How to Know Soccer Team Positions and Their Roles


Knowing the responsibilities of the different player positions in soccer will enhance your understanding of the game.

  • Appreciate the goalkeeper. Also called goalie, or keeper, goalkeepers are unique in that they are the only players allowed to touch the ball with their hands. They may use their hands within the penalty area to keep the opposing team from scoring.

  • Watch the defenders. Their primary role is to take the ball away from the offense and start the attack in their team's favor. Their secondary role is to shut down the attack of the opposing team.

  • Check out the midfielders. They are often among the most hard-working players. They play both offense and defense. The midfield (middle ground) is the link between the offense and the defense.

  • Keep your eye on the forwards. They finish the attack and try to score. They must be willing to come back and aid in the midfield or defense to start an attack. Often, forwards are required to help defend corner kicks and free kicks.

Tips & Warnings

  • Understand the fluidity of the game. There is no such thing as a fixed space or position in soccer. Players may interchange positions according to the flow of the game.
  • Differentiate between the youth and adult games. In the early stages, children should be encouraged to rotate positions in order to learn them all. As a general rule, they should not specialize before age 11 or 12.
  • Learn the rules. The Laws of the Game are the international guidelines of soccer. They are adapted for youth play, and may vary slightly among leagues.
  • Understand how positions are played. Systems of play (e.g. called "4,4,2" or "4,3,3") refer to the alignment of defenders, midfielders and forwards, in that order.
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