Soccer Position Numbers

Hey all,

So my amazing coach is hot and heavy on how we all need to be prepared for the future and learn squad numbers. This was after some convincing and a lot of confusion! Actually, I can’t express how confused I was at first but I finally seem to be getting a handle on it.

So let me first paint a picture for you. Our new head coach, Bob was handing out positions for a drill and said, “Emma I need you to play a 10, while Jenn plays your 8.” I think we both looked at him crosseyed, I think I grunted in confusion, and he instantly asked if we’d ever been taught numbers… This was after he had already handed out other positions so I guess people were too nervous to ask what nonsense he was talking about.

When he asked us about numbers, thankfully most of the team didn’t know they were. He then tried to give us a quick 10 minute briefing explaining the roles of the numbers, but I think we got even more confused. He finally drew it out on a clipboard and the girls finally understood… kind of soft of.

Anyway, for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, here is the number system that Wiki says has been around since 1924… in circles I don’t frequent I guess. <shrug>

Here’s what Europe and the rest of the world use for positions:

  • 1 Goalkeeper
  • 3 Left defensive back
  • 4 Left Center defensive back
  • 5 Right Center defensive back
  • 2 Right defensive back
  • 6 Defensive Midfielder
  • 8 Central Midfielder
  • 10 Attacking Midfielder
  • 7 Right Wing
  • 9 Striker
  • 11 Left Wing

Confusing? Yeah, me too. lol Here’s a picture to help visualize what I’m laying down for you:

Numbered Positions

In this layout, we’re running a 4, 5, 1 but you could also say it’s a 4, 3, 3.

Typically, I’ve grown up playing a wide 4, 3, 3, with 4 true defenders, 3 mids, and 3 forwards. We’ve worked like you’re supposed to and we push everything wide, up the outside and then pull everything in to rock and roll a goal once we get to the 18.

It took a lot of exercises to understand the roles and movement but after a few days, we really started to move easier than in the past.

Frankly, in this setup we’ve actually become a lot more fluid moving the ball around in more natural shapes than our old positions. What I mean is this, if I’m playing a 10 and my friend Jenn is playing an 8 behind me, she isn’t as reluctant to switch sides as she would have been in the past. Most days, she’s right nearby to save my butt when I need a drop and she pounces on their attackers when I lose the ball over something stupid.

Between her as the 8, me as the 10, and another friend as the 6, we work pretty well maintaining good shape during play, although 8 and 6 get flat more often than not.

Our 11 and 3 on the left side and 7 and 2 on the right side also work much better together now that we’ve opened up the touchlines with 3 in the midfield area. By midfield playing in a bit, theres often chances for our 3s and 2s to run an outside touchline route, moving the ball up from defense. I don’t think I’m explaining this right, but in the past, if a 3 was moving the ball up, the left mid would already be occupying the same space she’d be trying to travel. In other words, we’re opening up the sides for easier movement and we back each other up more naturally than ever before.

Explaining to my Mom why I didn’t push up on the attack so much when I was playing a 6 is incredibly difficult but I’m hoping she’ll read this post and get a little better grasp on what we’re trying to accomplish. My biggest concern is if I make it onto a college team and they go back to the US standard positions like you see in MLS.

We’re only about a month of training into this system so I’ll try to write something else about it later when I get more applied experience playing this style in a game.

Take care and here’s to being off to a good start on my awesome blog!


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