What 6v6 Formation Should I Play?
The Weston Soccer Club recommends the 2-1-2 formation for its 6v6 teams, for reasons that are explained below. But coaches may find it useful to consider other formations depending on their players and the circumstances. It's unusual to find a 6v6 team that can flexibly adapt to many formations, so we recommend settling on one and sticking with it. The notes below set out some key criteria that your formation should fulfill, and offer an evaluation of some of the primary 6v6 options.
Your Formation Should Help You Control the Midfield
- Rent a plane some day and watch a game from above. You’ll see that the game is fought primarily in the midfield. Control the midfield, you have a chance to control and win the game.
- It’s great to play attacking soccer – your formation should encourage this. But you need to win the ball first. That’s why controlling midfield is priority #1.
Your Formation Should Make Passing Easy
- I like to draw formations on a piece of paper, making dots for each position, and then see how many triangles I can draw by connecting the dots. More triangles means better natural passing options.
Your Formation Should Provide Depth and Width
- Set up your players so that their natural positioning gives them maximum coverage of the field. Don’t create narrow spines that force them to run madly from side to side. Don’t create big gaps from front to back that force them to scramble to cover the middle. Whatever formation you play, maximize depth and width by having your team move up and down the field as a unit.
Your Formation Should Fit Your Players
- If your crew is quite fast and covers a lot of ground, or tends to control the ball, you can afford a formation that commits more players to the attack – just be aware of the risk you take in doing so.
- If your players are not dominant athletes, consider a formation that keeps more players “behind the ball” – in midfield or back, closer to your goal – until you have won possession. THEN send your players forward once they have possession. Again, it doesn’t do you any good to attack if you haven’t won the ball first!
Now let’s talk specifics. Remember, when we speak of soccer formations we count FROM THE BACK. We’ll make some suggestions that have worked for us; you should try what you think will work for you.
2-1-2 Think of this as a square with a dot in the middle. LOTS of natural triangles, 3 rows for depth, width in attack and defense. The midfielder’s job is to help in defense AND support your 2 forwards, so it can be a lot of running. But, it’s running that the midfielders or the center forward SHOULD do in the formations listed below anyway. Yeah, we like this one.
2-2-1 Certainly stacks the midfield, but it’s a tough one to teach younger players because the two midfielders almost always think of themselves as wide players. Which means you’ve got a great gaping hole in the middle of the park. The other thing we don’t like about this formation is the fact that it isolates a single striker up top, and we’d much prefer to teach kids to play in pairs up there. If you choose this formation, make sure you teach your midfielders to slide across the field. So if your right back has the ball your right midfielder slides over to the right wing and your left midfielder slides into the middle of the field to give a diagonal passing option AND to cover if the right back gives the ball away! The midfielders do the opposite if the left back has the ball. Again, a tough one for most young players, sets up few natural triangles unless your midfielders are VERY well orchestrated…
2-3 Probably the most commonly seen 6v6 formation. Gets bodies into attack efficiently. Decent number of natural passing options. 3 main problems: first, it’s only 2 rows deep – not fabulous depth, if you ask us. Second, if THEY play a 2-3 as well then they’ve got 3 attackers on your 2 defenders unless you get a forward to help out in back. Finally, the forwards line up in a straight line and tend to stay that way, which makes defending them EASY and which substantially reduces passing options. If you go with the 2-3, teach your center forward about playing slightly behind his 2 wings to create a triangle.
1-1-3 Oh no. Please, no. This formation violates almost every known principle of balance. It creates more depth, which is good, but very little width behind the forwards. We’d LOVE to coach AGAINST this formation. We’d push the ball up the sides, where there’s lots of space, and just switch the ball to the other side if a defender came over to challenge us. Kids have to be VERY well schooled indeed to know how to cover for each other laterally in a formation that orients them vertically. And it ALWAYS winds up with the poor sweeper back there picking daisies, which is no fun and does nothing for development. Not many triangles at all with this formation. Can you tell how we feel about it?
1-3-1 Sure covers the midfield, doesn’t it? Wide midfielders must cover back AND get forward, and you may not have 2 players who can cover this much ground. But it’s an interesting risk to consider taking…