Soccer Formations: 4-2-3-1

4-2-3-1, soccer formations, soccer tactics, formation based soccer training, soccer training tips

The 4-2-3-1 will flex that early muscle you want. Want the middle of the park? Line up like this and you're well on your way to getting it. Strong spine and well rounded supporting cast can make this formation tougher to break down then the Berlin wall, too soon?

This set allows you to establish an early rhythm to the game and feel out your opponents without giving too much away. Compare this to professional sides that line up this way and understand why it works for them. Know your role and shut your mouth! okay don't shut your mouth but no your role on the pitch. Along with roles and responsibilities of each player in this formation you will also see and explore other ways you can play this set up. What are you still looking at me for? Look below for yourself.

What are the Benefits of This Formation?

The 4-2-3-1 gives a team defensive stability in the middle as well as a compact unit with the ability to attack in wide areas. You might be thinking, "but there's only one striker how in the world is a team ever gonna score". Paitence young grass hopper, don't let this set fool you, although it may come off as defensive to the untrained eye, this formation can provide some knockout power going forward.

So Where Do The Goals Come From You Ask?

Like I said, although it may seem like a defensive formation when going forward this formaton (if everybody is doing their job) turns into a 4-3-3.

If hitting a team on the counter the wide players fly up the field and the center mid also joins the attack giving this seemingly defensive formation a transformation a plastic surgeon would be proud of.

Defenders Positioning

The Defensive line can play:

-Flat back 4 (keeping the back four in a direct straight line)

-Flat back 3, with a Sweeper in behind protecting in behind the last line of defense

Defenders Responsibilities

As a unit the back four should:

-Should operate as one while staying discipline in their tackling and marking

-Have the ability to join the attack but with first priority protecting the defensive shape of the team at all costs

Center Backs:

-Keep the outside backs and central midfielders in check not allowing them to wander to far forward or out of shape

-Able to provide cover for each other and other backs

Outside Backs:

-Protect the wide areas of the field in their own defensive end while looking to exploit wide areas in the attacking third of the pitch

-Give width to the team shape when building out of the back

Midfielders Positioning

The Midfield line can play:

-Generally the most effective way in this formation is to play both as holding players in front of the back line but other variations can be used as well

Midfielders Responsibilities

As a unit the midfielders should:

-Protect the middle of the park (ideal if you would like to take the middle of the park away from the opponents most talented players and cause traffic in the middle)

Center Midfielders:

-Be able to play through the middle through a numbers up situation

-Ability to connect with attacking players in the final third of the field to create opportunities for a well balanced attack

Outside Midfielders:

-Must play a high line and be able to create scoring opportunities and quality service

-Give width to the shape of the team for easier possession oriented play

-Support outside backs when necessary when not on the ball

Strikers Positioning

The Forward line can play:

-The striker in this formation plays the lone target man. A high work rate and clinical finishing is asked of this player

-When the time is right combining with attacking players in wide areas is a theme they much be able to pick out time and again

Strikers Responsibilities

-Play as the post, holding the ball up waiting for team to collect themselves in higher areas of the pitch

-Ability to pressure the back line

-A very important part of the teams rhythm if the player can hold the ball effectively in the 4-2-3-1

Like any formation the philosophy behind it is what's most important. If you tell your players that defending is thier primary responsibility and that attacking is secondary you need a formation to reflect those values. The 4-2-3-1 doesn't have to be the formation you choose in all circumstances, but it's about matching up talent with a formation that is going to help that talent flourish.

Now you know everything there is to know about the formation. It can be as simple or complex as you want it to be but don't be fooled by it's percieved defensive nature. The 4-2-3-1 packs a punch that only few teams know how to throw, now it's on the coach to bring out the best in their players.


Have A Great Story or Tip About This Formation?

Do you have a great story or tip about this formation?
Share it!

Enter Your Title

Tell Us Your Story or Tip![ ? ]

Upload 1-4 Pictures or Graphics (optional)[ ? ]

Add a Picture/Graphic Caption (optional) 

Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

Your Name

(first or full name)

Your Location

(ex. City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

Check box to agree to these submission guidelines.


(You can preview and edit on the next page)






Return From 4-2-3-1 to Soccer Formations Page

Return to Soccer-Training-Methods Homepage



Secret Pro Soccer Agents List! Get Your First Trial

soccer agent contact list, soccer agent



Soccer Fitness Like A PRO! 6 Week Training Program

soccer training program, soccer training programs, soccer training

"Thank you so much for your reply! This has helped out so much and been so nutritious. Many thanks! I would also like to inform you that you that you have just helped the future best soccer player in the world take one more step towards reaching his goal."

-Aleko, Hungary

"Thanks a lot for the information you provided. I will look to surely use some of the guidelines which you administered.


I'm currently on my preseason break and I definitely need to improve because I am planning to go for tryouts in the summer."

-Johnathan, USA