Youth Soccer Positions Explained: All Ages and Players


youth soccer positions post header image

Knowing the positions of the players on the soccer field is essential to fully appreciate and enjoy a youth soccer game.

Over the years I’ve seen many youth soccer games and they can be incredibly exciting to watch. They may not have the same level of skill as a professional soccer game, but the games can have just as much passion and enthusiasm.

I have found that an understanding of how and where the players are positioned on the field has increased my enjoyment of the game and in this article, I want to share what I’ve learned with you.

If, however, you are more interested in knowing about soccer positions at an adult professional level then click here to go to my article – Soccer Positions: A Complete and Easy to Understand Guide. This guide will tell you everything you need to know.

But for those of you wanting to understand more about youth soccer, let’s start by looking at what the positions are in youth soccer?

Youth soccer positions and numbers are:

  • 1– Goalkeeper (GK)
  • 2– Right Back (RB)
  • 3– Left Back (LB)
  • 4– Right Side Center Back (RCB)
  • 5– Left Side Center Back (LCB)
  • 6– Defensive Midfielder (DM)
  • 7– Right Midfielder/Winger (RM)
  • 8– Central Midfielder (CM)
  • 9– Striker/Center Forward (S/CF)
  • 10– Attacking Midfielder/Playmaker (AM)
  • 11– Left Midfielder/Winger (LM)

These positions used in youth soccer are similar to the positions used at all levels of the game. However, the positions of players in youth soccer do change depending on how many players are on the field at one time.

Although at an adult level, soccer teams play with 11 players on each team, in youth soccer games are often played with only 6, 7, 8, or 9 players on each side at a time.

Throughout this article, we’ll look at the player’s positions in youth soccer games that are played with 6v6, 7v7, 8v8, 9v9, and 11v11. We’ll look at the most used formations and each section also contains a clear diagram displaying these positions in visual form.

But first, let’s quickly look at how the positions on the soccer field relate to the number each player wears on their back.

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The Number on the Soccer Jersey Relates to the Position

Soccer jersey in youth soccer

As you watch soccer I’m sure you will have noticed that each player on the soccer field plays with a unique number displayed on the back of their jersey.

What you may or may not know is that these numbers shown are the numbers traditionally associated with these soccer positions.[source]Opens in a new tab.

As shown in the list of soccer positions above, each position has a specific number associated with it.

The interesting thing is that within the rules of soccer, there is actually no requirement for a player to wear any specific number at all. (Although they do have to display a unique number so the referee can easily identify them.)

Because of this, as you watch a game you may see a player playing in defense wearing a number 8 or a player playing in midfield wearing a number 32.

The reality is that the actual number displayed on a jersey does not have as much importance in modern soccer as it traditionally had.

On a sidenote, if you’re looking to purchase a new soccer jersey anytime soon I would encourage you to check out the range at Upper90 soccer. The price of the jersey’s there includes a number and name of your choice printed on the back and they offer free shipping for orders over $90. Click here to go to their websiteOpens in a new tab. and see what you think.

It’s important to know that these numbers above also relate to a game where each team is fielding 11 players. Yet, because of the nature of youth soccer, it’s often the case that there are fewer players than 11 on each team.

Youth players often don’t have the capacity to run for as long or as far as older players. And to compensate for this, the field they play on is often considerably smaller than a full-size field and the game time considerably shorter.

If you want to find out more about the measurements and dimensions a soccer field click here and go straight to an article I wrote providing all the information you’re looking for. Alternatively, check out this article comparing the size of a high school soccer field vs a professional one.

The number of players most commonly used in a youth soccer game is 6 players Vs 6 players, 7v7, 8v8, or 9v9. But in games featuring older youth players, you will still see 11v11 is still used.

Despite the limited capacity of youth players, and as an example of how skilled and exciting to watch a youth soccer game can be, check out this video below of an incredibly talented 10-year-old soccer player.

Soccer Positions Create Formations

soccer formation players

You also can’t talk about soccer positions without talking about soccer formations. This is because the position of the players on a soccer field creates what is known as a soccer formation.

