7 Great Soccer Formations For 7v7

Traditional soccer is played with teams of 11. However, in youth soccer, it is very common to play soccer in smaller teams, to test out different techniques and strategies, and get used to formations before making them bigger and suited to a full team.

7v7 is when both teams have 7 players each, and it’s one of the best for testing out soccer formations.

Of course, the formations have to be matched to the number of players, so you can’t use normal formations with a 7v7, and instead, need specific formations for the 7 player version of the game. 

Formations can be very important when it comes to developing the play style of soccer players, and they can strengthen the team’s coordination and strategy as a whole.

Plus, it helps switch up the playing style from defensive to aggressive, depending on what the formation is set out as.

But what formations can you use in a 7v7? There are plenty of different combinations and formations you can try out, but not all of them will be as effective.

If you want to jump right into the best possible formations, we’ll tell you all about the top 7 that are most commonly used. Let’s get started!

7 Great Soccer Formations For 7v7

1. The 2-3-1 Formation

The 2-3-1 formation is by far the most commonly used and popular formation in 7v7 soccer, and for good reason. It’s a highly effective line-up, and it works well for every player.

This is how it works:

  • 2: Two defenders at the back, for a solid defense 
  • 3: Three midfielders. They can both support the attack, and retreat to help with the defense. 
  • 1: One striker at the front, leading the attacks and scoring the goals.

It’s a pretty simple formation, in a way that is instinctive and easy for young players to follow.

The 2-3-1 also offers a great balance within the field, with all of the important areas appropriately covered, as well as allowing the midfielders to do a versatile job. 

If you’re not sure if this is the formation for your players, here are some pros and cons: 

Pros:

  • Very balanced formation for good coverage all across the field
  • Simple layout, easy to understand by younger players
  • Very effective formation for straightforward gameplay with a high rate of success 

Cons:

  • The midfielders have to do a lot of the work, as they need to support both defense and attack 
  • Too many midfielders in a 7v7 can crowd the center of the field, forgetting about the gaps that open up at the defense 

2. The 2-1-2-1 Formation

The 2-1-2-1 formation is a variation on the 2-3-1, making it very similar, but with a few slight changes. It’s an almost as easy formation to understand, making it great for younger players who need something simple to grasp. 

This is how it works:

  • 2: Two defenders, for a solid line of defense 
  • 1: One defending midfielder, to support the defense while helping push the ball forward onto the attacking group
  • 2: Two attacking midfielders, to control the center of the field, and to support the striker so that the team is pushing forward a lot easier
  • 1: One striker to lead the attacks and score the goals

In this way, the team is divided into three people focused on defense, and three people focused on the attack while having three midfielders that can be versatile and go where needed.

It’s a great balance that focuses on not leaving any gaps, as the midfielders are assigned their specific areas of focus. 

If you’re not sure if this is the formation for your players, here are some pros and cons: 

Pros:

  • Dividing the team between defense and attack, regardless of their position, helps make the gameplay a lot clearer
  • A solid defense with a strong attack, the midfielders act as more focused support, all while controlling the center of the field
  • The attack has a lot more probabilities of success, as the striker is a lot more supported 

Cons:

  • The midfielders can get caught up in their focus areas and forget to act as midfielders 
  • If the defending midfielders don’t also push forward, and the attacking midfielders don’t also block the opposing advance, too much space can appear in the center of the field, having the team lose control 

3. The 3-1-2 Formation

The 3-1-2 formation is one that focuses more heavily on defense, but it does as such without losing out on the attack.

It relies on having a solid defense and a good attack, all while keeping the center of the field under control thanks to a single midfielder that will have to do a lot of work. 

This is how it works:

  • 3: Three defenders for an incredibly solid defense 
  • 1: One midfielder to push the team forward or back, controlling the center of the field
  • 2: Two attackers to push the team onwards and score the goals 

The danger of this formation is having the midfielder be overrun by opposing players. However, if done right, this formation can teach your players to be flexible, with defenders pushing forward, and attackers helping block advance.

It can also teach players to be focused on their designated area, all while making decisions on the go to be where they are most needed when the team requires it. 

