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4-2-3-1 Introduction
• This document is designed to provide a general introduction to
playing the 4-2-3-1 formation.
• The...
4-2-3-1 Overview
• The 4-2-3-1 is one of the most popular soccer formations in
the game today.
• The formation is designed...
4-2-3-1 Formation
• The formation below uses the traditional numbers for each
position.
# 9
X
# 11
X
# 10
X
# 7
X
# 6
X
# ...
# 9
X
# 11
X
# 10
X
# 7
X
# 6
X
# 8
X
# 3
X# 5
X
# 4
X
# 2
X
G
4-2-3-1 Opening Shape
• Playing out from the back, this sho...
4-2-3-1 Attacking Shape
• In the offensive end of the field, the formation should transition to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-1-3
• It is...
4-2-3-1 Defending Shape
• In the defensive half of the field, the formation transitions to a 4-4-1-1. The outside halfback...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#9 – Central Striker
# 9
X
# 11
X
# 10
X
# 7
X
# 6
X
# 8
X
# 3
X
# 5
X
# 4
X
# 2
X
G
Player Attribu...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#9 – Central Striker
# 9
X
Area of Responsibility: High up the field, usually in the middle
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#10 – Center Attacking Mid
# 9
X
# 11
X
# 10
X
# 7
X
# 6
X
# 8
X
# 3
X
# 5
X
# 4
X
# 2
X
G
Player A...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#10 – Center Attacking Mid
# 10
X
Area of Responsibility: Support defensively but focus on offense
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#11 – Left Attacking Mid
# 9
X
# 11
X
# 10
X
# 7
X
# 6
X
# 8
X
# 3
X
# 5
X
# 4
X
# 2
X
G
Player Att...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#11 – Left Attacking Mid
# 11
X
Area of Responsibility: Stay pinched in, support central striker in...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#7 – Right Attacking Mid
# 9
X
# 11
X
# 10
X
# 7
X
# 6
X
# 8
X
# 3
X
# 5
X
# 4
X
# 2
X
G
Player Att...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#11 – Left Attacking Mid
# 7
X
Area of Responsibility: Stay pinched in, support central striker in ...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#6 – Holding Mid
# 9
X
# 11
X
# 10
X
# 7
X
# 6
X
# 8
X
# 3
X
# 5
X
# 6
X
# 4
X
G
Player Attributes
...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#6 – Holding Mid
# 6
X
Area of Responsibility: Stay central in front of defenders, win the ball
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#6 – Holding Mid
# 9
X
# 11
X
# 10
X
# 7
X
# 8
X
# 8
X
# 3
X
# 5
X
# 4
X
# 2
X
G
Player Attributes
...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#6 – Holding Mid
# 8
X
Area of Responsibility: Stay central in front of defenders, win the ball
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#2 – Outside Back
# 9
X
# 11
X
# 10
X
# 7
X
# 8
X
# 6
X
# 3
X
# 5
X
# 4
X
# 2
X
G
Player Attributes...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#2 – Outside Back
# 2
X
Area of Responsibility: Get wide and overlap, force play wide on defense
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#3 – Outside Back
# 9
X
# 11
X
# 10
X
# 7
X
# 8
X
# 6
X
# 3
X
# 5
X
# 4
X
# 2
X
G
Player Attributes...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#3 – Outside Back
# 3
X
Area of Responsibility: Get wide and overlap, force play wide on defense
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#4 & 5 – Central defense
# 9
X
# 11
X
# 10
X
# 7
X
# 8
X
# 6
X
# 3
X
# 5
X
# 4
X
# 2
X
G
Player Att...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#4 & 5 – Central defense
# 5
X
Area of Responsibility: Stay central and organized, force play wide
...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#G – Goalie
# 9
X
# 11
X
# 10
X
# 7
X
# 8
X
# 6
X
# 3
X
# 5
X
# 4
X
# 2
X
G
Responsibilities
Offens...
4-2-3-1 Position Roles
#G – Goalie
Area of Responsibility: Organize defense, start offensive play from back
G
4-2-3-1 Phases of Possession
There are four phases of possession as we move from
offense to defense.
1. Build Up
Phase
2. ...
Playing the 4 2-3-1 (Updated 9-29-15)
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Playing the 4 2-3-1 (Updated 9-29-15)

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This is an update to the first version I posted on Slideshare about a year ago. It includes player attributes for each position and

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Playing the 4 2-3-1 (Updated 9-29-15)

  1. 1. 4-2-3-1 Introduction • This document is designed to provide a general introduction to playing the 4-2-3-1 formation. • There are many variations to playing the 4-2-3-1 and this document should not be considered a comprehensive manual. • Soccer is a fluid game. The areas of responsibility outlined in the slides are meant to show where players should generally be. It does not mean that players can’t or shouldn’t move out of these areas of responsibility during the course of a game. • The purpose is to offer an introduction to playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation and allow coaches to build off this foundation to suit their own style of play.
