Website Manager

Manchester South Junior Soccer

Manchester South Junior Soccer

U12 Tactical Play

In U12, we encourage the use of game like exercises and Small Sided Games (SSGs) in training  to offer more touches on the ball and the repeated experience of basic soccer (tactical) problems.  The belief is that technical abilities will accelerate due to increased time on the ball and because the ball skill demands are in realistic game like conditions. 

Match like environments demand transition and facilitate learning tactical awareness.   Also there is a greater demand on mental concentration, keeping kids engaged. Teamwork is promoted because of the increase in problem solving situations that teammates need to work out together.  Players participate in all facets of the game. Skilled players can't win it alone and less confident players can’t “hide’. Last and most important, game like exercises and SSGs in training are closest to the conditions that the players have signed up for, playing soccer.  Game like activities not only promote skill and tactical development but promote active participation which is directly related to fun and enjoyment and to the issues surrounding quality of play and the retention of players.

Areas of Emphasis in U12 Development:
  • Possession based play / play with purpose
    • Encourage players to make decisions in advance of receiving the ball rather than after it is in their feet.
      • Increased emphasis on making plays to keep team possession of the ball
      • Actively discourage punts, clears and dump outs, plays that concede possession or result in 50-50 balls.
  • Challenging for the ball, attempt to dictate play.
  • Use of full field on the attack
    • Width and depth in attack
    • encourage players without the ball to support teammates in possession of the ball
    • it's OK to play the ball back
    • Encourage simple penetrating plays - combination play and long touches behind defending players.
      • Encourage creativity, particularly in the attacking third.  Goals are often score from "risky" plays
  • All players play all positions, U12's are too young to specialize.

Areas of Emphasis in U12 Team Play:
  • Building out of the back
    • Emphasis on maintaining possession for Keepers on goal kicks and saves by deliberate play to the feet of field players rather than punting the ball.
    • Emphasis on maintaining possession for Fullbacks through deliberate play to midfielders, another fullback or the keeper, or by penetrating open space with the ball.
  • Fullback are part of the attack and at a minimum should hold the mid-field line when their team is in the attacking third.
    • Fullbacks joining play in the attacking half help create 2v1 and 3v2 advantages.
    • Fullbacks joining play in the attacking help recover 50-50 balls and clearing attempts, keep possession and prolong the attack.
    • Fullbacks joining play in the attacking half have to actively evaluate situation and make decisions to not expose their team defensively.
      • Fullbacks deployed deep in the defending third create out manned situations in the attacking third when their team is in possession.
      • Fullbacks deployed deep in the defending third create space for the opposing team to penetrate when the ball is turned over.
  • Do not use a sweeper; sweepers have a role in playing 11v11 although very few, if any, professional teams use sweepers anymore.
    • In U12, Sweepers:
      • Stretch the length of field, creating space for the opponent to penetrate on the attack.
      • Often "clear the yard", punting the ball and conceding possession.
      • Are antithetical to the player development model, being deployed when game result is more important.
  • Use of a 3-3-1, 2-3-2 or 3-2-2 system
    • To teach player roles and encourage width and depth in attacking and pressure and cover in defending.
      • To aid in transition to 11v11 (U14) where 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 are often used.
      • Use of 3-3-1:
        • Most directly translates to 4-4-2, the most commonly used formation in 11v11 in US Soccer.
      • Use of 2-3-2:
        • Utilizes what will later become two central backs and encourages dependent play and communication between the two.
        • Uses a DCM and helps set up triangular play options when building from the back and promotes transitional play into the attacking midfielders
      • Use of 3-2-2
        • Encourages the use of the outside backs to join the attack in the outside channels, adding width and pressure.
        • Encourages midfielders to come back to aid defenders and act as outlets when possession is regained.


Manchester South Junior Soccer League
PO Box 4851 
Manchester, New Hampshire 03108

Email: [email protected]

Copyright © 2024 Manchester South Jr. Soccer  |  Privacy Statement |  Terms Of Use |  License Agreement |  Children's Privacy Policy  Log In