Although you may think of indoor soccer as merely pickup recreational or pickup, it still has strategy and positioning. If you are playing in an indoor soccer league or are coaching one, you know that succeeding requires good organization and cohesion.
Especially if you are working with young children, it’s important that you brief ALL players on the team how ALL positions work. Teaching the basics of each position is extremely important, especially in indoor soccer.
The main point here is to have the team working as a unit.
There are a few quality traits that each player should know about each position. If a player is placed in that position or if they need to cover for someone, they should at least know the basics:
Here are a few traits every “defender” should know:
Here are a few traits every “attacker” should know:
Unlike outdoor soccer, indoor soccer is a much more fluid game, with players constantly rotating in and out of positions. While you might start as an attacker, there will certainly be a lot of situations where you will also need to defend, and vice versa.
Every position should know every skill—especially when you are younger. It’s important to emphasize that is just as important for a defender to know how to score as an attacker should know how to save the ball.
As a coach, try to focus on teaching tactics rather than teaching particular positions. Instead of making the team predictable through every position, let them decide their individual movements. Just make sure that it’s in line with the overall tactics.
Formations are a great way to put tactics into play. Teaching indoor soccer positioning is much easier than outdoor soccer because there are fewer players involved. Here are some popular indoor soccer formations.
Note that indoor soccer can be played with 5, 6, 7, and even 8 players. We’ve outlined formations for 5 person indoor soccer teams, but you can add as needed for your specific number.
As a final note, goalies are typically left out of formation references, which is what we have done. You’ll see 4 players mentioned, with the goalie being the fifth.
This formation needles soccer down to the most basic of responsibilities. Two players are stationed in the back on defense and two are placed up top as attackers.
While you do have multiple defensive-minded players and multiple offensive-minded players on the field at the same time, this formation succeeds most when every player can interchange to some degree.
Attackers will have to come back to help on defense at times, which will temporarily change the formation shape to something more similar to a Pyramid formation (described below). This is fine in spurts, as you look to absorb a counter attack or pressure from consistent possession by the opposing team.
Likewise, when your team is on a counter attack, you’ll want one of your defenders pushing forward to join and support. Having a defender temporarily move up into the midfield gives the attackers a drop off option. This allows your team to retain possession if the offensive stalls, while your attackers reform for another attack.
That’s why it’s important to teach the formation to ALL players and not just those in that certain position. If a defender goes up on the attack, an attacker needs to cover for them in the backline.
If you are playing against a team that is a bit stronger than yours, you might want to play more defensively. This formation has two players that generally should stay at the back. The midfielder added can also help out defensively, as well.
This formation also appoints one player as an all-time forward. They don't have to worry much about anything else other than being the striker and point target, even if it means scoring the goal with your head.
This works well if you have a true forward on your team, someone who excels at working with the back to the goal, and is good at finding space to receive through balls.
Being the only attacker means that your team will rely more on the quick counter attack for goals. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you need to tactically plan around it.
For a well-balanced formation, the diamond has an appointed striker and a permanent defender who will ensure that your team always has someone at the back.
The two midfielders are free to go into the attack or defend.
This is the formation that probably requires the best definition of specific positions in indoor soccer. More than any other formation, each player needs to have recognition of where they are at on the field as it relates to their specific position.
Your defender must be the classic Sweeper, able to defend from sideline to sideline. They must be tactically sharp, not allowing anyone to get past them. There is no other defender to cover for them.
Likewise, your forward must be able to operate independently, creating their own chances and scoring with precision.
This formation lends itself well to holding possession for long periods of time, as you should be able to control the midfield with two in that position. When executed well, your team will have long spells of possession as the midfielders work the ball around, looking for space to feed the forward.
If you already know that you will be playing against a weaker team or it’s the last few minutes in the game and you need a goal, the Y formation is a great attacking formation.
Perfect for the game that doesn't require too much defending, this formation is a great goal-scoring set-up.
Ensure your single defender takes more of a Sweeper role, and you’ll do better if he or she is more athletic. They will have to run from side to side to cover the back half of the field.
Your attackers will be able to feed off each other in this formation. Fast, speedy, quick ball strikers do very well in this formation. They can work their way around the outside edges and pass the ball into their other attacking teammate.
Indoor soccer is a lot different than outdoor soccer.
The best part about playing indoor soccer is the freedom that isn't often associated with big-field games. Indoor soccer is a fast-paced game that can change in an instant. A forward might find themselves tracking all the way back into a central defender position.
Since it is so unpredictable, being looser with restrictions for certain positions is a must. Your players all have to also be comfortable with playing anywhere at any given moment.
Although you might already have an ideal formation in mind before you meet your team for the season, you might have to get a bit flexible. The formation your team plays on the field should reflect what players you have on your team. If you have more defenders than attackers, for example, you might want to go with the Pyramid Formation.
If you have a player that doesn't track back no matter what, you might have to adjust the entire system rather than having to adjust them as a player. Depending on the age group you are coaching, you might have to work with what you have.
You might have to work with your creativity when it comes to picking out the perfect formation. You might figuratively and literally think outside of the box (formation).
Certain teams can be extremely successful playing a particular formation but fall apart at the slightest adjustment. Finding the formation that works with your team’s style and the individual players' is extremely important to making a successful team. Other than that, it's best that your players are equipped with premium cleats for soccer to make sure that their shoes won't affect their game.
If you are a coach or captain of the team, we encourage you to experiment with different tactics and different formations to help your indoor soccer team find its niche.
Certain players who play a specific position in outdoor soccer might not like that position at all in indoor soccer. Not every player should stick with their original outdoor soccer position. Playing indoor soccer requires both every player and the coach to be extremely flexible.
Players can learn to play each position through proper training and soccer drills that will serve as their foundation for whichever position they will need to play in the game.
We hope that this article has helped you as a coach or as a player find the perfect indoor soccer position on the field.