In soccer, a formation is an overall picture of where the players are positioned on the field.

For example, in an 11 a side soccer game you will often hear people talk about formations such as 4-4-2, 4-3-3, or even 5-4-1. These groups of numbers relate to the position of each player on the field.

To clarify this a bit more, let me explain this a bit further…

The numbers in a formation start from defense and work their way forward through the midfield and end with the forwards.

In the example of the formation “4-4-2”, the first number 4 refers to the group of defenders, the second number 4 refers to the midfielders, and the last number, the number 2, refers to the forwards.

Each number indicates how many players are playing in that position on the field.

Again using the 4-4-2 example, this means that there would be 4 players in defense, 4 players in midfield and 2 playing offense. In a 4-3-3 formation, there would be 4 players in defense, 3 in midfield and 3 players positioned in the offense.

You may have also noticed that whenever formations are listed there is always one number less than the total amount of players on a team. The reason for this is that the goalie is never included in the number in formations.

Instead of putting a number “1” in front of every single formation, it is simply assumed that a goalie is on the field as part of the team.

This can be safely assumed because, in soccer, it is a requirement that a goalie is part of every team and present on the field at all times. As it is also the case that there is only ever one goalie on the field for a team at any one time and they always play in the position directly in front of the goal.

If you want to know more about the requirements for a soccer goalie then check out this article I wrote explaining the 8 rules that every goalie must follow. Or this article about whether or not you can pull the goalie in a soccer game.

Youth Soccer Positions: Including Diagrams and Formations

Now we’ve established what the position numbers on a player’s jersey refer to and how formations are a key part of understanding soccer positions lets look in more detail at the positions used in youth soccer.

As mentioned above, in youth soccer there are a variety of different positions used depending on how many players are on the field at any one time.

Below you will find positions, numbers, player roles and formations for games of 6v6, 7v7, 8v8, 9v9, and 11v11.

Youth soccer positions: 6v6

youth soccer position diagram 6v6
Soccer positions for 6v6 youth game
Goalie – Orange / Defenders – Red / Midfielders – Blue / Forwards – White

In a 6v6 youth soccer game, the most commonly used formation you see used is a 2-2-1 setup. (Remember that when formations are talked about the goalie isn’t included in the numbers.)

As you can see in the image above the players are positioned with two in defense, two in midfield and one in the offense.

These positions on the field allow the team to maintain a strong defense and midfield while still having a focal point for the offense.

Although in a 6v6 soccer game the size of the field is usually small, there is still a lot of space for each player to cover and having the players positioned this way allows them to effectively cover the field.

6v6 youth soccer position and numbers

The positions and numbers for the players in a 6v6 youth soccer game are:

  • 1 – Goalkeeper
  • 2 – Right side defender
  • 3 – Left side defender
  • 4 – Right-side midfielder
  • 5 – Left side midfielder
  • 6 – Striker

Youth soccer positions: 7v7

youth soccer position diagram 7v7
Soccer positions for 7v7 youth game
Goalie – Orange / Defenders – Red / Midfielders – Blue / Forwards – White

The recommendationOpens in a new tab. for the under 9 and under 10 age groups is that they play in soccer games of 7v7 players.

The most popular set up for a 7v7 soccer game is with a formation of 2-3-1.

As you can see in the image above the players are positioned with two players in defense, three in midfield and one striker.

With the players in these positions, the midfield is the strongest part of the team. This is important and the center of the field is where most of the action happens.

Having three players in midfield gives the team enough numbers to be able to drop back and support the defense when needed but also move forward and support the offense as needed.

7v7 youth soccer position and numbers

The positions and numbers for the players in a 7v7 youth soccer game are:

  • 1 – Goalkeeper
  • 2 – Right side defender
  • 3 – Left side defender
  • 4 – Central midfielder
  • 5 – Left side midfielder
  • 6 – Right side midfielder
  • 7 – Striker

Youth soccer positions: 8v8

youth soccer position diagram 8v8
Soccer positions for 8v8 youth game
Goalie – Orange / Defenders – Red / Midfielders – Blue / Forwards – White

In a youth soccer game of 8v8, one of the more familiar formations that you will see players positioned in is a 3-3-1.

