Want to Know About the
Soccer Positions on a Team?

Overview of the Soccer Positions Page

I have put a brief description of the soccer positions on a team in the Basic Guide to the Game if you are a beginner and would just like a very basic explanation.

This page will go deeper with the soccer positions. I am going to explain about the different talents and fundamentals you will want to be strongest in for each position.

This page may give you a new way to think about how you play your position. Or maybe you know your position well and are looking into other soccer positions. This page will help with that as well.

The Soccer Positions- Offensive

There are many ways to set up a team, but I am going to give you the most common one which I have always found to be most effective.

The basic structure of the offensive set up (when you start with the kick off) is shown in the photo below.

There are two strikers (red), four midfielders (yellow), four defenders (blue), and a goal keeper (purple).

Player Duties - Offensive

  • The strikers will almost always play on the opposing side of the center line, and normally closer to the opposing penalty area and beyond when on the offense.
  • The outside midfielders or right and left wingers will play along the outside of the field (usually within a few yards of the sideline) and stay almost in line with the strikers on the offense.
  • The center midfielders, often times split into a more attacking and a more defending midfielder, will play along the center of the field and do most of the driving toward the opposing goal and stay a little ways behind the strikers.
  • The wide defenders or fullbacks play a short ways behind the wingers (about in line with the center midfielders) when on the offense. They will also overlap to in front of the wingers, on occasion, to burn a defending player with a pass from the winger (the winger must then cover the position of fullback until the position switches back).
  • The center defenders or stoppers stay behind in case there is a long pass to the opposing strikers. There job is to cover the opposing strikers and they usually do not leave there own side of the center line (some teams will drop one of the stoppers to the position of sweeper).
  • The goal keeper almost never leaves the penalty box on his own side and will always be ready for a shot on the goal.

The idea on the offense is to be attacking in two lines of four players. If your offensive players are good at working together, this set up is hard to fight off.

The Soccer Positions- Defensive

The basic structure of a defensive set up (when the opposing team starts with the ball) is shown below.

The number of players in each position is the same, so the players who are both offensive and defensive (the midfielders and fullbacks) need to be able to adjust between positions quickly.

Player Duties - Defensive

  • When playing defensively, the strikers will drop back and play closer to the center line. However, they still only come onto the defensive side of the line if needed. This is so that the defending players can send a ball past the opposing offense for a drive at the goal.
  • The wingers drop back to form a line of four with the center midfielders, and will pick up the opposing wingers or fullbacks (usually the fullbacks, but it will vary with the play of the game).
  • The center midfielders try to pick off the opposing midfielders who will be driving the ball up the center.
  • The fullbacks drop back to form a line of four with the stoppers. They also try to stay a short way behind the wingers and assist in taking on the opposing wingers or fullbacks (whichever their own wingers are not taking, this is usually the opposing wingers).
  • The stopper's job is to take on the opposing strikers.
  • Once again the goal keeper pretty much stays within the penalty box and often times will need to be inside the goalie box.

Like the offensive set up, this makes the main structure two lines of four. Except this time it is just on the defensive side if the field.

The two lines of four is a strong set up. If a soccer team can get this structure down well, then it will automatically step up the level of play.

Basics of the Soccer Positions

When playing soccer, the skills you develop and which fundamentals you are strongest in will depend a lot upon which soccer position you either like to play or just get put at a lot.

For example: a soccer position such as the goal keeper would require a whole different set of skills than any other position. It would require you to learn more with your hands, drop kicks, and free kicks.

Also a defensive player on the soccer team would need more tackling and long passing skills than a more offensive player who, in turn, would need more dribbling and shooting skills (though passing is still incredibly important).

I have learned that it is best that, no matter what position you normally play, to learn as many skills and positions as you can (though you still want to be strong in the ones pertaining to your position).

Some of the main reasons for this are:

  • Your coach may move you to another position if necessary
  • You may cover another players position if the need should arise in the heat of the game.
  • All skills can be applied in any position (with the exception of using your hands in the keeper's place)

One Last Note

While this structure is powerful, I do not want you to think it is set in stone.

In a soccer game, many times improvisation is needed. Sometimes a player needs to leave his position and another player has to cover the hole that is left behind.

You can also move more players to offense or defense or make other changes as you see fit for your team.

Many teams will drop

I'm just trying to say there is no mandatory set up, but this is a very strong one.

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