Feature: Scheming On Rec League Soccer

Been meaning to do this piece for awhile. In fact, killing two birds with one stone here as our SF club team, the Black Sox, got a refresher on the same info heading into the January’s playoffs this evening. (Update: Thankfully after a red card induced MMA-meets-soccer affair in the 1st game, we cruised to our first 2011 championship in the 2nd.)

The Evil Empire?

So often on Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night across the States and elsewhere, a bunch of players gather on the pitch. The ball’s knocked around, teams score, one team wins and you head home. Just another rec league game.

For our team the Black Sox, we’ve begun jumping up leagues. We’re now playing against former Stanford, Cal, Santa Clara college players.

First, I’d like to call “Illegal, Illegal!” being in my mid-30’s and all, but it presents an opportunity to see if our team– one that I play on and coach–can do so often what we, here at TSG, write about: prepare itself and play as one to to beat others with superior talent.

To be fair, there are many former college players on our team and a few players that played pro or semi-pro…and frankly USMNT too.

We’re not hurting for talent, only I am. Also,  I know many of you probably play rec league soccer and I’d like to get more of that discussion going here at TSG, so we start with this feature.

The primary key to rec league soccer, that is 7-by-7 or 8-by-8, is to understand that your team can’t possibly have the best shape or follow a game plan to a tee.

It’s not a job; soccer is not your profession and many times you’re coming after work and still pre-occupied with your day job, thinking about your child at home or thinking about your date afterward or Guinness afterward.

Everything you do has to be simple and halftime adjustments have to focus on one or two main things: (1) “stand your guy up on defense!” or (2) “don’t get stretched.”

Secondarily, pending on your fitness level and the size of the pitch (small by any standards obviously to a regulation 11-by-11 field), it’s necessary to take advantage of counterattack opportunities and defend them as well–which simply means defending centrally at all costs to the corners.

So with these notions, I launch into some defensive and offensive concepts for your rec league game. And welcome your thoughts across the nation on how you handle your rec league team.

Standard "stopped ball" set-up....(Note Brad Friedel just joined the league...)

Defensively, the Black Sox strategy revolves around a few “no-brainer” notions: (1) the aforementioned defend the middle of the field (2) close down on weaker ball handlers and (3) our primary attackers will not often be disciplined about all coming back.

We play an 8-v-8 game.

We obviously have a keeper and we put three defenders in front of the keep. If you’ve ever seen the amusement park ride, the “pirate ship” or the “looping starship” that’s how these three defenders behave, if as on a swivel with the fulcrum point being the center circle.

We then play a diamond of four in front of that three-man midfield with a holder, a left center midfielder, a right centerfielder and a striker.

It is vital that holder remains disciplined on defense in case of a break and come up and tackle the outlet appropriately, maybe not winning the call but shading the attack to the direction of the most resistance. That central defender also floats and covers the vacant defender position if that wide fullback goes forward.

Ball is outlet-ed to a outside fullback with poor handling skills...in this case Eric Lichaj....

So the CDM typically, like in hockey, stops the break, unless specifically called to defend a flank. I play the CDM role in our system, primarily because I lack offensive skills at this level. Ha!

On a non-counter play and true defensive set, the goal is to force the ball outside to what typically is the weaker players on the teams.

Most rec league teams put their best players up in the attack. This is a mistake as all to often it’s the outside fulbacks that both face the most on-ball pressure and–should they lose the marble–put the team in the worst possible position of having a counter with only one inside help-defender able to react.

The striker in our set pushes the ball one way, shutting down any on the ground square pass that can relieve pressure, and the rest of the team reacts accordinly as the striker closes down the switch and forces, typically, one of the weaker ball handlers to make a play or lose the ball.

The Black Sox play as aggressively as possible and are comfortable to give up the over-the-top ball.

First, we have a top goalkeeper who is comfortable reacting quickly and coming off his line and secondly, with–again–how small the field is the ability for the opponent to put in a precise and effective over the top ball is minimal. It’s worth our risk to create the turnover. Having a 6’5” centerback ruling the air doesn’t hurt us either.

And that, simply, is our defensive strategy.

On offense, there is much less organization.

Minus the centerback and the central defender, all of our players have a license to go forward, though our wide fullbacks typically recognize if their counterpart has gone forward and stay home (forming a two-back set on offense).

Much like we understand with our defense, we focus on two types of offensive flows….

