9v9 Soccer Formations: The Complete Guide


9v9 soccer formations featured image

9v9 soccer formations are primarily used in the u11, u12, and u13 age categories. 9v9 means there are 9 players on each team in a soccer game. 

If you’re involved in 9v9 games in any capacity, you should be aware of the range of formations available for teams to use.

Here are the best 9v9 formations.

9v9 Soccer Formations:

  • 3-3-2
  • 4-3-1
  • 3-1-3-1
  • 2-4-2
  • 2-3-3
  • 3-4-1

Each of these soccer formations is worth trying depending on what your team is trying to achieve.

In this article, we’ll look at each of these formations in detail. 

I’ll show you 

  • when you should consider using each formation
  • What the benefits of each formation are
  • and what the negatives of each formation are.

For more helpful information, make sure you check out my article – Soccer Formations: A Complete Guide – for a complete rundown of soccer formations for all sizes of teams.


3-3-2 Soccer Formation

The 3-3-2 soccer formation is probably the most common in 9v9 soccer games.

3-3-2 Formation for 9v9 Soccer
3-3-2 Formation for 9v9 Soccer

With this formation, the defensive and midfield lines are joined by one player each, mimicking the very common 4-2-2 formation seen in 11v11 games. 

It overloads no one line in the field due to its neutral formation.

This is ideal for teams and coaches who don’t want to overcomplicate matters and know their best players and systems. 

It can be a good formation for the teams who can combine well with their strikers and lead from the front.

Defending midfielders will provide dynamism during attack and defense for offensive teams with a great defensive midfielder

Furthermore, the two players in each line allow for playing a passing game without players covering much ground. This is advantageous for teams lacking dribblers or pacey players.

3-3-2 Formation – Strengths

  • The wide formation provides players with great balance and gives them space to use, especially when attacking.
  • A player’s position allows him to have multiple passing options in every direction, keeping possession of the ball.
  • Two strikers, in addition to the three attacking players, make it an offensive formation.
  • This formation is flexible, allowing it to switch to a 3-4-1 when needed.

3-3-2 Formation – Weaknesses

  • Too many wingers positioned too wide can isolate the striker.
  • There is too much space on the pitch for opponents to take advantage of when wingers fail to return and help midfielders with their defensive duties.
  • Two midfielders are responsible for a tremendous amount of responsibility in the midfield, so they must play their positions perfectly.
  • Many times, the defenders do not participate in the attack.

4-3-1 Soccer Formation

In top-tier soccer, a back four is common, as many teams play the 4-3-1 formation.

 4-3-1 Formation for 9v9 Soccer
4-3-1 Formation for 9v9 Soccer

As the opposing team’s center-backs hold the backline, the full-backs should alternate between attacking and defending as the game progresses. 

This structure allows for a slightly different role for the central midfielder than the 3-3-2.

Their narrow midfield players and the lone forward can now focus more on finding passing lanes due to the addition of two center-backs. 

Defense is still the CM‘s responsibility; however, he usually plays higher in the pitch.

A lone-forward formation has the advantage of combining pace and width. 

Since full-backs cover wide midfielders, they are more likely to go forward when in transition. Meanwhile, they don’t have to worry about the opponent exploiting their wide defensive zones. 

4-3-1 Formation – Strengths

  • It is possible to cover the entire field with players.
  • Practicing this formation can provide players with the confidence to play in 11v11 lineups with two strikers.
  • In situations where players must protect each other, the players are positioned close to each other.

4-3-1 Formation – Weaknesses

  • Due to the well-balanced and rigidly structured formation, players do not have much room to move freely.
  • Any player can move away from his position, which will endanger the formation’s balance.
  • By moving upfront to support the attacking players, midfielders can create gaps that their opponents can exploit.
  • To maximize the use of the field in a wide formation, players cannot leave their positions, so they must be creative players.

3-1-3-1 Soccer Formation

This 3-1-3-1 comprises a back-three with a defensive midfielder positioned above them in a variation of the 4-3-2-1.

3-1-3-1 Formation for 9v9 Soccer
3-1-3-1 Formation for 9v9 Soccer

The holding midfielder covers the backline from midfield, meaning the midfield three can make more attacking decisions than a 4-3-1. 

As a result, the midfielder can advance during an attack knowing a defender is protecting the backline.

In addition, a three-person defense gives the opposition room to attack in width, just as with the 3-3-2. 

However, a defensive midfielder who is vocal and commands the wingers to track back will help eliminate the attacking threats. 

It provides a coach with more ability to use attacking talent than a 4-3-1 formation, especially when a holding player is comfortable on the ball and willing to interrupt opposition play.

