9v9 Formations

9 a side football introduces the offside rule, larger pitches and larger goals. See the information we've put together on moving to 9v9 for some general thoughts from manager's currently working in that format on some of things you may want to consider...

The 3-4-1 Formation (or 3-2-3)

This is the formation we saw most frequently at 9 a side football by a long way. With the ball it's a 3-2-3 and without it becomes a 3-4-1. Plenty of width in attack, cover all over the pitch and 3 defenders seems the right number for the size of pitch and age of players to provide adequate cover at the back, with the two central midfielders expected to work hard up and down the pitch. It's a good precursor to moving to a formation that works with a front three in 11 a side (4-3-3 or 3-4-3).

The 4-3-1 Formation

This formation introduces the idea of wing backs and getting your width from 2 players who are expecting to both attack and defend with energy and pace. They operate around a central diamond of midfield / attacking players and two centre backs. Obvious disadvantage is if both wing backs think their primary job is to attack, you end up very exposed at the back potentially, but if they have the energy to get up and down the pitch, you can create serious overloads when attacking and be very hard to break down when they drop back to make a back 4. The player in the CDM role will need to understand the need to provide cover.

The 3-3-2 Formation

I was never convinced by this, but some teams used it to good effect, especially when chasing a game and needing a goal. The two up front can be confusing for opposition at this age group, partly just because the majority of teams seemed to play with one central striker, so handling the movement of two players wasn't something they were used to. The danger is being overrun in midfield if you have two strikers.

The 2-4-2 formation (or 4-2-2)

Another one to use a front 2, I prefer this to the previous setup because you have less chance of being overrun in midfield. But - the two wing backs have to have bags of energy and an understanding of their attacking and defensive duties or you end up being horribly open at the back (or lightweight in attacking wide areas) if they don't.