This summer I spent a good bit of time reading through the U.S. Soccer Federations latest recommendations and coaching curriculum. There really isn’t anything new or ground breaking presented but the one thing that caught my attention was the recommendation that teams playing 11 v 11 should consider playing in a 4-3-3 formation.
I’ve never put too much emphasis on the formation my teams played. I focused on how the team played within the formation which was usually a 4-4-2 or occasionally a 3-4-3. Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the 4-3-3 I realized how much the players could learn from the fluid nature of the system. There are so many decisions for the players to make and every one is an opportunity for them to learn. As a coach of youth teams I believe that my primary responsibility is teach the players as much as possible in my few years of working with them. Wins and loses fad quickly but the technical, tactical lessons learned are carried into every other game that they will ever play. So with this in mind I decided to play the system with my U13 girls team.
Sporting KC also opened their new stadium this summer so I’ve attended more of their games than ever before. Coincidentally, Sporting KC began playing a 4-3-3 system. Being able to watch the system being played by professional players has been a great learning experience for me. I’m not going to expect that my girls will be able to execute the way professional players do but seeing how it should be played will help me point them in the right direction. This will also give us an opportunity to take the team to a game so they can see how it’s done first hand. It’s very hard get the same feel for it when you watch it on television.
We have a number of books and DVDs that discuss the 4-3-3 system of play and I’ve gone through them all. I highly recommend them to anyone who wants to learn more about the system.
Our first practice was canceled because of the extreme heat that we’ve been experiencing this summer. This allowed me to get the girls together and show them Randy Waldrum’s Coaching the 4-3-3 Defending. Coach Waldrum does a great job of describing the roles and responsibilities of the players when they are defending. Seeing these ‘pictures’ will help them recognize them on the practice field. Here’s a short clip from this DVD:
I started with the defensive aspects because I see that as the biggest challenge. Who picks up attacking players in the wide areas is something that the players will need to become comfortable with if we are going to play the system successfully. As much as I’d like to focus on technical aspects of they game in our preseason sessions, getting the players comfortable with the new system will have to make up the first few practices. I plan to return to my usual technical development sessions once this foundation is in place. I’ll write more about how this transition is going (for both me and the girls) in the coming weeks.
Please share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post.
Have a great day!