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📚 Coach's Playbook


Positions in Soccer: A Guide for Youth Rec Soccer Coaches


If you’re new to coaching soccer, understanding player positions is key to ensuring a well-organized and effective team. Here’s a simple breakdown of the primary positions in soccer: forwards/attackers, midfielders, defenders, and goalie.

General Tips

When in doubt, spread out: Encourage players to make use of the entire field rather than clustering together. Try to get the players wide.

One player on the ball at a time: This is one I like to use a lot. There’s no reason two players with the same uniform on should be next to the ball. If someone else is on the ball, spread out and move.


Role: To score goals.

Characteristics: Speed, shooting accuracy, and the ability to dodge defenders.

High-Level Explanation: As a forward, your main job is to get the ball into the net. You’re the one everyone will be looking at when the team needs a goal. Position yourself close to the opponent’s goal and look for opportunities to score.


Role: To connect the defense and the attack.

Characteristics: Good at passing, strong stamina, and tactical understanding.

High-Level Explanation: Midfielders are the all-rounders. They’re involved in both defending and attacking. They’re usually in the middle of the field, and they distribute the ball to forwards while also helping to block the opponent’s advances.


Role: To prevent the opposing team from scoring.

Characteristics: Strong, good at tackling, and positional awareness.

High-Level Explanation: As a defender, your task is to stop the opponent from getting close to your goal. You’ll often find yourself blocking shots and clearing the ball away from the danger zone.


Knowing the basic roles of each position can greatly help you in organizing your team and understanding the game better. As you gain experience, you can dive deeper into the various roles and tactics within each position.

When in doubt, spread out.

Mini-Lesson Plan for Understanding the Concept

Objective: Make sure the players understand why it’s important to spread out and play positions.

Time: About 10 minutes at the start of your next practice.


Analogies: Use simple analogies that they can relate to. For example, “If we all crowd in one spot, who’s going to be open to receive a pass? It’s like everyone trying to go through one door at the same time; it doesn’t work well.”

Visuals: Use a whiteboard or field diagram to show good and bad positioning. You can even use small toys or figures to represent players.

Benefits: Explain that by spreading out, they make it easier to pass, easier to score, and easier to defend.

Questions: Ask a few questions to check understanding. For example, “Why do you think spreading out helps us?” or “What happens when we all run to the ball?”

Interactive Component: Allow two or three players to demonstrate “herd ball” and “good positioning” on the field.

Summarize: Reinforce the key points before you wrap up the mini-lesson.