formationsFormations are what we talk about when discussing the shape of a team.

The chosen formation will be relevant to the payers that you have available and the roles they are comfortable to play. It will also be relevant to the tactics you plan to play in your game.

The formation is simply an outline for arranging players in spaces on the field that compliment your strengths and hide your weaknesses. You could select your formation to expose weaknesses in your opponents formation.

If you ask someone what formation their team plays, they will answer you something like, 442, 433, 352 or 4132 for example. This is simply the number of players you would have fill the areas we describe as defence, midfield and attacking positions. On paper they may look like this:



Before we go too in depth into different kinds of formations, have a read of this article on shape,size and space from to explain what we are actually talking about.

Lets take a look at 352, this is 3 defenders, 5 midfield players and 2 forwards. Players are given roles that they are comfortable playing with. If you look at the video below you will see how the shape of the team adapts depending on where the ball is on the field.


This is one persons interpretation of how a team plays or how they would like to play. There are no set rules to the formation and how people move in and out of positions, which means every team can work differently to their players strengths and weaknessess.

I think you are getting the idea so have a look at these other guides to formations and see what they have to say about each one.

Thinkquests guide to football formations

The BBC Academy’s guide to team formations

Talk footballs guide to formations

Now these are great guides and can certainly help individual players to understand where they are expected to be in different situations. However, it is not including a very important piece of information, the opposition.


Like the video on the left states, the best system is the one that works best for you.

If your opponent has three forward players, you should consider to play with at least three defenders.

The real answer as to what formation you should play, is one you have to work out for, or with your team.

Here is a great read for considering which formations should be played against each other.

What I would now like to remind you of is a simple fact.

Regardless of the formation and individuals starting positions in the teams line up….

When our team has the ball, we are all attacking
When the opponent has the ball, we are all defending.

I believe it is important to reinforce this to your players.

CLICK HERE and have a play with this game.

The game allows you to choose one of three formations.

If you don’t understand the language, I’m sure you will work it out, just by playing (you use your mouse!).


Facebook Iconfacebook like buttonYouTube IconSubscribe on YouTubeTwitter Icontwitter follow button