9v9 3-4-1

For a midfield-heavy formation that lacks fire-power, counter-attacking is it’s main weapon.


Strong in defence, it uses an interlinking system when repelling attacks. It is also strong in midfield and will not get overrun by other formations on the 9v9 pitch. It has good support via the wide midfielders both in attack and defence.


Lightweight in attack, this is a tiring formation for one striker unless a rotation system is put in place. It’s also hard on the wide midfielders, who have to support the attack as wingers and get back to act as wing backs in defence.

9v9 3-4-1

Coaching notes


With only one player to get the ball to, attack is the weakest feature of this formation. The striker will need support from central and wide midfield players.

  • When going forward, must hold the ball up and wait for support, or go it alone for fast counter-attacks.
  • In defence, must put a lot of effort into pressing the ball high up the pitch to make it harder for the opposition to get good passes away


The midfield is the powerhouse, pressing opponents and dropping to support the defence when the team is out of possession. It pushes up in support when the team is on the attack. It is also strong enough to hold its own against any attacking formation, but must work hard, especially the wide players.

  • Wide midfielders – When defending, must tuck into squeeze space in midfield, stopping attacks and making it hard for passes to be played through the defence
  • Wide midfielders – Going forward must support the attack on the wings, pulling the opposition defence wide and sending good crosses to the lone attacker
  • Central midfielders – In defence, they drop back to support the lone central defender
  • Central midfielers – Must push up in support of the attack, one alongside the attacker the other deeper, looking for any loose balls


An interlinking combination between midfield and defenders means that if players hold positions and coordinate movements, they will be hard to pass through. Have the outside midfielders covering the full backs if they are under attack from wide players.

  • Full backs – In attack, must push up in support of the midfield, to provide cover for a counter-attack or give an outlet if the winger or central defender gets backed in
  • Full backs – In defence, drop and tuck in to keep wingers out wide and tighten up the backline
  • Centre back – Must play like a sweeper when the team is attacking in order to give cover along the backline for any long balls out of the opposition defence

Coaching Development

In this formation, the team sits deep to soak up pressure and wins the ball to counter-attack. Success relies on the midfield/defence combination, which is a good learning curve for players because the midfield formation, and to some extent the defensive system, will adapt to the 11v11 game. The striker has to work hard and learn how to hold the ball up.

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