If you’re not sure if this is the formation for your players, here are some pros and cons: 

Pros:

  • Very solid defense, the opposing team will have very little chance to score
  • Helps develop better teamwork, coordination, and spatial awareness
  • The strikers have a good attack, while also helping the midfielder with defense when needed, teaching versatility 

Cons:

  • The midfielder has to do a lot of the work and will become very tired. A player with very high stamina is needed for this
  • If the defenders and strikers do not lean into the flexibility of their positioning, the center of the field can be overrun, and the team will lose control of the ball very easily 

4. The 3-2-1 Formation

The 3-2-1 formation is also quite a popular formation to use, and it is most often referred to as the Christmas Tree formation, due to the way it positions the players.

This formation acts as a sort of arrow, providing the team with a solid defense, a strong midfield control, and a good attack. 

This is how it works:

  • 3: Three defenders, for a solid and strong defense that will be hard to break past
  • 2: Two midfielders for stable control of the field, to help the team push back or forward when needed, as a block 
  • 1: One striker to lead the attacks, supported by the midfielders, and to score the goals 

However, for this formation to be fully effective, the central defender has to be able to quickly switch to midfield when needed, and the midfielders have to be a very good support to the striker, to ensure the attacks are possible. 

If you’re not sure if this is the formation for your players, here are some pros and cons: 

Pros:

  • Incredibly strong defense, very hard for the opposing team to break through and score
  • With a strong control of the midfield, the team can ensure full control of the ball and the game
  • This formation works more as a whole, so no individual player has to be specifically skilled in any way 

Cons:

  • The central defender is expected to act as a midfielder in many instances, which can end up confusing the formation 
  • The midfielders have to control the field while offering as much support to the striker as possible, or else the attack will be very weak 

5. The 3-1-1-1 Formation

The 3-1-1-1 formation is a variation on the Christmas Tree formation, but it requires players to be a little more skilled, and a little more specialized, in order to pull it off effectively. 

This is how it works:

  • 3: Three defenders for a very solid and strong line of defense
  • 1: One defending midfielder to support the defense, and to pass the ball onwards towards the front of the field
  • 1: One attacking midfielder to support the striker in the attacks, and to control the field 
  • 1: One striker to lead the attack, supported by the attacking midfielder, and to score the goals 

The best thing about this formation is that it will be incredibly hard for the opposing team to get past the defending midfielder and three defending players. The defense is super solid.

However, the flanking defenders should be able to advance to midfield, push the ball forward, and incite the attacks, in order for the formation to be effective. 

If you’re not sure if this is the formation for your players, here are some pros and cons: 

Pros:

  • A solid defense that will be very hard to breakthrough 
  • If the flanking defenders step up, the midfielders can support the striker, especially with having a specialized attacking midfielder
  • This formation allows the skills of each player to shine, with each playing an important role 

Cons:

  • If the attacking midfielder and the striker do not coordinate, the attacks will lack efficiency 
  • The flanking defenders are required to push forward towards the midfield, or else the team will be too caught up in its home side, with the ball never pushing forward 

6. The 2-2-2 Formation

The 2-2-2 formation is based on the concept of an ideal balance within the team. No area will be lacking, and everything will have equal strength so that the team is capable in all areas of the field.

However, it is not a very commonly used formation and is one of the least popular amongst these top seven. 

This is how it works:

  • 2: Two defenders working in tandem as a line of defense
  • 2: Two midfielders to control the field, pushing back or forward as needed, depending on which side needs support
  • 2: Two attackers for a solid attack with great chances of success, pushing forward and scoring when possible 

With the right players, skilled in their positions, this formation can be highly effective, as the team can control the entire field without lacking in any one area.

However, having two, two, and two, can cause the team to be spread too narrow, with the opposing team sneaking in through the sides. So the players have to be flexible when needed to cover those gaps. 

If you’re not sure if this is the formation for your players, here are some pros and cons: 

Pros:

  • Each player has a clear position and role, making it very easy to understand and great for younger players
  • A perfectly balanced team, with a strong defense, midfield, and attack
  • With two strikers working in tandem, it’s a lot easier to create an opportunity to score 

Cons:

  • The flanks might be left unprotected if the team isn’t flexible and covers the gaps when necessary
  • The midfielders have to be very skilled at pushing out wide so that they do not lose possession of the ball or lose control of the field 

7. The 1-1-3-1 Formation

The 1-1-3-1 formation is also one of the least popular within this list, as it requires good players in order for it to be pulled off and be effective.

But if done right, this formation is incredibly aggressive, with an attack that is very hard to fend off by the opposing team. 