This formation has 3 defensive players, 3 midfield players, and 1 striker.

In this formation, there is a strong defensive foundation for the team and a strong midfield. The numbers of players in both these areas provide enough cover for the team when the ball is in that part of the field.

Having the players based in these positions also allows them to move forward and back to support the defensive or offense as needed.

A defender or midfielder can move forward to support the team and still leave two players covering behind them or a midfielder can move back to support the defense and confidently leave two players positioned in midfield covering there if needed.

8v8 youth soccer position and numbers

The positions and numbers for the players in an 8v8 youth soccer game are:

  • 1 – Goalkeeper
  • 2 – Right side defender
  • 3 – Left side defender
  • 4 – central defender
  • 5 – Left side midfielder
  • 6 – Central midfielder
  • 7 – Right side midfielder
  • 8 – Striker

Youth soccer positions: 9v9

youth soccer position diagram for 9v9
Soccer positions for 9v9 youth game
Goalie – Orange / Defenders – Red / Midfielders – Blue / Forwards – White

The recommendationOpens in a new tab. for the under 11 and under 12 age groups is that they play soccer games of 9v9 players.

In a soccer game of 9v9, you will usually see players positioned in a formation of 3-3-2.

Three players in defense, three in midfield, and two players playing offense.

Having 9 players on the field means there are now enough players to play two players in the position of offense rather than only one player while still maintaining the strength of the defensive and midfield.

Having this extra player in an offensive position also means the team has an extra player in position to score when the opportunity comes up. And every team hopes that this extra player translates into more goals!

9v9 youth soccer position and numbers

The positions and numbers for the players in a 9v9 youth soccer game are:

  • 1 – Goalkeeper
  • 2 – Right side defender
  • 3 – Left side defender
  • 4 – Central defender
  • 5 – Left side midfielder
  • 6 – Central midfielder
  • 7 – Right side midfielder
  • 8 – Center forward
  • 9 – Striker/playmaker

Youth soccer positions: 11v11

youth soccer position diagram - 11v11
Soccer positions for 11v11 youth game
Goalie – Orange / Defenders – Red / Midfielders – Blue / Forwards – White

Once a youth soccer team gets to the stage where they are playing 11v11 the position of the players on the field becomes very similar to how the players are positioned in a pro-level soccer game.

In 11v11 soccer one of the most long-standing and most often used formations is 4-4-2.[source]Opens in a new tab.

This formation has 4 players positioned in defense, 4 in the midfield, and 2 upfront.

Having the players in these positions provides a strong line of defense and midfield. The players can quickly cover all the areas and move forward and back as needed.

It also allows for two players in the main attacking positions. Often one of these players will play slightly further back than the other. Positioned just in front of the midfield they act as a playmaker and a link between the midfield and forwards.

11v11 youth soccer position and numbers

The positions and numbers for the players in a 11v11 youth soccer game are:

  • 1– Goalkeeper
  • 2– Right back
  • 3– Left-back
  • 4– Right side Center Back
  • 5– Left side Center Back
  • 6– Defensive Midfielder
  • 7– Right Midfielder/Winger
  • 8– Central Midfielder
  • 9– Striker/Center forward
  • 10– Playmaker
  • 11– Left Midfielder/Winger

Conclusion and Recommendations

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the positions of the players in youth soccer.

If you, or someone you know, are looking to dramatically improve your soccer abilities in a short space of time, I want to quickly recommend two online soccer training programs to you.

  1. Epic Soccer TrainingOpens in a new tab.
  2. and Play Like A Pro Soccer Player CourseOpens in a new tab. on Udemy.com

Both these programs are dedicated to seeing any level of soccer players improve and become the best they can be. Check them out by clicking on the links above, or alternatively head over to my Recommended programs page and read a more in-depth review.

Or if you’re looking to find out more about different positions in soccer then check out these other 3 articles I’ve written.

  1. Click here for 17 qualities of a defensive midfielder
  2. Click here to go to the 21 qualities of a soccer defender
  3. Click here for 11 essential roles of a midfielder

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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