Instructional Positions – Attacking and Defending


Youth Soccer Coaching Manual for an Instructional Soccer Program



For the Instructional Soccer Program, it is sufficient to introduce the concept of two types of positions:

1. Strikers (Forwards)
2. Defenders (Fullbacks)

Strikers are the main force of the attack, expected to score goals. They must have a special awareness of where the attacking goal is as they play. (Often at this age, the entire team needs to be reminded of which goal is the goal where they are attempting to score! Coaches may wish to have the entire team point to the goal at which the team is trying to score, both before the start of a game and especially after switching ends before the start of the second half.)

When playing the Striker position, players need to be taught to use “speed dribbling” and the “personal pass.”

Defenders are expected to stop the opposing players from trying to score goals. They must have a special awareness of where the defending goal is as they play.

When playing the Defender position, players need to be taught the concept of being “goal-side,” getting on the imaginary line between the goal and the opponent.

In practice matches, players must be rotated between the positions. No one should be type-cast or permitted to play only one position.


Positioning should be demonstrated by the actual placement of children on the field with the explanation of the names and the duties. This is also an opportunity to introduce the aspects of the left, center, and right sides of the field, and of the attacking end and the defending end. If there is sufficient time, demonstrating the placement of players for re-starts is desirable. During practice matches, sufficient time must be allowed for the physical placement/relocation of players on both teams by each coach before a re-start is taken.

Speed dribbling is performed with the leading edge (“outside of the little toe”) area of the outside of either foot. The ankle is turned just slightly as contact is made with the ball so that the foot may fall in as natural a running stride as possible. This is an extremely challenging activity at a young age. Coaches may just wish to encourage “dribbling real fast.”

The personal pass is simply kicking the ball behind the defender and using speed to run around the defender and collect the ball on the other side.

At this age, the introduction to defending and being “goal-side” need only be the physical demonstration of “getting in the way” to keep the opposing player from getting to the goal. Coaches may wish to place a player in an attacking position and then use disks to show the imaginary line.


– Physical placement.
– Speed dribbling line-to-line.
– Personal pass around a cone, then around a stationary defender.
– Run to get “goal-side.”
– Left-right movement to stay between an opponent and the goal.

Notes:  When scrimmaging with no goalkeepers, do not “park” a defender in front of the goal.  Similarly, do not place a striker to “cherry pick” in front of the offensive goal.


© Copyright, John C. Harves