First the quick counterattack. There is a realization with the quick counter that our team may be dispossessed or mismanage the possession, but that is obviously an acceptable cost given the discipline of the CDM….and obviously the reward.

Our quick counterattack, usually comes in the form of an outlet by our keeper to the half line to the striker who has checked back. Our two most technically and athletically gifted players typically inhabit the striker role, so the ball in their possession is a good thing.

Our 2nd offense, again not nuanced or at all disciplined, merely involves the concept of quick ball movement and off-the-ball movement.

It is very easy–easier than a game of 11 by 11–to pack a defense into the box and defend for an entire game. There is just no room for team to pull a Barcelona and thread passes vertically, mostly in the center of the pitch, against a defense.

Therefore beyond counterattacking we simply check aggressively to the ball or make crashing through-runs. Both types of movement or plays are not unlike offensive sets in basketball.

If you study a high-post basketball offense, you can apply to rec league soccer...

The checking to the ball it like the high post in basketball, where the receiver of the ball gains possession typically with their back to the basket. They can turn and drive or work off whatever player motion comes next, a backdoor cut (there is no offsides in our league), a “rub” from the player that just distributed the ball or an off-flank movement.

Our 2nd motion is typically used when we’re leading or the other team’s defense has been continually exploited for chances by our offense. And it’s not unlike a Flex basketball offense.

We’ve got two point guards at the top of the attack and the ball is continually–and quickly–swung back and forth until a whole is found in the opponents’ defense.

The CDM in this case usually flashes very high in this set as a defensive precaution and to draw out defenders from the center and create space on the side.

Other than those two offenses, our team is at a loss beyond what each of us individually grew up with.

As for success, our defense has proven to be highly successful, even when a team is managing to sneak in over-the-top balls to their streaking forwards.

What we’ve seen is as players tire and defensive “shading” adjusted, we can typically thwart the effectiveness of those passes over the course of the game to reduce their success. As a note, it’s almost in our favor if a team hits a few of those passes early in the match and fails to develop their possession-oriented offense.

Okay, Rec League 101, drop your wisdom nuggets below.



• Dimensions of the pitch: The dimensions of the pitch make a big difference in how to set up obviously. On a wide field, the Black Sox go 3-3-1, on a narrow pitch obviously 3-1-2-1.

On that wide pitch, the rule is the flank defenders on the backline should never be outside of their midfield counterpart.

• On the CD and the CDM: As long as these players are fit and smart, it’s possible for both of these players to be your weakest ball handlers. We never have our CD carry the ball (last night he got showy and we lost a goal). And the CDM (usually me), takes one or two touches either to move it back outside or up to one of the other mids. Something to consider if you have weaknesses in that department.


Shaun Addition

So unbeknown to Matt, I sent out these tactics to my co-ed team CGNU. We’re an athletic team who are all rediscovering our former soccer abilities. We have a lot of speed, so we try and beat our opponents down the wing.

3-3-1 – Overall

The 3-3-1

This is a natural formation that is fairly simple to comprehend and as long as we maintain positions, it’s not hard and we don’t have to rely TOO much on communication. There is a lot of cover if people do get out of position and it’s easy to sub etc…

3-3-1 – Defense
This is actually an attacking formation, but it provides a lot more cover when on defense or against the break away.

When they have the ball in their half, 8 “forces a side” and pressures them. 5 and 7 are primarily attackers but come back and help the far wings and 6 takes away the thru ball. Having  the back three a little closer together helps when someone gets beat and it’s easier to cover.

We’re fine if the ball goes way wide in our half as 2 or 4 can contain them there depending on the side. 3 QB’s it all and provides cover as the opposite side (2 or 4 takes the middle).

When our opponent attacks down the middle 3 is primary and directs 2 or 4 to help or to cover a thru runner.

3-3-1 – Offense
8’s job is to hold the ball and pass to 5 or 7 streaking or back to 6 who can bring the ball up, or make runs into the empty lanes either side of him/her.

If 7 or 5 get the ball they can pass forward to 8 or across to 6 or diagonally back to 2 or 4. 3 stays back behind their deepest player. 8 and 6 can also play next to each other when deep in their half but 6 has to be aware of coming back to help defend QUICKLY.

Deadly when utilized well

One thing that 5 and 7 have to do is look at lanes B and D as opportunities to get the ball. from here one can pass or shoot. If they have the ball deep in the opponents half in lanes A

and E someone, either 6 or even 2 and 4 need to be in the next lane in to give them an out. We actually do this on occasion and need to do it more!

