Of all of the youth soccer formations, the 4-4-2 is the most popular and the most flexible, for good reason.
Each position and role in a 4-4-2 is easy to understand, and players can learn their roles relatively easily.
The 4-4-2 gives team the ability to attack with numbers and defend with numbers, making it a very versatile formation.
Role of the defenders
The 4 defenders must operate as a team and combine to provide pressure on the ball and supportive defensive positions in order to maintain a balanced defensive formation.
Role of the central defenders
The central defenders are the core of the defence. Often one is nominated as a sweeper and it is the sweeper that controls and directs the defence. The central defenders should not be drawn out wide, and should be disciplined to stay within the central corridor. ie no wider than the boundaries of the penalty area.
Role of the wide defenders
The wide defenders have defensive and attacking duties.
If the attack is coming down the right hand side, then the left sided defender should move across to the center of the pitch to offer a good balanced defence.
The general rule of thumb is that the wide defenders should not stray past the middle of the pitch.
The wide defenders can also be used in an attacking way by offering overlapping runs and then crossing the ball for the forwards to strike on goal.
Role of the midfielders
The 4 midfielders are the engine of the team and must possess great endurance and stamina.
The midfielders provide the link between the defense and the attack, they must work as a unit, and must offer good support for the defense, when defending and good support and ball distribution for the forwards.
Role of the central midfielders
The central midfielders are the main work horse of the midfield, often the main providers of attacking moves by good ball distribution to either the overlapping fullbacks, the wide midfielders or by laying the ball to the forwards feet and then offering good supporting positions.
Role of the wide midfielders
The wide midfielders have defensive and attacking duties.
The wide midfielders are used in an attacking way by providing wide runs and then crossing the ball for the forwards to strike on goal.
If the attack is coming down the right hand side, then the left sided midfielder should move across to the center of the pitch to offer a good support for the forwards
The general rule of thumb is that the wide midfielders should not stray past the middle of the pitch.
The wide midfielders defensive duties are normally by filling in the position of a wide defender and offering a balanced defensive formation when the attack is coming down on the opposite flank.
Role of the forwards
The 2 forwards role is quite simple, to score goals. They should maintain a central position and make sure that they are in “the danger zone”, ready to pounce on any potential shooting opportunity.
The forwards should not be drawn out wide, and should be disciplined to stay within the central corridor. ie no wider than the boundaries of the penalty area
The forwards must be aggressive to the ball and take every opportunity to have a shot on goal.