Teaching A Flexible 4-2-3-1 Formation

Examples of 4-2-3-1 Formation Specific Passing Patterns that teach flexibility of movement and positioning.  My new book of 4-2-3-1 Formation Specific Passing Patterns & Shadow Play Exercises will be out by Jan 1st 2016! Look for it on Amazon.com with all my other books and be sure to check out my website www.soccersmarttraining.com




4-2-3-1 Center Midfield Players

 In order to create and use meaningful passing patterns and shadow play exercises that train the “4-2-3-1 System”, it is imperative to have a very good understanding of how the formation can be utilized. Lets start by looking at the heart of the formation, the three center midfield players (#6,8,10). These three players can be deployed in a variety different ways, lending to the flexibility and freedom of movement that is offered by the formation. The idea is to allow different players the ability to occupy different spaces, while still maintaining good team balance. If the same players always operate in the same spaces, the opposition will have limited problems to solve defensively, the game will become predictable, simple to read, easy to defend and lack overall movement and sophistication. The first part of my book (out Jan 1st, 2016) covers different passing patterns intended to stimulate positioning & movement ideas of the center midfielders within the framework of a 4-2-3-1 formation. However, keep in mind the organization and positioning of the midfield and team will be in a state of constant change and continuous movement during the flow of a game. Please do not take this book as a strict set of rigid plays and movements to be trained like an “American Football” playbook, rather it is intended to increase player awareness and raise the “Soccer IQ” of the players and coaches by providing various options for player movements, rotations and over all team organization & flexibility. I personally view the modern game of soccer as a free flowing game that demands many interchanges of player positions that are carried out within a flexible system called a formation. The modern player of the future will step on the field and be required be a thinker, the days of just being a worker in modern soccer will eventually come to an end to certain degree. Teams in the modern game may play 2-6 players at the back, 2-6 players at midfield ,0-5 players up front and who knows how many will float between the lines, it will all depend on the situation (phase of the game). Whatever opportunities arise within the game, the players will have to be intelligent enough and have the freedom within the system to find ways to exploit those opportunities. One of the main keys to making modern soccer tactics work will be the development of intelligent and technically skilled players. The best example I can offer that exhibits flexibility of movement and player freedom within a framework would be the work done by Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. Listen to his players describe their style of play and you hear things like “its not the formation” or “sometimes we play with two 6’s, one 6, two 10’s, two 8’s or even with just two players in the back” or “we don’t really talk about the formations that much, its more about adapting & problem solving and carrying out concepts”. My point is Pep Guardiola’s players understand where the spaces are that need to be exploited and this can be done by any number of players within the framework he has created. Before getting into the books training methods, I would reiterate one more time that the passing patterns and shadow play exercises presented in this book are meant to stimulate different movement patterns & organizational ideas within the broad framework of the 4-2-3-1 formation. This formation can easily be played in a more rigid traditional fashion but in my opinion that ultimately is less effective and not good for player development.