Formations – Systems of Play

NGS 11v11 1-4-3-3 Formation

What Are Systems of Play?

A system of play can be described as the ‘framework’ in which we set up our team prior to a game. The system of play or commonly know as ‘team formation’ governs how we ask our players to perform both individually and collectively as a team. The system of play consists of a starting formation and guidelines for carrying out the primary functions in attacking and defensive play, but beyond this we should aim to teach our players ‘roles’ within the team, and promote fluidity and flexibility, where defensive players take opportunities to attack, and attackers do not neglect their defensive responsibilities within the team. The opposite of this would be asking players to be rigid in their ‘positions’ – defenders not to cross half way, and attacking players watching the rest of the team defend.

What Are The Recommended Systems of Play and What Are They Based On?

US Soccer (USSF) recommends and promotes a ‘fluid’ 1-4-3-3 system for 11v11 soccer. With player development a key focus of our club philosophy, our developmental goals are to prepare the players for their next step in the development pathway and ultimately 11v11 soccer. At U12 and below, our players play small sided formats of the game, so the recommended systems for those formats are based on consistency with the 1-4-3-3 at 11v11, with the roles players perform in the team at 4v4, 6v6 and 8v8 remaining relevant as they progress through each age group and format of the game.

Systems of Play should include the following characteristics:

  • Players should always be equally divided over the field to maintain team balance and stop themselves of being outnumbered in dangerous areas.
  • The largest number of players possible around the ball to prevent teams dominating possession and increase the chance of their team winning it back.
  • The maximum possible participation of every player in both attack and defense and each player must have equal responsibilities.

Maximum flexibility of the system, players should be able to swap roles along the length and breadth of the field and as well allow each player the freedom to express their skills and abilities in the best possible way.

The recommended systems of play allow us to promote a ‘whole club’ identity and consistency between our coaches, teams and players and what is being taught, while allowing us to provide more comprehensive coaching resources and education.

Further in-depth information can be found using the important links section. It is worthwhile reading through all systems of play from 4v4 – 6v6 – 8v8 – 11v11 to understand the correlation and tactical concepts with each formation.