  2. 2. 4-2-3-1 Overview • The 4-2-3-1 is one of the most popular soccer formations in the game today. • The formation is designed to out-number the opposition in midfield, but have enough flexibility to support both the defense and offense quickly and effectively. • Player roles are clearly defined. Midfielders, wingers, defenders and strikers all know their default responsibilities and it's a safe formation to use. • One of our goals will be for every player to understand their role and where they need to be positioned on the field.
  3. 3. 4-2-3-1 Formation • The formation below uses the traditional numbers for each position. # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 6 X # 8 X # 3 X # 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G
  4. 4. # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 6 X # 8 X # 3 X# 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G 4-2-3-1 Opening Shape • Playing out from the back, this should be the opening shape when the goalie puts the ball in play. • The purpose is to make the field as large as possible to play the ball out and create overloads where we have more players in an area of the field than the opposition • Center backs move to corners of the 18 yard box • Wing backs push high up the field and wide (“chalk on boots”) • One of the defensive midfielders drops in between the two center backs • Outside midfielders stay tucked in closer to the middle to allow space for the outside backs
  5. 5. 4-2-3-1 Attacking Shape • In the offensive end of the field, the formation should transition to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-1-3 • It is critical that the midfielders quickly join the attack to help provide numbers as most defenses will have four defenders. The lone forward will be stranded without support if midfielders are slow to get into the final third. # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 6 X # 8 X # 3 X # 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G
  6. 6. 4-2-3-1 Defending Shape • In the defensive half of the field, the formation transitions to a 4-4-1-1. The outside halfbacks drop to form a block of four with the two defensive midfielders • A strength of the 4-2-3-1 formation is that it is defensively solid. You can essentially form two blocks of four that will be difficult to break down if you can keep your shape defensively and not get stretched out. # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 6 X # 8 X # 3 X # 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G
  7. 7. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #9 – Central Striker # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 6 X # 8 X # 3 X # 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G Player Attributes • A big strong player who is strong on the ball and can play with his back to the goal OR • A fast player who can exploit spaces between the defense and get behind for through balls and balls over the top • Excellent finishing abilities Responsibilities Offense • Score goals • Hold the ball with back to goal and pass to attacking midfielders • Play give and go’s with supporting players • Make runs between defenders for through balls from attacking midfielders Defense • Pressure defenders with the ball • Force play to one side of the field to make it easier to defend in the offensive half
  8. 8. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #9 – Central Striker # 9 X Area of Responsibility: High up the field, usually in the middle
  9. 9. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #10 – Center Attacking Mid # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 6 X # 8 X # 3 X # 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G Player Attributes • Should be technically excellent (passing, dribbling, first touch) and able to play with both feet • Good vision and reads the game well • Knows where the ball is going next before it is received Responsibilities Offense • Set up goals with passing • Play the ball out to #11 and #7 • Play give and go’s with #9 • Play through balls between defenders for #9, #11 and #7 • Use #6 and #8 to maintain possession when receiving ball with back to goal. Defense • Pressure defensive midfielder when he has the ball • Drop centrally to clog middle and force ball out wide
  10. 10. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #10 – Center Attacking Mid # 10 X Area of Responsibility: Support defensively but focus on offense
  11. 11. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #11 – Left Attacking Mid # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 6 X # 8 X # 3 X # 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G Player Attributes • Should be technically excellent (passing, dribbling, first touch) and able to play with both feet but preferably right footed • Fast • Attacking mindset, willing to take players on in the final third Responsibilities Offense • Stay pinched in closer to the middle and get into attack when ball moves forward • Play the ball out wide to overlapping #3 • Play give and go’s with #9 and #10 • Play through balls between defenders for #9 and #10 • Cut in on right foot to take shots at goal Defense • Pressure outside defensive back when he has the ball • Force the ball wide towards the sideline • Covers defensively for #3 when he goes forward on overlapping run
  12. 12. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #11 – Left Attacking Mid # 11 X Area of Responsibility: Stay pinched in, support central striker in attack
  13. 13. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #7 – Right Attacking Mid # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 6 X # 8 X # 3 X # 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G Player Attributes • Should be technically excellent (passing, dribbling, first touch) and able to play with both feet but preferably left footed • Fast • Attacking mindset, willing to take players on in the final third Responsibilities Offense • Stay pinched in closer to the middle and get into attack when ball moves forward • Play the ball out wide to overlapping #2 • Play give and go’s with #9 and #10 • Play through balls between defenders for #9 and #10 • Cut in on left foot to take shots on goal Defense • Pressure outside defensive back when he has the ball • Force the ball wide towards the sideline • Covers defensively for #2 when he goes forward on overlapping run
