward and back and their team-mates had a hard time reacting when they did. By just telling them "left-right-center" and "defense-midfield-striker" they were able to move forward and back into the "1" or "2" positions more naturally.

    Believe me, on paper I love the system. But in reality it didn't work out for me that way.
  25. Twenty26Six

    Twenty26Six Feeling Sheepish...

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    You've got it right, Kev. If your "3" are properly supporting each other depending on where the ball is on the field, you're going to see a 1-2 or 2-1 at times.

    A coach shouldn't tell them where to stand to be in good position. A coach should tell them what good positions are and they should find them on their own.

    I saw Manchester United in a GK-2-3-4-1 the other day. You think Ferguson and Queiroz tell them that is the formation? Or is it a 4-1-4-1? Or a 4-3-3? Or a 4-5-1? Don't obsess the numbers and positions; start teaching tactics.

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