And three reasons it works
Picking the right formation is hugely important for your team. It sets them up in the right way to play the style of football you want while counteracting your opponent, gives shape to your team, and helps your players better understand their roles on the pitch. We are often asked by other coaches what our favourite formation for over 12 years old soccer is, and why. we have long been an advocate for playing a 1-4-2-3-1 system, for three reasons:
Four at the back and two central defensive midfielders provides a solid defensive base, so teams which play this formation well should not be conceding many goals. This also enables swift counter-attacking football, which is a huge source of chances, as you may have picked up from my advice on defending set pieces.
Having five in midfield, along with two centre backs and a central striker, allows the team to control the centre of the pitch – and so control possession. Dominating the ball means you can create more chances and score more goals if you use your possession effectively.
This formation is easily adaptable. One midfielder can press forward to make the formation a 1- 4-1-4-1 on the attack, the wingers can turn the formation into a 1-4-3-3, or in defensive situations can drop deeper to create a 1-4-4-1-1 formation. This means the system is flexible enough to deal with the opposition’s attacks and pose its own attacking threat in many different combinations.
This is why we always set our teams up in a 1-4-2-3-1 system, and it could work for your club too – we wish you luck in trying it out.