7v7 Soccer Strategy

By Vince •  Updated: 05/16/22 •  11 min read

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7v7 soccer is a great small-sided soccer game that improves youth development while getting kids to play in formations that loosely resemble 11v11 formations.

Keep reading to learn the best way possible to win a 7v7 game with different formations and more!

What Does 7v7 Soccer Mean?

Before diving into the best soccer formation for a 7v7 game, let us first discover what 7v7 soccer means.

Traditionally, soccer is played with 11 players per team. In youth soccer, however, young players often play in smaller teams to try different strategies and techniques and get used to different formations prior to making them suited to a full soccer team.

Junior soccer also uses smaller teams to ensure each player gets more of the ball and can improve faster.

7v7 involves 7 players in each team and is one of the best ways to test out soccer formations. Since the formations need to be matched to the players’ numbers, using a common formation is unnecessary. Instead, specific formations for the game’s 7-player version are required.

Best 7v7 Soccer Formations

Knowing the best formation can be a very important thing in wide areas, especially when developing the play style and ball control of soccer players. Different formations help strengthen the team’s strategy and coordination as a whole, from soccer drills to actual games.

Here are the best 7v7 soccer formations you can try out:


This image was used with Tactics Manager

2-3-1 formation is the most commonly used in soccer side games. It consists of one striker, three midfielders, and two defenders.
This formation provides stability at the back while two defenders are supporting the midfield. The midfielders also support the striker upfront. As for the wide players in the midfield, they can drop back for effective defense support.


Aside from being an incredibly balanced formation, it also covers wide areas on the fields. As a result, players can explore a lot of rooms. It is also very straightforward, so youth players can quickly understand the positioning.

In this 7v7 formation, reliable strikers and defenders are necessary. So much responsibility is present in the midfield since defense and offense fall to the three midfielders who protect the backline while the lone striker supports them.

Formation Strengths:

Formation Weaknesses:


As the name suggests, this 7v7 game formation consists of two strikers, two midfielders, and two defenders. It is perfectly balanced between attack, midfield, and defense. Aside from no area lacking, everything also has equal strength, allowing the team to be capable in all field areas.

Two attackers work for a solid attack, pushing forward and scoring if there is a chance. Two midfielders are responsible for controlling the field by pushing forward or backward, depending on the side that needs support. Two defenders act as a line of defense.

With the right players, the 2-2-2 formation is highly effective since the team has the opportunity to control the entire field with no lacking area. On the other hand, the opposing team can sneak in through the field sides because the defensive team may end up spreading too narrow. The youth players need to be flexible to cover those gaps.

Formation Strengths:

Formation Weaknesses:


The 2-1-2-1 is a variation of 2-3-1 but offers more attacking capability and a stable defensive configuration. Since it is easy to understand, it is an excellent choice for younger players who want something straightforward to start with.

For this formation, two good defenders work in tandem for a solid defense line. One striker is responsible for leading the attacks and scoring the goals. Two attacking midfielders are assigned to control the center field and support the striker. That way, the team can push forward more easily. One defending midfielder will do the defense support and help push the ball forward onto the attacking players.

This formation divides the team into three people focusing on the attack, three players on the defense, and three people who can go where needed. It offers an excellent balance focusing on leaving a gap, particularly for the midfielders assigned to specific focus areas.

Formation Strengths:

Formation Weaknesses:


The 1-1-3-1 formation consists of one defensive midfielder, one attacker, three more defensive midfielders, and one defender. It focuses more heavily on defense. The team adopting this offensive strategy is dependent on both the defensive midfielder and the defender. These two positions require high-quality players and skillful tracking back.

This formation is incredibly aggressive; if done right, the opposing team will find it hard to fend off the attack.

One extremely skillful defender is assigned for the line of defense. One striker is responsible for an effective and powerful attack and is supported by the midfielders. Three midfielders ensure strong control and coverage of the field, with one midfielder can be versatile when necessary. One defending midfielder does the support to the lone defender and is also responsible for pushing the ball forward to the midfield.

The attacks are more successful since three midfielders are assigned to support the striker. On the other hand, the midfielders have to quickly return and support the defense, especially since one defender does the defense with one support.

As a result, players have to be very skilled, while the midfielders have to determine the area they are needed and push forward.

Formation Strengths:

Formation Weaknesses:

Defensive Strategy in 7v7 Soccer

Here are the popular defensive strategies in 7v7 soccer. This is the shape your team is in when you don’t have the ball.


The 3-1-2 formation primarily focuses on defense without neglecting the attacks. This formation relies on a good attack and a solid defense while keeping the field center under control with the help of a single midfielder.

For this formation, three defenders are assigned to ensure a solid line of defense. As for the single midfielder, the responsibility is to control the field center and push the team back or forward. Two attackers work to push the team forward and score the goals.

The formation’s danger is to have the opposing team overrun the midfielder. However, this formation teaches young players to be flexible, where the attackers help block advance and the defenders push forward if done right.

The 3-1-2 formation also teaches the team to focus on the areas assigned to each player and make decisions on the go, like to be in the areas they are most needed.

Formation Strengths:

Formation Weaknesses:


Also known as the Christmas Tree formation, the 3-2-1 formation is another famous formation for defense purposes. It acts like an arrow, where players will have a good attack, a strong midfield control, and of course, a solid defense.

Three defenders are assigned to provide a strong and solid defense that the opposing team cannot easily break. Two midfielders are responsible for delivering stable field control while helping the team push forward or back. One striker is supported by the midfielders to lead the attacks and score the goals.

On the other hand, the center defender must quickly switch to the midfield, and the midfielders must be effective at supporting the striker for this formation to succeed.

Formation Strengths:

Formation Weaknesses:


The 3-1-1-1 is a Christmas Tree formation variation that requires players to be a little more specialized and more skilled to pull off the formation effectively.

Three defenders are necessary to ensure a strong and very solid line of defense. One striker leads the attack and scores the goal whole supported by the attacking midfielder. One defending midfielder is responsible for supporting the defense and passing the ball forward towards the field front. One attacking midfielder does the support to the striker while attacking and control of the field.

One of the best things about this defense strategy is that the opposing team will find it difficult to break through the three defending players and one defending midfielder. This formation focuses on delivering a super solid defense.

On the other hand, the flanking defenders must advance to midfield, incite the attacks, and push the ball forward to make the formation effective.

Formation Strengths:

Formation Weaknesses:

Man Marking

In youth soccer, teams can also look to play a more man-marking approach. This is where a player is responsible for an individual opponent. While this isn’t really practiced much in senior soccer due to player rotations and overall skill level, there’s a lot to be said for planning a man-to-man approach at the youth level to encourage players to work on the defensive aspects of their game.



Final Thoughts

Formations help switch the playing style of younger players from defensive or offensive positions to aggressive approaches, depending on the formation. Different 7v7 soccer formations also involve player development and help determine the right players for specific positions, whether they are suited as defensive players, wide midfielders, or attacking players.


I'm a qualified soccer coach, who has been involved with the sport for most of my life. I started Woodland Soccer to talk about the game I love.