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Before the pandemic, many soccer coaches were convinced that a specific ‘System of Play’ was the secret recipe that would guarantee victory and success. Are you still one of them?

If you are a ‘Systems-Supporter,’ then you may want to heed the advice of some very successful coaches who believe that soccer cannot be evaluated along mathematical lines because:

  • Reactions and patterns of behavior cannot be calculated.
  • Unpredictable conflicts which the players must come to term with including physical and mental maturation.
  • Uncertainty of human behavior must allow “FREE” decision-making.
  • There is a need for “FREE” creativity, ‘FREE’ genius to display itself, and a FREEdom of responsibility.

Surely you have read books of the fancy systems that brought fame and glory to teams in the past. Yet, experienced coaches know there was more to the system than just the numbers. Charles Hughes stated, “There is no system which will overcome inaccurate passing or shooting.” Dettmar Cramer once eloquently said, “Physical fitness, perfect technique, and general tactics in attack and defense are the first steps on the road to success.”

Some have even suggested that the word “System” is too rigid and should be replaced with FRAMEWORK! Soccer-Framework roughly defined: Giving basic structure to cover the depth/width of the field and distributing the tasks according to each player’s unique weaknesses and strength.

Soccer-Framework at work:

  • Look at each individual’s strengths and place the player where the strength is most helpful.
  • Use stronger players where they can control the flow of the game.
  • Place players in a position where they feel most comfortable, and the tasks suit them.
  • Don’t juggle around figures but rather an attitude, willingness, and ability of the players.
  • Program your players properly in advance and avoid changing tactics that you have not practiced.
  • The game and the opponent will dictate the framework you should use.

Simplifying Soccer:

  • Play CAUTIOUSLY and without errors inside the DEFENDING 1/3.


  • Take CHANCES and increase speed-of-play inside the MID-1/3.


  • Take RISKS both in Attack & Defense inside the ATTACKING 1/3.


Soccer Framework

Illustration from, ‘FUNdamental SOCCER – TACTICS’ the book includes more excellent details 

Final Notes: Thank you for Reading this article and Sharing it with your soccer community. Your Komments on this subject are requested and very much appreciated!

Your FUNdamental,

Koach Karl (Karl Dewazien)

Dr. Jay Martin

Editor: United Soccer Coaches, “Soccer Journal” Author: Recently published his first book, “Lessons from a Great Coach: Develop a Winning Team Culture That Lasts!” Head Coach: Ohio Wesleyan is the winningest coach in NCAA men's soccer history with 749 wins, making him the first men's soccer coach to reach 700 wins. Heading into the 2023 season, he boasts a 749-158-80 record and a career winning percentage of .799, ranking 14th all-time in the NCAA. Under his guidance, the 2022 Bishops were NCAC tournament champions, and the staff was named NCAC Coaching Staff of the Year for the 10th time. In 45 seasons, Martin's teams have a 297-30-24 conference play record, winning 26 conference crowns. Martin led Ohio Wesleyan to NCAA Division III national championships in 1998 and 2011 and has reached the NCAA Division III semifinals nine times. His teams hold records for playoff appearances (43) and victories (65). Awards: 16-time NCAA Regional Coach of the Year. Inducted into the United Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame in 2020. Beyond soccer: A successful lacrosse coaching career and has turned out 61 All-America and 214 all-region or All-Midwest players in both sports. He served as president of the NSCAA and spent six years on the NCAA Division III selection committee. Martin, a professor and former athletics director at Ohio Wesleyan, has also been a color analyst for the MLS's Columbus Crew for nine seasons. Learn more about Dr. Jay Martin at Super Soccer Camp at Ohio Wesleyan University.