Why are soccer position numbers so confusing and why do we need them exactly?
"Hey Chris go play the 6 and tell Mike to play the 7, Johnny you're the 9 what are you doing so far back??" Ever heard something like this on the pitch from your own coach or the opponents coach?
Well now you can pretend like you know what the hell they're saying. Numbers have been associated with soccer positions for decades but most people (even soccer players) don't know which is which and what they mean.
The reason they exist is to help with the overall organization of the teams structure as well as making the communication of a position significantly more efficient.
Most people know the classic #9 which is the top striker, these are the Suarez, Lewandowski and Sergio Agueros of the world, but other than that what else do you know? Maybe #1 the Goalkeeper?
If you're ever hoping to play at the University or Pro level and understand tactics at a higher level you are going to need to know all 11 positions by name and number with your eyes closed.
Quick! What position is the #7 or #3? If you had to take awhile to think about it or have no clue then this page is perfect for you. After you're done test yourself by watching a game on TV and start pointing out all the different positions by number, once you've got that think about all the positions you've played and see if you can name them as well.
When people talk about having a tight tactical IQ the basics begin with knowing what your position does in the different phases of the game and knowing you all the soccer position numbers is essential.
It doesn't have to no, nowhere in the rules does it say that the number on your jersey must be the position you play or anything to that effect. It is typical though for starting players on a team have numbers between 1 and 11 or even 1 to 15.
Although it is not mandatory some teams and coaches are old school and have their starting line up or their potential starting players where the jersey number of the position they are playing where other coaches let you choose whatever number you desire.
To answer the question simply, the answer is NO, but it does happen and some players also like to keep it old school or wear the jersey number of their favourite player who used to play their position who coincidentally may have work the same jersey as their position on the pitch.
Well, believe it or not there are a few logical reasons. Firstly when showing the entire line up on a screen or tactics board it is much easier to assign a number to a position than writing out the entire name of the position.
When explaining different tactical movements, situations and adjustments it is easier to talk about a certain number moving in a direction than saying "center back goes here" or "left full back moves forward" instead you say "the 7 goes forward."
Also if a team is doing it completely by the book then the numbers on the back of each player is the number of their position so it is easier to identify a player and just by saying their number you know it is their jersey number and where they play on the pitch. Basically it gives a more uniform identification process and it is more efficient to communicate with.
The numbers don't but the positioning of them may, what the... So a number 7 (right winger) may move from winger up 10 yards to right forward but their positional number will remain the same.
Now if you move from right winger to left full back then yes you will go from being a 7 to being a 3.
So the answer is yes you can change positional numbers on the pitch but if you roughly stay in the same area from your first position but play in a more advanced role.
For example you can keep the positional number (7 in the example above) although your position has been altered.
Yes actually, I'm not going to break out to some song and dance that rhymes or can be played on the guitar but there is a way to help you remember each of the numbers and where they fit. The simple way is to break it down line by line and read it like you would a book from left to right.
For example the defensive line from left to right is 3, 5, 4, 2, I know it would be so much easier if it was in sequential order but hey what in life is good and easy?
If you're still having trouble remembering try pairing two numbers on a certain side into a memorable past event. For example my first concert ever was a band called 311. On the left side of the field the left back is 3 and the left winger is 11 so that's one I'll never forget, you can try that for yourself with other combinations of positions and numbers.
Obviously there are more jersey numbers than positional numbers so if you replace the striker for example off of the bench the tactical position of number 9 stays no matter who comes on and no matter which number they have on the back of their jersey.
Sometimes you wish they just used letters so it wouldn't be so confusing. So whether you start or come off the bench the position you go on for always remains the same.
Be ready to switch positions if the coach needs you to, and if they start using the positions numbers then you'll be glad you read this page, if you didn't read it all just pretend like you can't hear them.
Every position has a number assigned to them that is 1 through 11. No matter the name of the position (especially less common ones) whether it is stopper, sweeper or anything else the numbers 1 through 11 are still used, just slightly moved.
For example a stopper which is a defensive central midfielder will still take on the number 6 and a sweeper will either be the 4 or the 5 which is one of the center backs just dropped back slightly.