Which Position? A or B?

by Erik Imler

In the image below, where would you choose to put the left midfielder for the red team….

Position A  or  Position B?

I watched the red team (U12 soccer playing 8v8) play for the entire half. While they did a solid job defending, they struggled in the transitional moments of the game.  On many occasions, the players recognized that upon winning possession of the ball they had to switch the point of attack to the weak side of the field.  While the ball would often find the feet of the left midfielder, the red team’s attack would sputter and stall when his starting position was Position A as position A did not allow the red team to relieve pressure….and a red team turnover would result.

As a coach what do you do? Do you encourage the left midfielder to select the B starting position?  If so, why?

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It is very difficult to say Position A is correct while Position B is incorrect…and vice versa. So many factors may play into your decision.

  • Circumstances of game
  • Strength of opponent
  • Conditions of field
  • Speed (or lack there of)
  • Technical qualities of players
  • Score

In the particular match I was watching, all things were fairly even…including the scoreline.  I would have liked to have seen the red team’s midfielder take up the starting Position B to determine how it might have impacted the game.  If that starting position changed,

  • What starting position would the black team’s right midfielder take?
  • Would the red team find an immediate outlet upon winning possession and create dangerous counter-attacking options?
  • Would the movement of the red team’s left midfielder negate forward movement of the black team’s right midfielder?

My hope is that the coach addresses/has addressed this dynamic with the players.

And perhaps, has allowed the players to talk through this particular scenario to uncover a tactical solution. Maybe the players will offer the correct solution….they are smarter than we often give them credit for.

 

About Erik Imler

A Retired Professional Player, NCAA Champion (1989,1991,1992), and 1992 U.S. Olympic Team (Barcelona, Spain)who is dis-satisfied with the status quo of youth soccer development in the United States and motivated to create a youth program that addresses the most prominent technical deficiencies in many youth players - passing & receiving.

  • I am all for spreading the field as much as possible on attack and would say B is correct. This allows more off the ball movement and spreads there defense and pulls them apart. Then you can pin their defenders/wide mids out and allow for attacking the half space, centrally and wife from that position. Use it all the time with my men’s team, and it crushes defenders on quick transitions and leads to many scoring opportunities.

      • You ever hear of the term: Get your shoes white? That helps with shape for the wide players to get as wide as possible. It helps to conceptualize. Also, sell them on the time and space it creates just by moving 5-10 yards away. Once they see it, they get it. Hard to see it if you don’t walk them through it.

      • Many years ago I was given a possession game where the kid on the balls passing target is the player
        with the most room around them at the furthest distance (within their technical range) is the first option. It starts with encouraging good field vision and inserting different aspects to a possession game. Options like your target is the player who you make eye contact with, the player running the fast the player at the greatest distance…….

  • assuming formation is 3-3-1. If the black team has the ball, as in the diagram, the left midfielder needs to be in position A in order to be connected to the central midfielder for defensive support. At the point of transition, the left midfielder needs to move to position B to create width in attack. In my mind, position A is the defensive position and position B is the offensive position.

    This all changes if the formation is 3-2-2 or 2-3-2.

    this question about the team struggling to get the ball to the midfielder in position B, reminds me of this video, that speaks about trusting your teamate to win the battle:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-zcyod2pjY

  • Without getting into the specific situation of the game, as I see it less important in an 8v8/development context. My comments also don’t consider the specific attributes of the player as there are many possibilities or what playing style you wanted to execute e.g. setting your team up to play in a counter attacking way etc.

    How about the Red player occupy a ‘half-half’ position in between the two starting points (A and B).

    My rational is that they can be close enough to the defensive line to provide some cover to the back three and deal with the potential threat of the Black right midfielder in case of a forward run. Additionally they could then provide immediate pressure to the Black right midfielder if they get the ball and potentially create a 2v1 on the Black centre mid if they receive the ball. Also with good body positioning, and I think this is key, could they arrive on touch or track a run from the advancing right back if the play was switched quickly.

    If you were to choose Position A, the task that you give to the Red player in Position A is crucial. If you were instructing them to be narrow, compact and ball side, goal side, as I think the picture indicates. The need to get high and wide at speed is critical if your first pass is to be forward. An alternative is to play a ‘safety pass’, typically backwards or square to enable the player in question to take up a more attacking position.

    If you were to choose Position B, then the tasks of the other red players in transition become very important. Position B indicates that you want a quick outlet to play forward when the ball is recovered. If the mentioned player does not find themselves in a 1v1 situation then the supporting runs become very important as to avoid isolating the front player.

    Just my thoughts.

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