  14. 14. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #11 – Left Attacking Mid # 7 X Area of Responsibility: Stay pinched in, support central striker in attack
  15. 15. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #6 – Holding Mid # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 6 X # 8 X # 3 X # 5 X # 6 X # 4 X G Player Attributes • Good defensively, wins 50/50 challenges often • Excellent passing and vision • Can cover a lot of ground in the midfield – i.e. a ball hawk • Good spatial awareness Responsibilities Offense • Play the ball wide to #3 on overlaps • Play give and go’s with #11 and #10 • Play balls over the top to #9 Defense • Cut off passing lanes from opposition midfield to forward • Close down space on opposition offensive midfielders • Stays in front of defense to support • Drops into middle between #5 and #6 when they spread wide to play the ball out of the back
  16. 16. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #6 – Holding Mid # 6 X Area of Responsibility: Stay central in front of defenders, win the ball
  17. 17. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #6 – Holding Mid # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 8 X # 8 X # 3 X # 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G Player Attributes • Good defensively, wins 50/50 challenges often • Excellent passing and vision • Can cover a lot of ground in the midfield – i.e. a ball hawk • Good spatial awareness Responsibilities Offense • Play the ball wide to #2 on overlaps • Play give and go’s with #11 and #10 • Play balls over the top to #9 Defense • Cut off passing lanes from opposition midfield to forward • Close down space on opposition offensive midfielders • Stays in front of defense to support • Drops into middle between #5 and #6 when they spread wide to play the ball out of the back
  18. 18. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #6 – Holding Mid # 8 X Area of Responsibility: Stay central in front of defenders, win the ball
  19. 19. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #2 – Outside Back # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 8 X # 6 X # 3 X # 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G Player Attributes • Good defensively, wins 50/50 challenges often • Excellent dribbling skills • Fast • Willingness to run the entire length of the field • Desire to get into offense on overlaps Responsibilities Offense • Stay wide – “chalk on boots” • Play ball through #8 and #7 • Overlap, overlap, overlap • Take ball to end line and cross into #9 or cut back to offensive midfielders Defense • Mark wingers from other team • Force play wide towards sideline and prevent crosses from coming in • Pinch close into #4 when team loses possession
  20. 20. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #2 – Outside Back # 2 X Area of Responsibility: Get wide and overlap, force play wide on defense
  21. 21. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #3 – Outside Back # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 8 X # 6 X # 3 X # 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G Player Attributes • Good defensively, wins 50/50 challenges often • Excellent dribbling skills • Fast • Willingness to run the entire length of the field • Desire to get into offense on overlaps Responsibilities Offense • Stay wide – “chalk on boots” • Play ball through #6 and #11 • Overlap, overlap, overlap • Take ball to end line and cross into #9 or cut back to offensive midfielders Defense • Mark wingers from other team • Force play wide towards sideline and prevent crosses from coming in • Pinch close into #5 when team loses
  22. 22. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #3 – Outside Back # 3 X Area of Responsibility: Get wide and overlap, force play wide on defense
  23. 23. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #4 & 5 – Central defense # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 8 X # 6 X # 3 X # 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G Player Attributes • Good defensively • Strong in the air • Excellent passing skills • Ability to lead defense and keep defensive shape (compact and organized) Responsibilities Offense • Play the ball wide to #3 and #2 • Play ball through #6 and #8 • Support midfield to maintain possession • Get to corners of the 18 yard box to begin play from the back. Defense • Mark central strikers from other team • Win tackles and headers • Use the goalkeeper to keep possession
  24. 24. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #4 & 5 – Central defense # 5 X Area of Responsibility: Stay central and organized, force play wide # 4 X
  25. 25. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #G – Goalie # 9 X # 11 X # 10 X # 7 X # 8 X # 6 X # 3 X # 5 X # 4 X # 2 X G Responsibilities Offense • Good distribution to outside backs • Move to support fullbacks to maintain possession. • Look to start quick counter attacks when opposition has committed numbers offensively. Defense • Stop shots • Make sure defenders are covering players and staying compact
  26. 26. 4-2-3-1 Position Roles #G – Goalie Area of Responsibility: Organize defense, start offensive play from back G
  27. 27. 4-2-3-1 Phases of Possession There are four phases of possession as we move from offense to defense. 1. Build Up Phase 2. Consolidation Phase 3. Penetration Phase 4. Finishing Phase • Build safe possession • Move ball across defense into consolidation phase via the defensive midfielders • Continue safe possession • Play into penetration phase when attacking player can receive ball in dangerous position • Through balls • Give & Gos • 3rd man runs • Overloads • Dribbling • Get into scoring position and FINISH!! • Take risks, be brave. Conservative / Safe Aggressive / Risk

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