Game Strategies and Different Systems of Play to Learn

The following post if an excerpt from a full presentation on game strategies and systems of play in the Featured Presentations section of the Soccer Awareness Training Center. Soccer Awareness Training Center provides unlimited access to Wayne Harrison's Soccer Awareness systems, training sessions, drills and more. Wayne's system helps develop world class youth soccer players and teams in a systematic and imaginative manner that guarantees performance at the highest level of competition. Whether you’re a beginning coach who needs help getting started or someone who wants to add some variety to their training sessions, the Soccer Awareness Training Center offers a wide variety of drills to choose from. Join Today

There will be many occasions where we have to change the system of play to suit the moment.
I want us to be able to play several different ways depending on the course of the game.

  • 4-2-3-1: Attacking and defending shape

  • 3-3-1-3: Note the different way the wing fullbacks defend positionally to the 4231

  • 2-3-2-3: We are losing and must take chances and attack

  • 5-4-1 and counter attacking: We are winning but under intense pressure

  • We are down to 10 players and losing: Game Strategy Changes: Set up in an offensive 4-2-3 (2-3-1-3)

  • We are down to 10 players and winning: Game Strategy changes: We set up in a 4-4-1

  • We are down to 10 players and winning: Game Strategy changes: we set up in a 5-3-1

Playing the 4-2-3-1

This is the defending team shape (defending start position) of a 4-2-3-1


Attacking Shape

This is the attacking team shape (attacking “start position”) for a 4-2-3-1. Zone 14 is the area between the opponents back three or four and their midfield. For U11, U12 and U13 to affect the minds of 7 and 11 we may call it a 4-2-1-3 so they think positive and in an attacking mode.


Overload in Zone 14

This is the attacking team shape now a 2-3-2-3 or 3-1-3-3 depending on the moment. This can also be the attacking team shape we change to when we are chasing a game perhaps losing 1-0 and wanting to be more positive in attack. So this now would be the start position.


Interchanging Positions in Attack

A lot of interchanges between positions in attack. If we lose the ball we have to be tuned into being defensively concentrated and disciplined .


Defensive Discipline

If we cannot win the ball back quickly we can alternatively drop into a compact defensive unit. Perhaps (9) can try to delay the opponents attack until we get into our best defensive set up.


Regaining Possession very close to THEIR goal so immediate high pressing as a team. A Full Team Press from back to front.

We must press up from the back too leaving opponents offside; should they get a chance of a counter attack.  First pressing player should stop the attempted forward pass. Defenders must decide in a split second which course of action they take. 


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