Posts tagged ‘4-3-3’

Position Specific Possession

This week’s Animated Drill Video is a position specific possession game that will not only train your players to keep the ball but create patterns that they will be able to use in match situations.

The diagram is being created with our online Session Designer that is available through the Member Drills Database.

Please share your ideas for ways to train your players so that their ability to possess the ball in the context of their position in the comments section below the video or on this page.

Have a great week!


Passing by the Numbers

This week’s Animated Drill Video is of a passing pattern that can be used for a number of purposes. It’s a great technical passing exercise, it’s perfect for teaching some of the passing connections in a 4-3-3 and it can be a fitness exercises as well.

The diagram is being created with our online Session Designer that is available through the Member Drills Database.

Please share your ideas for progressions and variations in the comments section below.

Have a great week!


Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

We’ve recently released the third edition of our books on Coaching Team Shape. The first one covered the 3-3-1 for playing small-sided games. The second in the series looks at  the 4-2-3-1. This edition focuses on the 4-3-3 formation.

Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3 shows you how to give players the positional discipline they may be lacking with grid based training. Not only do grids force players to maintain team shape, but it also helps to improve their decision making, passing angles and gives them a deeper understanding of how to move the ball quickly up the pitch.

This excerpt of the book covers the movements of the central midfielders and striker.

Central Midfielders & Central Striker

The reason we will look at the central striker and the central midfield together is that the striker takes their position from the movement of the midfield. They should work by moving in a rotation to create angles for each other and cause headaches for the opposition. We will look at their movement depending on which area of the field the ball is in.

When the Defensive Midfielder has Possession Deep:
The most important factor for the 3 midfielders and CST is to work together and be a successful unit by rotating to constantly make diamonds with their movement and positioning. This gives passing options at different angles and depths to penetrate the opposition’s lines. The CST takes their position off the CM’s.

4.0 Continue reading ‘Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3’ »

Training Sessions for the 4-3-3

One of our latest books has generated a lot of interesting. Both the hard copy and the eBook version of ‘Training Sessions for the 4-3-3‘ have been a very popular choice of coaches visiting The book is a guide that provides exercises, drills and small-sided games that teach players how to perform the roles and responsibilities of each position in a 4-3-3 formation.

Continue reading ‘Training Sessions for the 4-3-3’ »

Developing a Style of Play

There are three thinks that I think contribute to the formation and system that coaches choose to play with. The qualities and personalities of the players on the team is most important. If you have a lot of attacking personalities then a system like the 4-3-3 makes sense. If you have a forward who holds the ball well and can play with their back to goal then you could use a 4-5-1 effectively. But each system can be played with a different style; possession, direct attacking, counter attack, etc.

The second contributing factor is the coaches preference. Most coaches Continue reading ‘Developing a Style of Play’ »

Attacking in the Final Third

The June edition of the WORLD CLASS COACHING magazine that is part of the Member Drills Database will have a session from Elmar Bolowich, Head Men’s Coach at Creighton University. He presented it during the 2013 Nebraska WORLD CLASS COACHING International Seminar. The focus is on Continue reading ‘Attacking in the Final Third’ »

The Triangle Midfield

The two most popular systems of play in the world at the moment are the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1. Both are predicated on creating a connection between a group of three midfielders. Getting these players to understand their roles and work together are the key factors that will contribute to the success or failure of the team.


Our latest book, Triangle Midfield tells you everything you need to know about Continue reading ‘The Triangle Midfield’ »

Defending on the Sides in the 4-2-3-1

One of the factors that always kept me from moving away from the 4-4-2 was a concern for how to cover the wide areas using a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. Once I understood how to teach my players to recognize cues and cover for each other I saw how the systems could be used to teach players more about the game. Requiring them to make decisions is the best way for them to learn rather than just putting them in a formation that has strictly defined roles where they just, ‘do their job’.

Stevie Grieve’s latest book, Coaching the 4-2-3-1 Advanced Tactics, does a great job Continue reading ‘Defending on the Sides in the 4-2-3-1’ »

Is the 4-3-3 Making a Comeback?

This blog post from Vasco Mota Pereira of ‘Combination Play‘ got my attention recently. It contends that the 4-3-3 formation may come back into vague despite the popularity of the 4-2-3-1. It’s an interested point of view that I thought you would enjoy. 

Football, like most (all?) things in life, has its trends. Not that many years ago, playing anything other than a plain 4-3-3 would be sacrilegious (let’s leave England alone, for now). In fact, when 4x2x3x1 started rearing its head, with Quique Flores its main champion, it was a bit criticized (including here) for numerous reasons. On the other hand, just like the two-man midfield, a three-man defense looked all but dead, some reminiscence from the Beckenbauer times. As this text is getting to you, it seems impossible to get away from either 4-2-3-1 (or 4-4-1-1, which is basically the same thing) or some version of a three-man defense (especially in Italy), nowadays – and there is hardly any team playing a true version of a 4-3-3.

A typical 4-2-3-1 formation

It is often said (with good reason) that games are not won on paper, sincethere is no one given tactical system that is Continue reading ‘Is the 4-3-3 Making a Comeback?’ »

A Variation of the 4-3-3

No formation will fit every group of players. A coach that plays the exact same formation with every team will be frustrated by certain players inability to, ‘fit the formation’. For years my teams always played 4-4-2. There are some variations you can used depending on how you play your forwards and your central midfielders but that’s pretty much it. Sure, you could play sweeper/stopper with the center backs but very few teams play with a sweeper in the modern game. You can change every
formation to a small degree but I feel that the 4-3-3 is the most customizable of all of the popular formations.

There are so many ways to vary the 4-3-3. You can play with the midfielders spread across the field with a right, left and center. They can be in a Continue reading ‘A Variation of the 4-3-3’ »