Deciding positions?

Discussion in 'Coach' started by Viking Striker, Dec 4, 2004.

  1. Viking Striker

    Viking Striker New Member

    Dec 4, 2004
    I'm a player for my area's high school but I've always had ambitions about coaching. We finished are last season fairly abysmally, coming out with an 8-2-3 record. As our freshmen season came to a close, several things came up into question about next year:

    -One of our starting forwards (3 goals, 5 assists in 13 games) won't be returning next year, leaving questions as to who will replace him.

    -Our defense has several good candidates, but deciding who will play where has become an issue.

    In the first issue the two most likely candidates are, for anonymity's sake A and B. Both are very good, but neither has had a place on the starting line for various reasons.

    A has proved his ability to finish when given the opportunity (2 goals in 13 games) and is arguably the faster of the two. However he is often slow to come back and help pressure the other team when we're on defense. The other, B only has 5 games with under his belt for injuries, missing practices, etc, and didn't score at all last season. He is a more powerful shooter and is the flashier of the two. He also has a tendency to shoot from far out a give the ball away.

    The last thing to consider is which supports our other forward best. He is our leading scorer (10 goals in 13 games) and probably could have had double that. B makes more crosses across field so he is perhaps more ideal here.

    I was wondering which would, in a definitive answer, be the more likely candidate. Both are roughly equal in skill level, it's just they have different habits and tendencies.

    As for our defense, we have lots of issues.

    The best candidate for sweeper is one of the best players on our team, and has played midfield for us last year. He's devastating on the midfield line and has the most assists on our team (5) as well as 2 good goals. He's quick, has amazing ball control, and has played sweeper before. The question is whether or not he should stay on the middie line or become sweeper.

    Our current sweeper was originally a left half-back then left-back, and sweeper was new to him this year, but our coach decided to try to mold him into a sweeper. He has speed and is effectively ambidexterous as fas a clearing is concerned, but he has mediocre ball control and is afraid to play the ball with his head, which is needless to say, a problem. He would make a good left back/right back, but he probably couldn't cut it on the midfield line due to his inability to dribble effectively.

    Next is our current stopper, who transferred to defense from forward at the beginning of the season, so he has the abilty to shoot and take players one on one. That made him ideal for stopper as it is the most offensive defensive position. He goes up for and wins most balls played in the air in his area. He is a very well-rounded player and many believe he could be sweeper if we don't want the midfielder off the middie line.

    As for stopper/outside backs we have players A, B, and C. A is fast, good righty, tall, and has decent one on one and clearing skills. B is shorter, relatively fast, good righty, and is a bit more offensively capable, and is more knowledgeable than A about where he should be a times, but he is shorter which is still an issue. C is between them both and didn't start for us at all (A started all year, B when we had our final starting line-up set), but is between the two in height, the most aggressive and has a tendency to go over the top with what is expected of him.

    We play 4-4-2 with a sweeper, two outside backs, and a stopper as our back four.

    I know this might not be enough to really make an accurate decision but I thought that if any high school/college level coaches/players thought that certain qualities made for better players in different areas than you could try to help me based on what I've said.
  2. Coach_Barry

    Coach_Barry Member

    Aug 18, 2001
    Taunton, MA
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I have been coaching youth soccer for the past 5 years. My current team just finished their first fall in high school and will be traveling with me for the spring season. We play a 4-4-2, similar to the set up you described with a diamond in the back.

    Your descriptions of your teammates was a little confusing for me, so I will ignore it and just give you my thoughts going about each position.

    Starting in the back, I think the most important attribute for a sweeper is the ability to read the game, see the attack developing, and respond with good leadership and positioning. The sweeper should be able to keep the rest of the defenders organized and should be able to get the them to hold an offside line. Speed is a bonus, but my current sweeper isn't really quick, but smart.

    All defenders, including the sweeper, should be strong and accurate tacklers and, at a minimum, have a strong kick for clearing the ball. They should be calm, simple players who are not likely to get caught playing with the ball in the back, but can dribble well and pass fairly accurately. I would move faster players onto the wing.

    I like a strong, calm player for stopper. Again, a good tackler, with good vision, who can dribble in tight spaces if needs be. A stopper who is too quick to get rid of the ball will not give the midfielders and forwards time to get organized once the ball is won back. With a diamond in the back, a 4-4-2 should look a lot like a 3-5-2 in the attack with the stopper filling in the space left by an attacking center midfielder.

    In the center of midfield, I am less concerned about speed as I am about good passing and being able to dribble in tight spaces. These 2 players are a team unto themselves and the better they understand each other the better your team will play. They should be there to cover and support each other as one presses up in the attack and the other provides depth in the midfield. The stopper would make the 3rd player in this most important triangle of players.

    Ideally, my wide midfielders are fit, quick with and without the ball and good crossers with either foot. I prefer to play the ball out wide from the back and rely on my wide midfielders to run and dribble the ball up the wings when possible. They would be my most fit and fastest players with the ball at their feet.

    All midfielders must understand their defensive duties as well and a player who does not come back to help the defense would be better off as a forward or possibly one of the 2 center defenders if the other is more defensive minded.

    Forwards seem to be born and not made. If a guy has a knack for putting the ball in the net, then he is a forward. I like to see who is willing to pull the trigger in practice. One touch stuff, good heading and creativity will keep the defense guessing. Ideally, pairing a quick forward with a strong and sturdy partner gets the best of both worlds, but if the ball gets in the net then the job is done. Defense is also important here. I tell my kids all the time that we would rather win the ball back in their 18 than in ours. Pressuring the keeper and the defenders will get you at least one goal every season.

    I hope it helps. Good luck.

    DUTCHVIZ New Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Springfield, VA
    Hi VS, I'll ignore the specific question and respond to your ambition about coaching.

    1) The resources at will give you some ideas about books and videos. Rinus Michels Team Building is a very good resource to learn about systems of play.

    2) Watch for information on scholarships for young coaches. The residential camp dates this year will be July 3-8. Details will be posted in January. We also sponsor young coaches to the USYS National Youth License if there's one in your area.

    Good luck.

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