2-3-3 – Overall
This is a bit more sophisticated and requires people to communicate A LOT more. Also 4, 5 and 6 have to do A LOT of running and have to be ready to switch back and forth from O to D

2-3-2 – Defense
The key to this is 4. When there is a breakaway, 2 or 3 go to the ball and challenge (by forcing the player to the sideline) while 4 needs to cover for them in the middle or if they get beat. Opposite side (2 or 3) covers any other attacker.

5 and 6 also need to come back to help and pick up any runners.

8 and 7 play harassing defense, but in a cup like way where one of them pressures the ball and the other takes away the easiest up field option.

2 -3 -2 Offense.
Key to this is 5 and 6 providing width and speed. They don’t have to send in a big cross but can pull the ball back into lanes B and D. 4 provides this support. 4 should go forward, but HAS HAS HAS to come back immediately. 4 has to run a lot AND BE VERY DISCIPLINED and must stay within lanes B, C and D. If they do go out of position and the ball is lost then we get screwed. This will make your keeper and defenders VERY VERY angry!

31 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Erik the Orange on 2011/01/07 at 7:05 AM

    Our rec league in Houston is fairly large. 9 divisions, 10 teams per division with the bottom division having 18 teams. We have promotion and relegation, and the highest division has had ex-MLS’ers, loads of pre- and post- college players, as well as semi-pro (no Jackie Moon or Monix) players. We play 11 a side with unlimited subs.

    My tidbits may or may not be applicable to 7 or 8 a side, but there are a few things that I believe are universal. 1. With exception to our premier division, no one single player is going to run through you. Therefore we employ a defend not to win the ball, but to force a mistake. 2. Better, faster players go from back to front in lineups (with exception)…if we’re short handed, the lesser skilled player goes up top. 3. Fitness will win or lose games. Most players at our level (exception of premier division) can’t go full tilt for 90 mins, but if your better players can stay on the field longer than the other teams’ better players, you’re ahead. 4. You can talk til you turn blue in the face about 4-4-2 vs. 4-5-1 vs. 3-5-1…most guys have played a 4-4-2 and most will habitually revert to that formation once the whistle blows.

    Thanks for getting this conversation started, good stuff!


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/01/07 at 7:23 AM

      Defensively it has always been put enough pressure to force the bad first touch, quick inaccurate pass, etc and clean it up after that with support from your other defensive player (never let the guy hit it to a spot and out sprint your teammate there). Offensively its a little bit of the Clint Dempsey take your shots. We mess up more “pretty goals” than we should and score more “ugly goals” than we should.

      That said, my league sounds well below your sides which seem more “semi-pro” than “rec league.”

      100% agree with the 4-4-2 comment. A 4-2-3-1 turns into a 4-5-1 in about 30 seconds and then turns into a 4-4-2 as one player pushes up because he feels he is constantly in someone elses space by the 15 minute mark.


      • Posted by Erik the Orange on 2011/01/07 at 7:37 AM

        HAHA, well, yeah…the top division may be more “semi-pro”, but come on down a few levels and watch me and the other Al Bundy’s runnin around trying to relive their heydays!! Thx for reply.


  2. Posted by Denver Andrew in D.C. on 2011/01/07 at 7:28 AM

    Great stuff. Playing both co-ed 11s and men 7s (indoor a couple years ago) I noticed a few things in your post that I’ll change when I coach our co-ed alumni team this year (we make rec leagues look like the EPL, but we all get to play). Last year, our coaches pushed girls to the wings and full back positions, which left little attacking options on wings, so if the other team packed one side they would usually get the better of us: Invariably playing with a wide disparity in talent, you have to load one side with those with good ball skills and have a roamer in the middle or front that can react to where the distribution is coming from and engage. That obviously leaves holes elsewhere, so getting a running CDM that can plug holes will be key. Instead of 5-4-1, which is how most teams end up defending when they can’t run, we’ll probably use 4-4-1-1 and just have a roaming CAM and CDM.

    Thanks for this!


  3. Posted by randy on 2011/01/07 at 8:26 AM

    nothing to say, other than — as an aging rec-leaguer — i really enjoyed this post. thx.


