Tag Archives for " 4-3-3 "

Don’t Pass to Your Line – 4-3-3

By Mike Smith Don’t pass to your line. One of my coaching mentors used to use this rule during training and scrimmages to help a very young and inexperienced high school team develop vision, composure and move the ball. Initially, we would revert to “traditional” soccer during games( which wasn’t the greatest), but mid way through

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A Quick Guide to the 1-4-3-3 - Part One


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Position Specific Possession

This week's Animated Drill Video is a position specific possession game that will not only train your players to keep the ball but create patterns that they will be able to use in match situations. [wpsharely id="6889"][wpsharely][/wpsharely] The diagram is being created with our online Session Designer that is available through the Member Drills Database. Please share

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Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

We've recently released the third edition of our books on Coaching Team Shape. The first one covered the 3-3-1 for playing small-sided games. The second in the series looks at  the 4-2-3-1. This edition focuses on the 4-3-3 formation.

Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3 shows you how to give players the positional discipline they may be lacking with grid based training. Not only do grids force players to maintain team shape, but it also helps to improve their decision making, passing angles and gives them a deeper understanding of how to move the ball quickly up the pitch.

This excerpt of the book covers the movements of the central midfielders and striker.

Central Midfielders & Central Striker

The reason we will look at the central striker and the central midfield together is that the striker takes their position from the movement of the midfield. They should work by moving in a rotation to create angles for each other and cause headaches for the opposition. We will look at their movement depending on which area of the field the ball is in.

When the Defensive Midfielder has Possession Deep:
The most important factor for the 3 midfielders and CST is to work together and be a successful unit by rotating to constantly make diamonds with their movement and positioning. This gives passing options at different angles and depths to penetrate the opposition’s lines. The CST takes their position off the CM’s.


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Tactical 4-3-3 Exercise

This post is part of the "Tactical Exercises" chapter for our Training Sessions for the 4-3-3 book.



  • 6 to 8 players.
  • Two teams of 3 or 4 players (3x3 or 4x4) in a reduced field of dimensions of 15x15 meters.
  • Each team will have two smaller goals to defend and two smaller goals to score.
  • Each player can give a maximum of 3 touches on the ball. If more touches than allowed the ball will be given to the opposite team.
  • The player may not, in any circumstances, stand still inside of the goal, making the role of goalkeeper. Also will not be allowed to
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Training Sessions for the 4-3-3

One of our latest books has generated a lot of interesting. Both the hard copy and the eBook version of 'Training Sessions for the 4-3-3' have been a very popular choice of coaches visiting CoachingSoccerTactics.com. The book is a guide that provides exercises, drills and small-sided games that teach players how to perform the roles and responsibilities of each position in a 4-3-3 formation.

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Attacking Features of the 4-3-3

This post is from the Training Sessions For the 4-3-3 book.  This excerpt is from the section that takes a look at the attacking features of the 4-3-3.


When our team had possession of the ball, our Wings had freedom to attack.

The only caveat to both was not to reach the attack line together, and always position one a little further back, quickly recovering the defense if the ball was intercepted by the opponent. One or both wings could also assume the role of offensive midfielder, helping in the attack and creating an offensive superiority situation.

Our offensive midfielder advanced his position by getting to the point of the

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Developing a Style of Play

There are three thinks that I think contribute to the formation and system that coaches choose to play with. The qualities and personalities of the players on the team is most important. If you have a lot of attacking personalities then a system like the 4-3-3 makes sense. If you have a forward who holds the ball well and can play with their back to goal then you could use a 4-5-1 effectively. But each system can be played with a different style; possession, direct attacking, counter attack, etc.

The second contributing factor is the coaches preference. Most coaches

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The Triangle Midfield

The two most popular systems of play in the world at the moment are the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1. Both are predicated on creating a connection between a group of three midfielders. Getting these players to understand their roles and work together are the key factors that will contribute to the success or failure of the team.


Our latest book, Triangle Midfield tells you everything you need to know about

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Coaching the Barcelona 4-3-3 Attacking

This article is an excerpt from our new eBook by Scott Allison - Coaching the Barcelona 4-3-3

Attacking in the Final Third

Exercise 1: Combination play in and around the box

To develop good combinations in and around the box that lead to goal-scoring opportunities in the scoring zone from central positions.

