Formations 9v9: 3-2-3


PROS: Creating a lot of natural triangles, this formation enables fast forward play and plenty of options to pass around opponents. With three forwards supported by two midfielders, it is very attacking.
CONS: Light in midfield if the attackers are not getting back to help out, this formation can be weak against a counterattack if the midfield duo have pushed up in attack.


Defenders can be quickly outnumbered with only two in midfield to protect them, especially on the counterattack. The fullbacks must push into midfield when attacking and tuck in when the ball is lost. This is vital if the midfielders are caught upfield.


The two midfielders are vital to this formation. Supportive in attack, they must work hard to get back and cover any opposition breaks. At the moment of transition, they must flood back into midfield and try to get behind the ball.


The strongest feature of this formation, it plays forward with three attackers and the support of the midfield and fullbacks. The three forwards can play as two wingers and a centre forward or tuck in with three central attackers fed by the two midfielders. There is also the option for overlapping fullbacks.

Player development

This is very close to being the 4-3-3 of 9v9. This means when the players are ready to move up to 11-a-side they will already be used to a similar system and will handle the transition more easily. All that is needed is another centre back and an extra midfielder. Rather like a student building up to taking end of year exams, they will slowly build up their knowledge of this system.
It is vital players switch through all the different positions so they have a clear idea of what players have to do in those positions, making it more likely they will be supportive in attack and defence.


    1. The fullbacks have a lot of space in front of them to fill, supporting the midfield and the attackers
    2. The central defender has a lot of passing options to set up an attack – and don’t forget, if the player can see a clear route to his centre forward he should take the opportunity for a long pass
    3. The work rate of the midfield duo is key to making the formation work. They are the focal point of the triangular movement, with most passes going through them to build up an attack
    4. With three in attack the options are many. The team can have three going central or two going central or play with a target man and two wingers
    5. If the team follows the first principle of attack by spreading wide and long, the keeper will have a lot of places to make the first pass. Make sure they practice throwing the ball out to one of the defenders


    1. Fullbacks drop and tuck in to keep the wingers out wide in order to tighten up the backline
    2. The central defender must stay further forward to create a defensive triangle with the midfield duo
    3. The midfield duo must tuck in and communicate with the central defender so they are in the best position to protect the defence
    4. Vital to the defence is the pressing high up the pitch by the three attackers – their main challenge is to win the ball back and press their opponents into making a mistake
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