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Fundamental Soccer Blog


First of all, I am going to split this subject into two different views:


How you want to put your 11 players in a certain position is for me in which formation do you want to start your team to play. For example, we have 1-4-4-2 or 1-4-4-3 as a start. Still, nowadays, we see many variations, and the top teams can change their formation during the game. In Europe in the Champions League, we see many variations in a 1-5-3-2 or 1-3-5-2 or 1-3-4-3 formation.

The formation also tells us if you want to play with wingbacks, wingers, full-backs, sweeper, holding midfielders, 2 strikers, etc. Not any of these formations is more attacking or more a defensive model. In any formation, you can play attacking football or more defensive football.


If you want to pressure on their half or from your half, the system tells us to play on attack, play counter-attack, play ball possession, play offside, play high tempo, etc.
Kids should first learn the principles of how to defend, how to attack, and how to perform the transition from attack to defense or from defense to attack. This counts for all eleven players on the pitch but should be taught already in small-sided games from 4 v 4, 5 v 5, 6 v 6, 7 v 7, and 8 v 8.
During their time playing small-sided games, kids learn their favorite role. Some of them already show affection to a more defensive role or attacking role.
But from 14 years or older, we try to find their best position in which they still are allowed to use the three-game practices of defending, attacking, and transition.

Never restrict a player from being creative. Allow the young players to discover by trial and error when to dribble, when to pass and when to shoot. Practice is the best learning phase, not the theory.
As a coach, you are their guide. You help them to discover their best qualities and on what position they can best practice.
Which formation or system should be taught from 14 years or older? You will find that many young players started in attack but later felt more comfortable in defense. So we see that many modern wingbacks started as wingers. Many central midfielders now play as central defenders. ( Virgil Van Dijk- Liverpool started professional career at FC Groningen as an attacker)
Most of all, teach your young players that they are part of a team and that teamwork is based on winning the ball, controlling the ball, finishing……and having FUN!

Koach Karl’s Notes:

Thank You! Coach Rob Baan for sharing your insights with FUNdamental SOCCER!

I am also hoping that YOU (the reader) will join the discussion; because your input may help another program improve and that is what this forum is all about. Should you have any questions for Coach Bann? Please send them to me!

Finally, I pray that everyone is and will continue to be Healthy and Happy!

Robert Baan

Has had the honor of working with some of the top clubs in the world (Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven, Roda JC, Al-Jazzera, ADO Den Haag, FC Twenty, etc.) And as a Technical Director, he gained respect in the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, and India. He worked for Dutch clubs such as ADO and FC Den Haag, FC VVV, Roda JC, FC Twente, PSV, Cambuur, Excelsior and Sparta. And was technical director of Feyenoord for six seasons, where he was partly responsible for winning the UEFA Cup in 2002. He was also assistant coach of the Dutch national team, structured the football organizations in Australia and India, and was active with Al-Jazira in the United Arab Emirates. Through his friendship with Alan Maher, Coach Baan has been a silent contributor to FUNdamental SOCCER since the 1980's.