This is how it works:

  • 1: One defender that needs to be extremely skilled, for the line of defense 
  • 1: One defending midfielder to support the lone defender, and to push the ball forward to midfield as soon as possible
  • 3: Three midfielders for strong coverage and control of the field, and with the chance to be versatile when needed 
  • 1: One striker, supported by the midfielders for a very strong and effective attack 

With all three midfielders focused on supporting a skilled striker, the attacks have a very high chance of being successful.

However, the midfielders need to be able to quickly go back and support the defense when needed, as the defense falls onto a single defender with one support. 

The players, therefore, have to be very skilled, and the midfielders need to know exactly where they are needed while pushing forward as often as they can. 

If you’re not sure if this is the formation for your players, here are some pros and cons: 

Pros:

  • A very strong attack that the opposing team will be unable to block 
  • If the midfielders are skilled, the formation can be quite dynamic, with the focus of pushing forward and staying on the offense
  • If the defender and defending midfielder are highly skilled, the other three midfielders can fully focus on supporting the attack 

Cons:

  • A very capable defender is required, with an equally skilled defending midfielder. Or else the team will be left vulnerable 
  • The three midfielders have to be highly skilled to fully support the offense while retaining control of the field and trusting the defense 

How to Choose Your Formation:

Now that we’ve covered the top seven best formations for a 7v7 soccer game, you might be wondering which one to choose for your team.

There are, of course, many more formations you can choose from, but it’s good to be well acquainted with the most popular ones, as that will also show your players what to expect when other teams are using them. 

Ideally, a team should go through many different formations and gameplay styles, to try out different techniques and positions, so that the players become better-rounded in their skills and capabilities.

But when it comes to playing a serious game, you will want your team to use the best possible formation, to ensure the best chances of success. 

But which formation is the best? The answer is none. Or rather, there is no single formation that can be considered better than the rest, because it depends.

Different formations work for different situations, and different formations are better or worse suited to certain types of teams and players.

At the end of the day, you need to make sure that the formation you layout for your team works for your specific players, and the skills they have to offer. 

With that said...How do you choose your formation?

As a coach, you might have your own style and preferences when it comes to playing, but it’s important to consider the right formation for your team and players.

In fact, this is why it’s good to try many different formations during training sessions so that your players can offer you feedback and state what works best for them.

And from that information, you can design a suitable strategy, one that pairs with your soccer philosophy, your expertise, and the team’s strengths. 

There are many different factors to take into consideration when choosing the right formation for your team. Here are some of the main factors you should be taking into account:

  • The players you have:

Not all formations work for all players. Some formations are heavier on defense or heavier on the attack. And some formations require certain players to be especially skilled or capable.

So what kind of players do you have, what are their strengths and skills? Once you know what you have to play with, you can place them into a formation that plays to those strengths for a more effective result. 

  • A good balance:

Some formations can be risky in that they focus all of their fire-power at one end of the field, but it’s important to always have a good balance, or at the very least, the possibility and flexibility to have that balance.

The entire field needs to be covered. Defenders need support, and strikers need help with the attack. Make sure you have everything thought out! 

  • The opposing team:

Who are you playing against? If you know how the opposing team plays, it might be worth using a formation that counter-attacks that style of gameplay, so that your team is able to break through their strategy with more ease, allowing them a better chance at success. 

  • Giving everyone the chance to shine:

In professional soccer, victories are usually down to a team effort, with a few star players standing out thanks to their notable skills and positions.

However, in youth soccer where a 7v7 would take place, the players are young and just getting started, hoping to launch their careers.

This is why it’s super important to give all of the players equal opportunities to stand out and show off their skills, and not to leave any in the shadows. 

  • What your players know best:

Regardless of the formation, you end up choosing for your team, it should be one that the players know well.

You might think that a specific form is ideal for the occasion, but if your players haven’t really practiced it much then it will most likely be a bit chaotic, and the players will feel lost and unprepared, hindering their performance.

If in doubt, use a formation that your players feel confident in, as they will be able to work much better. 

In Conclusion

There are many different formations that can be used in a 7v7 soccer game, but using one of the seven listed above will give your team a good chance of success, as they are some of the most popular and commonly used.

But regardless of the formation that the team ends up using, it is important that it plays to the strengths of the players so that they can bring their best to the field and feel confident in their performance.