  4. Posted by John on 2011/01/07 at 8:27 AM

    We play 11 a side with unlimited subs (provided everyone actually shows up for your team)

    The key issue for us is the fact that everyone (and I mean just about everyone) plays up the middle. There just is hardly any wing play at all. I finally gave up my throne as the Bornstein of my team and moved up from Full Back to play out wide on the left and noticed that there was tons of space out there (I actually enjoy it more now). Everything gets so damn compact that it really bogs down in the middle and the rushes come after a ball gets turned over down the middle of the field.

    Typically most teams play a 4 – 5 – 1. I say that formation because most teams don’t have enough talent to push a second striker up and since the battle to be won is in the midfield you need an extra body or outlet pass. Back four is flat, the 5 is usually 3 in the middle and two outside, but our right sided winger is always the extra striker/man/outlet up top. (or was anyway)

    The biggest problem that I have noticed here is one of people placing lack of experience in the back. Quite a few of the people who play here are D-1 and they want to play offense, not shut down the attack. So this lead quite a few times turning to play the ball and finding one other person on the line with me. (which is a sickening feeling really)

    Anyhoo, most of the teams react poorly to getting stretched out on the wing, so I tend to think that in our league a bit more industry in the wide spaces would lend itself to un-packing the defense and allowing the mids pushing up to have more space to play the ball.


  5. Posted by SamT on 2011/01/07 at 9:55 AM

    Oh my god! I thought I was the only one who thought about rec league tactics in that much detail. We are co-ed 7v7 mostly 30-something and older former high school players. Play a 2-1-2-1 with “defend the middle / quick counter up the middle) tactics. The defensive midfield position is absolutely critical to our setup. In fact, I can predict our results with a high degree of accuracy based on who is manning that position for us (not me). Congrats on the championship!


  6. Posted by sfshwebb on 2011/01/07 at 10:40 AM

    I sent out an email to my co-ed 8 on 8 team on monday night. I included as an addendum to the post. Feel free to re-read and would love to hear your comments.

    As we all know, Bob Bradley reads this blog and will no doubt take note of what y’all have to say😉


  7. I’ve played 7v7 rec leagues for a while and we’ve always used a 3-1-2 set up in which one of the outside backs turns into a winger. This formation always called for insane amounts of endurance to prevent the counter attack but we were always able to score goals because of how many we would have on the attack. We would play our best athlete in the midfield and let him circulate things to the two forwards and the streaking backs. It very much turned into a motion offense that you would see in a basketball game. The only problem with this was we constantly left ourselves open to the counter attack. Luckily our keep was a former sweeper so he knew how to play in the field which is something he was called to do quite a bit.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/07 at 11:32 AM

      Zac, that’s where we use the CDM…is the outside back becomes the winger, the CDM stay home and can cover that spot. It’s proven to be very successful because for us–again–only the CDM and CD have to stay rooted.


  8. Posted by Jim Crist on 2011/01/07 at 10:53 AM

    iPhone at work not conducive to adding comments, so I’ll keep it simple.
    My team plays 7 v. 7 indoor, usually in a 3-3-1. Our defensive strategy is to identify the opponents two best players at mid or forward and man mark them tight as hell. The solo forward will find space up top to set off the break as soon as the ball is won. We don’t have a ton of possession, and do our fair share of ball chasing, but closing down fast on their quality players has worked well for us.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/07 at 11:30 AM

      Good call Jim….we do that on the opponents’ best players…challenge is when you start playing teams with all good players…haha.


  9. Posted by Andy_4Lakes on 2011/01/07 at 11:18 AM

    Fun post! Wish I played rec league soccer!


  10. Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/01/07 at 11:49 AM

    I play in a 7v7 league with offsides and out of bounds on a 45 by 75 yard field.

    We are definately lower level (former high school players and a couple college second stringers now approaching or over 30). We play something like a 2-3-1. I put our fastest, highest endurance guys on the outside mid. I best ball handler in the at center mid and our best shooter at striker. Our center mid doesn’t have a lot of speed or endurance so he kinda just stays to the middle of the field (vertically and horizontally) and beats a guy to either 1. pass, 2. shoot, 3. carry closer. Our defenders just play like two sweepers being vocal to the mids to let the know who to cover when coming back. The key is for them to know when to attack the ball carrier and when to cover. One defender is really good but slow, the other not good but fast.

    Unfortunately we lost quite a bit as the other teams where a lot more fit and skilled than us. Any thoughts on how to improve? (other than training). Most of the higher skilled people I have are out of shape, and the in shape guys aren’t really skilled.


