In soccer, players specialize in specific positions and roles. In professional football, it is easy to know the positions and roles of specific players. However, the same can be challenging in youth soccer.
Choosing the right youth soccer position can be challenging. In fact, specializing in a specific position and role in youth football is a highly debated topic. You’ll find parents pushing their kids to play in specific positions. Is there an important position in youth soccer?
Join me as I discuss youth soccer positions and the roles each position plays. This will give you a better understanding of youth soccer and help you enjoy the game. It can also help you make a wise choice regarding soccer positions and roles for youth.
Youth Soccer Position Roles and Responsibilities
In soccer, there are essentially four main positions. These are:
Any youth soccer player will play in any of the four positions. There are variations of the positions and roles depending on the formation the coach employs. The fullback, midfielder, and forward positions are further classified depending on the exact position and role on the pitch.
It is at the youth level when most players discover their best positions. Most experience different positions and ball sizes. A youth soccer ball size can be different from the one used by professionals depending on their age.
Let’s dig deep and discuss the various positions in youth soccer and their responsibilities.
#1 – Goalkeeper
The goalkeeper is our first position in soccer and the most important position. It’s the only position that must be filled at all times even during a red card offense when a player is sent off. It also goes by names like goalie or keeper.
The main role of a goalkeeper is to prevent the ball from getting into the goal. They are the only players allowed to use their hands within the 18-box area.
Goalkeepers stay on the goal line and most within the penalty box. However, on rare and desperate occasions, you can see them join the offense during the dying moments of the game to try and score.
Goalkeepers are fearless, vocal, athletic, and good at catching the ball. They organize their defense and defend the goal well.
#2 – Right Defender
Next, we have the right defender who plays on the right back. Right defenders defend the right back side of the field.
However, in modern soccer, right defenders play a major role in the attack. They usually get forward when the team holds the ball and back when a team loses the ball.
Right defenders need to be aggressive and fast to get backward and forward. They also need one-on-one tackling skills. Also referred to as ‘outside back’/
#3 – Left Defender
The left defender plays on the left side at the back and defends the ball from the wingers. A winger in soccer will attack either the right defender or the left defender. This is why they both need good tackling skills when they face forwards.
They need the same attributes as the right defender but must have a good left foot since they are playing on the left side. However, you’ll find most right and back defenders playing pretty well on all feet.
#4 – Right Side Center Back
The next position is the right side center back. This is a central defender but on the right side. The position is close to the right defender but more towards the center.
Right-back center backs need to be strong and powerful in the air. They deal with a lot of aerial balls and must have a good organization with the left side center back. This is the last line of defense before the ball gets to your goalkeeper.
It is an important position where players need to be very smart and decisive. If they lose a ball, offensive players are very close to the goal and can easily score.
#5– Left Side Center Back
A left-side center back is the same as a right-side center back but plays on the left side. They play close to the left defender on the wing but are more centrally.
A left-side center back works in tandem with a right-side center back to ensure the ball does not go past them. These two are referred to as center backs and play an important role in the team’s defense.
They usually block through passes and head aerial balls protecting their goalkeepers from opposition offense.
#6– Defensive Midfielder
The defensive midfielder position is between the defenders and the attacking midfielders. A defensive midfielder sits just in front of the two center-backs.
The main responsibility of a defensive midfielder is to disrupt any attack before it gets to the defenders.
As such, a defensive midfielder needs good endurance, tackling skills, and good timing.
You need to know how to nick the ball off an opponent without creating a foul. They also need to be good passers and be creative with the ball on their feet.
In most teams, a defensive midfielder is the most gifted player on the pitch. He can join the attack, support the defense and shoot from far to score.
#7– Right Midfielder/Winger
The right midfielder or winger is another versatile position on the far wide side to the right. A right midfielder provides width on the pitch. A right midfielder will always attack the right side of the midfield and provide crosses from the right wing.