In this exercise you need a minimum of 8 players and a goalkeeper attacking a goal (For larger groups duplicate the exercise with another group going towards another goal. Use a penalty box area and have two groups working from either side of the goal. Players positioned on the goal line start the exercise with a ball. Three players are positioned in a triangle at the edge of the box (use markers as a guide for players). One Goalkeeper in the goal:


The exercise begins with player A passing the ball to player B. A then moves forward and player B plays a quick combination with A. A then passes to C. C plays a pass to D and makes a

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Defending on the Sides in the 4-2-3-1

One of the factors that always kept me from moving away from the 4-4-2 was a concern for how to cover the wide areas using a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. Once I understood how to teach my players to recognize cues and cover for each other I saw how the systems could be used to teach players more about the game. Requiring them to make decisions is the best way for them to learn rather than just putting them in a formation that has strictly defined roles where they just, 'do their job'.


Stevie Grieve's latest book, Coaching the 4-2-3-1 Advanced Tactics, does a great job

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Is the 4-3-3 Making a Comeback?

This blog post from Vasco Mota Pereira of 'Combination Play' got my attention recently. It contends that the 4-3-3 formation may come back into vogue despite the popularity of the 4-2-3-1. It's an interested point of view that I thought you would enjoy. 

Football, like most (all?) things in life, has its trends. Not that many years ago, playing anything other than a plain 4-3-3 would be sacrilegious (let's leave England alone, for now). In fact, when 4x2x3x1 started rearing its head, with Quique Flores its main champion, it was a bit criticized (including here) for numerous reasons. On the other hand, just like the two-man midfield, a three-man defense looked all but dead, some reminiscence from the Beckenbauer times. As this text is getting to you, it seems impossible to get away from either 4-2-3-1 (or 4-4-1-1, which is basically the same thing) or some version of a three-man defense (especially in Italy), nowadays - and there is hardly any team playing a true version of a 4-3-3.

433Blog1A typical 4-2-3-1 formation

It is often said (with good reason) that games are not won on paper, sincethere is no one given tactical system that is

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A Variation of the 4-3-3

No formation will fit every group of players. A coach that plays the exact same formation with every team will be frustrated by certain players inability to, 'fit the formation'. For years my teams always played 4-4-2. There are some variations you can used depending on how you play your forwards and your central midfielders but that's pretty much it. Sure, you could play sweeper/stopper with the center backs but very few teams play with a sweeper in the modern game. You can change every
formation to a small degree but I feel that the 4-3-3 is the most customizable of all of the popular formations.

There are so many ways to vary the 4-3-3. You can play with the midfielders spread across the field with a right, left and center. They can be in a

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Do Spain Play With a 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or Both?

By Stevie Grieve, author of Modern Soccer Tactics

Spain’s formation is a source of great debate and intrigue. Is it a 4-3-3? Is it a 4-3-3-0? Is it a 4-6-0? Is it a 4-2-3-1? Is it a 4-2-4-0? Is it a 4-2-2-2?

I think it’s a combination of the above. Some matches they will ensure they have a central striker, generally Cesc Fabregas, who will rotate this role with David Silva, with Xavi and Iniesta floating around the space between midfield and defense. They play with a narrow attacking 4-2-3-1 or a narrow 4-3-3 as Alba and Arbeloa do a great job or providing width very high up the field and allowing Spain to regularly outnumber teams between defense and midfield, allowing them to play between the lines frequently.

In the final where Spain played undoubtedly their best football of the tournament, they played a combination of 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1, and Xavi’s position dictated the shape. In some attacking phases with the ball in the opposition half, he would drop deep and 2 of the 3 of Silva, Iniesta and Cesc would play in between the defense and midfield with Alba and Arbeloa the full backs on the outside, with the other of the front 3 staying as a central striker. In some defensive transition phases, Spain would revert to a 4-2-3-1 with Alonso and Busquets screening the defense, with Xavi, Iniesta and Silva pressing in front, with Cesc as the main striker. When they win the ball back, they would stay in this formation and confuse the opposition as players positions and the marking responsibilities have changed again.

Xavi and Iniesta switch positions – 4-3-3 inside opposition half

Xavi drops into a 4-3-3 as Silva and Iniesta drop off from the front to offer passes from midfield. Xavi passes wide to Alba and

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Preparing for State Cup

It's hard to believe that the end of the soccer year is coming so quickly. Our State Cup is June 1/2/3 so were in review mode to prepare for the biggest tournament of the year. We want to do our best to be successful because the winners of State Cup attend the Regional Tournament to play against the best teams in our Region. The players learn so much for that type of experience that I want the girls to have that opportunity.

We've covered a lot this year and I've really seen

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