3-1-3-1 Formation – Strengths

  • Provides stability to an offense while posing a threat to a defense.
  • Opponents have a limited amount of space available for use.
  • Wingers do not have to carry as much weight because of support from center midfielders.

3-1-3-1 Formation – Weaknesses

  • As a result of the absence of wingers and midfielders, strikers may feel isolated from the rest of the team.
  • It takes a great deal of endurance for players to conquer the space and push forward.
  • In this formation, the players can be too defensive if they don’t consciously press forward.

2-4-2 Soccer Formation

This formation is ideally suited to teams that aim to dominate possession.

With four players in midfield, teams can retain control and attack higher on the pitch. 

2-4-2 Soccer Formation for 9v9 game
2-4-2 Soccer Formation for 9v9 game

Midfielders must be patient and comfortable with the ball to play this formation. These players in the middle of the park play one-touch. 

The midfielders attempt to draw the opposition out of position to create an upfront chance for the two forwards.

However, the two wide midfielders should not neglect the defensive line when the opponent has the ball. 

Since the goalie does not have two center backs in front of him, the wise men may need to track back defensively to deal with wide threats.

2-4-2 Formation – Strengths

  • Teaches players to play in pairs with their teammates.
  • The four midfielders in the middle provide stability.
  • Possession-based games are perfect for this formation.

2-4-2 Formation – Weaknesses

  • Defenders can be exposed to 1-on-1 matchups against offensive formations with only two defenders.
  • Midfielders must understand positioning and tactics.
  • With no full-backs on the field, wingers can easily exploit the space.

2-3-3 Soccer Formation

For teams with attackers and an attacking mindset, this type of approach makes sense.

2-3-3 Soccer Formation for 9v9 game
2-3-3 Soccer Formation for 9v9 game

It isn’t my favorite aspect of the game since I’d argue defense is just as crucial. However, it is an option when the defense is weak, or the opponent is weak, where a full-throttle attack will be advantageous. 

This formation features three defenders between midfield and attack. By pressing higher up the pitch, the team maintains possession and can defend effectively. 

As much as possible, one must limit the opponent’s defensive space so that they cannot run when in possession.

The attacking half is occupied by 6/9 players, allowing the formation to launch barrages of attacks. 

The central midfielder may have to cover a lot of ground while defending and attacking due to the forwards and midfielders being in advanced positions.

Therefore, it is crucial to have a player who has good intercepting skills and lots of stamina.

2-3-3 Formation – Strengths

  • It provides excellent stability and balance to the team because of its flexibility.
  • The players can utilize space by using a wider playing structure.
  • With four players in the defensive line when side midfielders drop back, there is defensive stability.

2-3-3 Formation – Weaknesses

  • A lack of defensive line help from side midfielders creates too much space for opponents. 
  • In teams that play mainly with the ball possession, a center midfielder who is defensively-minded would be unsuitable.

3-4-1 Soccer Formation

Many of the above 9v9 formations would be effective; however, I tend to use the 3-4-1 formation most of the time when I’m not sure what combination will work best for my team or when I have both attacking and defensive players in the team. 

In my opinion, this formation provides a balanced team, both in offense and defense.

3-4-1 Soccer Formation for 9v9 game
3-4-1 Soccer Formation for 9v9 game

In addition, the two midfielders can cover a three-person defense under excessive pressure.

You may also be able to cover wide threats if you have dynamic wide players. In addition, the two wide men have a bit of room for attacking creativity due to the defensive coverage of the two central midfielders.

3-4-1 Formation – Strengths

  • Provides stability to an offense while posing a threat to a defense.
  • As a result, opponents have a limited amount of space available for use.
  • Wingers do not have to carry as much weight because of support from center midfielders.

3-4-1 Formation – Weaknesses

  • Teams can leave gaps between the lines if they are not careful.
  • Having only 3 players in defense can leave space between defenders.
  • The striker may become isolated.

If you’re also interested in 7v7 formations, check out my article – 7v7 Soccer Formations: The Complete Guide – after finishing here.


If you are choosing a formation for a team, don’t commit to just one formation. Instead, explore a variety of different options and see what works best.

Depending on the situation, you can even try 2 or 3 different formations simultaneously in the same game until you find the one that works for you and fits your style.

Having understood the formations, I recommend you have a closer look at the player’s positions on the field in either of my previous articles:


Sources Used For Article:

Soccercoachweekly.net and mastermindsite.com

Ben

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Sign up to the yoursoccerhome.com newsletter here or check out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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