4v4 soccer formation [Complete Guide for Soccer Coaches 2024]

In the US, the first time there is any structure and roles for the grassroots soccer players is when we play 4v4 soccer formation. It is in the U8 and younger age groups. So, before we jump into it, please remember that this is not about revealing secrets on how to win every game because of the tactical soccer genius that deserves folk songs. The score really doesn’t matter and it’s all about falling in love with the game and learning something new. This is the first time that players hear about a position, so just ease them in and ask them to think about it. The next transition is to 7v7 and they will have two years in that format. We are using these formations just as platforms for soccer development over the long term.

What is the best 4v4 soccer formation?

There is no one best formation for winning the game. However, mentioning positions is important for the players to start thinking about them. If you coach the team for a year, we recommend trying both basic formations and also rotating all the players through them. It will give you an idea of what their personalities are and how they might develop over time, especially as you move to develop the roles in a 7v7 structure. The two formations are 1-2-1, in somewhat of a diamond shape, which will be used throughout the soccer careers of these very young players; and 2-2, i.e. the square.

1-2-1 (Diamond)

4v4 Formation by Rondo Coach Formation Tool
Created by Rondo Coach Formation Tool

2-2 (Square)

4v4 soccer formation 2-2 by Rondo Coach Formation Tool
Created by Rondo Coach Formation Tool

1-2-1 [Guide and Progression]

Start with this formation. Why? Because it is easier to teach. In a way, the players can have half of the field blocked. The striker can stay only in the top half, and the defender only in the bottom half. The left winger is only on the left half, and the right winger is only on the right half of the field. Those are the only instructions you need to tell them to get the ball moving.

This is the first time the players will start complaining or moving out of position. Make sure you rotate everybody in all positions. You don’t want players to feel like they will play in a position forever. However, demand that they try their best – “I don’t know how to defend” is not good even at that age. Ask guided questions about what the roles are in different positions as you keep coaching and you’ll get there before you know it.


Easy to start coaching

Great foundation work for the development of future roles, especially in 7v7


Too reliant on a single defender

The striker is the only one with true freedom of movement

2-2 [Guide and Progression]

Let’s say after 5-10 games the players understand the formation. Now, you decide to change it – what? Do not forget that if the previous formation is the first time that the players hear about formations. So, this is the first time they will experience changing it. We have changed formations on the fly when we play, but we don’t remember when we first heard about it.

The square formation is good because it teaches new things. First of all, it teaches cooperation – the two defenders have to cooperate. Secondly, it teaches the fluidity of movements. The two wingers sometimes can come to the middle and other times stay wide. Even one of the defenders can move up and act as a central mid, no issues there.


Players learn to communicate better

The two central defender formation is a great buildup for our 2-3-1 formation in 7v7


This formation is likely less effective, so players will be a bit more frustrated

Harder to coach, as there are a lot of nuances

The 4v4 soccer formation goal

4v4 Formation by Rondo Coach Formation Tool
8v8 Soccer Formation 2-4-1
9v9 soccer formation 2-3-2-1 by Rondo Coach Formation Tool
6v6 Soccer Formation 2-1-2
7v7 soccer formation 2-3-1 by Rondo Coach Formation Tool

This is the full guide on how to coach the tactics of 4v4 in youth soccer development. It might look short and it should be. The focus on tactics should be minimal at this U8 and younger age. You should focus on technical excellence in soccer development at this age. Of course, get the player to think about their roles and talk to them about it. However, keep it simple and honest, and make sure they are trying their best in every position they play.