2612568276918. Positional Play in Systems

Positional Play in Systems

Positional Play in Systems

Book 4

by Jimmy Gabriel


In 1967, a group of individuals got together and formed an Association for our youth, centered around the game of soccer, which has endured and developed the following organizational philosophy.


To be recognized by our membership and soccer community as a world-class provider of youth soccer services.


To promote the game of soccer and to provide opportunities for all youth under the age of nineteen who register with us, to play affiliated soccer at a level commensurate with ability and interest. We will emphasize the development of self-esteem, good sportsmanship, fitness, achievement, teamwork and skill through the playing of the game; and provide educational opportunities to further develop all players, coaches, referees and administrators.

The Vision and Mission statements above are our creed. Following in this thought, the Association takes great pride in its approach of teaching life’s lessons to our youth. This environment is intended to create an enjoyable soccer experience as well as develop young athletes.

Many individuals have contributed to the success of the Association Programs over the years. To all those individuals, the Association is truly grateful for the contributions and sacrifices they made on behalf of our youth.

The Fundamentals of Positional Play in a Specific System

The idea for writing this booklet arose from the numerous occasions in my coaching career when I have needed to fit a system of play around the particular strengths of the players that I’ve been coaching.

My experience with Everton FC as their reserve team coach was invaluable, as has my experience of working with Dean Wurzberger the head coach of the University of Washington Soccer Team.

Deans UW men’s team have been extremely successful since his arrival and that is due in no small part to his meticulous attention to detail especially in the area of performance expectations from his players.

Dean has been especially helpful in helping to create a simple but effective way to pass the necessary information of the coaches’ expectations onto the players.

It was as we were preparing the positional requirements for yet another successful UW system that I thought that the information we were presenting to the players should be made available to every player playing in a specific system.

Players need to know what the coach expects of them, and this booklet will provide the player and the coach with that information.

When I was a player, I was never content with just knowing what was expected of me and my positional play, I also wanted to know what was expected of the other players and this booklet will give players that information also.

To make a system effective each player is expected to fill a role and to do the job in such a manner that the whole team will benefit from the performance.

To be effective the system must provide a team balance that will cater for the strengths of each player and in effect use each player’s strength to cover another’s weakness.

Therefore, players need to know exactly what the coach expects from them when they are assigned their specific positions.

Players cannot be expected to discover the dos and don’ts of each role through their playing experiences, they need to be informed of their role expectations and that of their teammates before the start of each game.

The reinforcement of that role information to the players before each game acts as a reminder to each player that they are of special importance to the team and that a solid performance by them linked to similar performances by their teammates will go a long way to ensure a victory for the team.

Each position is of particular importance in the two basic areas of team play known as defense and attack.

Each player has a specific role to play in both of these areas and I will explain these roles. However, there are also four areas of performance that need to be addressed by the coaches so that the players know what is expected of them in each of these areas as far as priority within each job description.

I’m talking about each player’s role in the areas of;

Winning the ball—Keeping the ball—Making chances—Scoring goals

These areas will be marked “Very important´, ³Important´ or “Not important´ to show what the coach expects from the player playing that position.

³Very important´; this means that the task is extremely important to that position.

³Important´; this means that the task is important but not the main task for that position.

³Not important´; this means that the task carries some importance but is not essential to the playing of that position.

Let’s take the goalkeeper as an example; the keeper would be expected to win the ball through making saves and collecting crosses.

The keeper would also be expected to keep the ball by distributing it to teammates using different throwing or kicking techniques to do so.

Both of these areas would be marked “Very important´.

The keeper would not be expected to either make chances or score goals for the team so they would be marked “Not important´.

Anything marked ³Important´ would mean that the task was an expected part of the job but wasn’t the most important part.

Also, the players that are referred to in each diagram will be  shown as a block letter.

While the goalkeepers will always be shown as a block letter

The South American 4-3-3 System

I first saw this system of play when I was witness to the Argentina National teams performance in the 1978 World Cup Finals.

The tournament was played in Argentina and as you can imagine a tremendous amount of pressure was put on the Argentinean players to win the World Cup on their home ground. This they did, even beating the Dutch National team who brought their “Clockwork Orange” style of play to Argentina.

I must admit that I was a big fan of the Dutch style of play and was cheering for them in the final game, which matched them against the Argentina National team.

However, the Argentinean team showed the World that their style and system of play was as good as and, on this day, better than the Dutch system by winning 3-1 in overtime after the game had ended tied 1-1.

I can remember thinking that the style and system of play that the Argentineans preferred was very different from the one we played in the English leagues, but it was very effective and involved lots of skillful play from each individual player.

I particularly liked the role of the deep third attacker or attacking midfielder who could support the two center forwards or break into penetration space in front of them and in this World Cup Final the Argentinean attacking midfielder had scored two goals.

Years later I witnessed the same system being played in England when an Argentinean International player named Ossie Ardele’s became manager of Swindon Town, a team I had once played for.

Swindon Town started to become successful especially in the area of scoring goals and their attacking midfielder played an especially important part in that success by scoring lots of goals.


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Regards, Coyalita Linville

Behavioral Health Rehabilitative Specialist & Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor

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