A winger needs to be fast and knows how to dribble the ball. Right-wingers deal a lot with one-on-one situations.
#8– Central Midfielder
A central midfielder plays a key role in linking the defenders and the attackers. Central midfielders play just in front of the defensive midfielder and help create a link between attack and defense.
In most teams, a central midfielder is the most technically gifted player on the team. With enough space, they can dribble and provide killer passes. In a typical soccer formation, a central midfielder pays between a number 6 and number 9.
They need good endurance, good runs, and strong passes. Depending on the team formation, a central midfielder can also play as a number 6 or a number 10.
#9 – Striker/Center Forward
A center forward or striker is the number 9 in a team and takes the main responsibility of scoring goals. This is a position that requires very mobile and agile players. A striker needs to be strong and fast to exploit spaces in the defense.
A center forward should be the furthest player on the pitch in the opposition half.
#10 – Attacking Midfielder/Playmaker
The attacking midfielder position is the playmaking position in the field. It is a position that requires players that are very good with the ball on their feet.
The main role of the playmaker is to penetrate the opposition’s defense and try to provide killer passes.
Attacking midfielders play just behind a center forward. They have enough freedom to move freely and receive the ball in tight spaces. Overall, an attacking midfielder needs to be mobile and always looking to find pockets of space for the strikers.
#11 – Left Midfielder/Winger
Lastly, we have a left midfielder or winger that plays on the left side of the pitch. They are the opposite of the right-wingers attacking the defense of the opposing team on the left side.
A left-winger needs the same attributes as a right-winger. The only difference is having the left foot as the stronger foot.
What Does the U in Youth Soccer Leagues Stand For?
The U in youth soccer leagues stands for Under. Youth soccer leagues are usually classified into age groups. The U stands for under and the number in front denotes the age.
For example, u8 soccer positions simply mean under the age of 8 soccer positions. U12 soccer positions refer to kids under the age of 12 and their positions.
Youth age groups are usually classified with a 2-year increment.
U6-U8 Youth Soccer Positions
This is by far the lowest youth league in the US. Children from the age of 6 to 8 years and below play with four players per side. While age 8 can play up to 5 players, US Youth Soccer recommends 4 players per side.
U9-U10 Youth Soccer Positions
The u9 soccer positions involve 7 players per side. It is classified as the U9-U10 age group. It also means u10 soccer positions will have 7 players per side. In a game, you’ll have 6 field players and one goalkeeper.
The players will use the size four ball and the offside rule will be in effect. This is a youth league progression from the u8 age group. Here, players get to play more significant roles.
U12 Youth Soccer Positions
Lastly, we have the u11 youth soccer positions and u12 where teams can field 9 players per side. Here, you’ll have 8 field players and one goalkeeper. It is a much-improved youth league where you have a backup goalkeeper that can play in the defense.
This provides the players with a good experience and ensures you have options in case of injuries.
At this level, positions start to appear clearly with a goalkeeper, a left defender, a right defender, a central midfielder, a right and left-winger, and a striker.
What Is the Most Important Position in Youth Soccer?
The most important position in youth soccer is the striker since they score goals and get the headlines. However, all positions are important and require different skills.
What Are the 7 Positions in Soccer?
The 7 positions in soccer are goalkeeper, central defenders, right and left defenders, defensive midfielders, left and right-wingers, central midfield, and striker.
How Do You Teach Youth Soccer Positions?
You can teach youth soccer positions by asking them to place the ball in their positions. It is usually challenging. You usually start with a calm demonstration and give the kids plenty of room to focus.
What Are the 4 Main Positions in Soccer?
The main four positions in soccer are the goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, and attacker.
Well, that wraps it from me! Youth soccer positions and their roles can be challenging but important. Players need to learn and understand the various positions and their roles from a young age.
This is the only way to understand their strengths and know where they fit most as they grow.
It is fascinating watching kids learn and grow to play soccer. Most never end up with the position they started. As they develop, they naturally gravitate towards offense or defense.