    • Posted by Erik the Orange on 2011/01/07 at 12:02 PM

      Defend and counter. I’d switch it up to a 3-2-1 and allow whoever you have as wing defenders to move forward on the counter. Employ your fast-but-not-so-good sweeper as the middle back and let him track down anyone that might get through on a counter or through ball. If your best shooter is good on the ball, I’d move him back to midfield and pair with one of your faster, yet not-so-skilled mids. Have your fast mid play more defensively. Pull back your current 3rd midfielder to one of the wingbacks and give him full license to get forward if he sees an opportunity. He needs to be fit as he will pull double duty in defending as well.

      When defending upfield and back, its always good to ‘cut the field in half’. Meaning when an opponent possesses the ball, take away the switch or the square ball, but show him the line. If you have 3 in D, one of your 2 wingers should be able to easily defend a line played ball. This also keeps your opponent in a non threatening sideline position.

      I dunno, my 2 cents?


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/07 at 12:06 PM

        Erik…completely agree with you…in rec league (as in professional) the “switchfield and go” after the counter is the most dangerous attack.

        Great minds think alike! :>

        Cutting the field…I hope I got that point across with the 2nd diagram above.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/07 at 12:04 PM

      Not knowing the league well enough, but we used to play a 2-3-1 one…and the challenge I saw with it is often one of the outside wingers can contribute nothing…you almost lose a player….when we did play that, we asked the wide guy to drift centrally on both o and d.

      I would try out a 3-2-1…that’s the formation we migrated to….move your wide endurance guys to the back wing back position and use your central mid as a CDM with the other mid running off him.

      OBivously you’ll have better defensive cover, but on offense let the wingbacks make runs and ask your CDM to cover…AND what I tell our wingbacks is if one of them goes up the other must “Stay honest” to their defensive responsibilities.

      With that 2-3-1….usually what I found is the mid on the off ball side really isn’t drawing any defenders and is to far advanced on a counter.

      At least try it out, you know.

      Also, always protect the middle of the field. If you give up a goal from a wide position just chalk it up to a good play by the other team. Keep those wingbacks narrow on defense.

      Let us know how it goes!


      • Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/01/07 at 12:52 PM

        I have tried a bunch of different things over the last season and am getting ready for the next one now. I do think the 3-2-1 suits us as well. When we were playing that we couldn’t score, but did prevent goals. We did have a bit of problem with the wingbacks tracking back effectively. But I can make it a point of emphasis.

        What I haven’t thought of is putting the faster lesser skilled defender (that’s me by the way :-)) in the center. I do think that might work. My other defender might be good at being a CDM but he isn’t very fit or very technical, but is a good decision maker and great tackler.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/07 at 12:59 PM

          Two more notes to score…etc….in a 3-2-1

          1) If you think you can muster it, push your d line up high, this should create more chances in the attack, though you must know your limits (and keeper) and prevent the counter


          2) tell your wingbacks to overlap and you should create chances….in the 3-2-1. the team must conform to your shape on the overlap….the positioning..*behind* the overlap is key….to insuring your defense will still work.


    • Posted by Kevin O' on 2011/01/07 at 1:16 PM

      I’ve captained a few teams similar to your description. Put it this way, I played with a law school team that would sometimes down shots of Jack at half-time. They called it their “hair of the dog” tactics. Ah, those 8AM games. To counter the drunken fluffs I would always employ one of our best skill players at sweeper to clean up the inevitable mess, help direct traffic, and win set pieces. As Matthew mentioned, definitely keep the better players toward the back in defensive positions. Ultimately, I would suggest (gulp), Bob Bradley’s tactics similar to when the US newbies played South Africa in our last match. They had never really played together before, they knew they were going up against what should have been a much more talented opponent in a hostile environment (see most rec league fields!) Like that game, I would say maintain defensive shape as much as you can and only get aggressive on certain counters and set pieces. In all honesty it sounds like your tactics are sound for what you have.

      Another suggestion is to use simple guerilla recruiting tactics. Try to hold your practices (however limited) in a very public place, like a park or school athletic field. I’ve picked up more than one ringer by just being visible. (The same way Subotic was discovered!) And they rarely come by themselves. They’ll say “yeah I’d like to play, but can my cousin join as well?” The answer is hell yeah! My funniest example was having two women crash one of our practices that ended up being candidates in training for the women’s pro league. They were only on our team for two games, but we absolutely thumped the opposition during those games (in a mostly all men’s league.) Pinpoint crosses, passes and stand up defending like you just don’t see at this level. They were mobbed by both teams after the game.

      We also once picked up a young British professor that had trained with the Man United youth academy. I still fantasize about the quality of passes and lion’s share of possession we enjoyed during his participation. He should have been vying for the MLS Super Draft, not wasting his time with us.

      Good luck!


  11. Posted by Frank and beans on 2011/01/07 at 1:36 PM

    As an out of shape 44 yr old who is just getting back into playing
    after 20 yrs of drinking and eating, usually in that order. we play 7 v 7 co-ed league with no actual formation except we try to keep the guys in the back as the girls goals count for two points. I played softball for a while and stopped playing because I thought the players were a bunch of Al Bundy’s a-holes still trying to prove they were worthy to their dad that didn’t pay them any attention. Well now I discovered that nope it is really the co-ed players in rec over 18 open soccer that take the crown. Does anybody else see this? I am out there to do two things play soccer which I did until my freshman year in college when I broke my leg playing a pick up game of football(coach loved that) and to have fun. But these jacklegs just take the fun out of it guys running down girls, goal keepers doing double handed pushes from behind and then saying it is a physical game? Just wondering if our team is in a real lame league or it is like that everywhere?


  12. Posted by JW on 2011/01/07 at 1:42 PM

    Our indoor soccer is 7-a-side, so I’m assuming it’s comparable to your pitches. We’ve had the most success playing 3-3, though it plays more like a 1-2-2-1. 1CB is bolted to the back, the wingbacks advance into a middle-wide midfield with one free to advance on attack. The wing forwards help on wide defense, allowing the wingbacks to prioritize central defensive duties, and the center forward positions themself for distribution out of the back. The major downfall of this formation is that it does not maintain possession well with the absence of a holding midfield. It succeeds well in moving the ball down the wings quickly and creating space on fast breaks.

    I’ve always wanted to try a 2-3-1 that transforms into a 2-1-3 deep in offense with high-pressing CBs and 3-2-1 in defense with the holding midfielder prioritizing defense and disrupting opposition distribution while lurking just beyond the box.

    I’ve seen 2-2-2 formations work well as long as the midfielders are fit. It generally ends up being 4-2::2-4 on the respective sides of the pitch.


  13. Posted by Alex on 2011/01/07 at 2:45 PM

    Our league plays a 6v6 indoors on turf fields (as much fun as alaska is, it really isn’t a soccer friendly state). My team usually plays a 2-1-2. Its very aggressive but our forwards are pretty good at hold up play and our front 3 (usually me in the midfield) are our best ball handlers. Our defenders are more athletes then anything else but they are big and fearless and most of the time win the ball. Then its usually a short pass to the mid or a long-ball over top to the forwards. We can either play for possession with mid playing higher as a box to box, or play for the counter, with the mid holding deeper. its good fun though, and at least during the summer we can cut loose and play full-field 11v11


  14. Posted by Darius on 2011/01/07 at 4:20 PM

    Having played with the left back for the Blacksox, I really think they have a liability there. A “scrapper” can only take you so far.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/07 at 4:22 PM

      He’s also constantly not disciplined and running all over the pitch like a chicken with his head cut off.

      But we takes care of the money for team so….you know…


  15. Posted by Kirk on 2011/01/07 at 9:04 PM

    Playing intramurals at school (a service academy) we generally had a decent quality of competition (good high school/could walk on to a decent college team) if the other side at least cared a little. I found the key to our team was getting one fast player wide and having our best player as the sweeper, like others have suggested. The sweeper always cleaned up, played a big diagonal to our wide player, and crash the box with your 2 CMs and the sweeper. We were only good enough to score about a goal a game, but that’s where our real secret tactic came in: PKs. Just hold fast, and pray that your keep is good enough to win the shootout. With some (albeit not much) pride, I will say that I was both the wide player and keeper during our outings. I’m not very good, but good enough to play the runDMB (shimmy inside, big touch outside, run as fast as you can, and pray that the ball you play comes somewhat near your players). Yah, my service was shit, but if you play enough balls (even if they are terrible), someone will score. From there, just guess right during the shootout (or at least watch the opponent during a shootout before your match).

    P.S. I’ve found that in less skilled games, it’s always better to play your lesser players up top. If they can run and will try, more often than not they’ll cause problems running onto balls in the box.


  16. Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/01/07 at 9:50 PM

    You have officially revolutionized rec-league soccer. Next step is pick-up soccer! I’d love to read a post focused on that which we all love to partake in


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