7v7 Soccer Formations Explained

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

What are the different 7 v 7 soccer formations? Understanding the beautiful game’s 7 v 7 soccer formations is important for any soccer coach, player, fan that wants to participate in small sided games of 7 a side soccer.

7 v 7 soccer is played on a smaller field and with fewer players than the regular game. 7v7 soccer games can be part of youth soccer games or adult leagues and there are different variations. In this guide, I will be explaining the most used 7v7 soccer formations.

7v7 soccer formationsThe 2-3-1 Formation

The 2-3-1 formation is one of the most balanced 7v7 soccer formations that allows teams to keep possession of the ball. This formation consists of two defenders, three midfielders, and one striker.

In this formation, the midfielders must provide enough support for the defense and the lone striker, with the central midfielder being able to act as either a CDM or CAM. This is a great formation to defend against any of the other formations on this list and it is also a great formation to get to the final third a lot and closer to the opponent’s goal. For this formation you will need

7v7 soccer formationsThe 2-1-2-1 Formation

The 2-1-2-1 formation is similar to the 2-3-1 formation but the main difference is that the central midfielder is playing more as a defensive midfielder while the two attacking midfielders are acting more as wide players,

In this formation the two attacking midfielders and striker act as the main attacking players. Although this formation provides more attacking options than the previous formation, it still provides a lot of balance and coverage on defense.

The positions in this formation also have a bit more clearly defined roles which can help younger players understand how to play a primarily defensive or offensive role. For this formation you will need

  • A pair of center backs that can work and communicate effectively together
  • A hard working central defensive mid
  • Fast wide midfielders
  • Striker that never stays isolated and can create scoring opportunities from out of nowhere

7v7 soccer formationsThe 3-2-1 Formation

The 3-2-1 formation is a popular choice for 7v7 soccer formations because of its balance between defense and offense, although it can be considered a more defensive formation. With this formation the central defender may play higher than the full back defenders, to help more in the midfield since the formation is lacking a true center defensive mid.

The main difference between this formation and the 2-1-2-1 is that the center back can act more like a sweeper, or a libero, with more freedom than a traditional center back.

For this formation you will need

  • The right defenders making up the back line
    • A strong pair of full backs or wing backs that can communicate effectively
    • A strong and technical center back that can help in the midfielder and often act like a cdm
  • Two hard working central midfielders
  • A striker who can hold the ball on top, create goal scoring opportunities, and link up with the midfielders.

7v7 soccer formationsThe 3-1-2 Formation

The 3-1-2 formation is a more defensive formation that is made up of three defenders, one midfielder, and two strikers. In this formation, having a smart, hard working, and technical midfielder is crucial to be able to create diamonds and triangles with the other teammates to move the ball around.

With this formation the defenders have the opportunity to push up and fill in gaps in wide areas while the strikers should be able to drop down and defend, not just focus on attack. For this formation you will need

  • Three center backs that can work and communicate well together (Know when one can push up and when one can cover)
  • A hard working central midfielder who links the defense with offense
  • A striker partnership that has good chemistry, can work well together, and press high line

7v7 soccer formationsThe 3-1-1-1 Formation

The 3-1-1-1 formation is another defensive formation that provides more support in midfield compared to the previous formation. With this formation it is important to keep possession of the ball within the central areas, since it is a narrow formation that does not offer much width.

This formation has players that have clearly defined roles which is why it is important to find plates that can fill those roles properly. For this formation you will need

  • Three strong defenders that can work well and communicate effectively
  • Full backs that can push up an help provide width when necessary
  • A leader in the cdm spot
  • A playmaker and attacking oriented player in the CAM spot
  • A lone striker that can hold the ball and link up with the midfield to create goal scoring opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best formation for smaller sided games such as 7 v 7 soccer?

In 7v7 soccer, there are a lot of popular formations which makes it hard to choose what is the best soccer formation of them all. Different formations will require certain positions and different tactics.

The best way to find the best soccer formation for 7v7 soccer games is to try different formations during soccer training sessions and find what works best based on the players you have. Throughout a match, the formations on the soccer field will most likely change a lot, which means that just because a team starts with a certain formation that does not mean they will not change formations throughout the course of the game.

What individual abilities and skills do young players need for 7 v 7 soccer?

  • Understanding the playing style of their team’s attack and defense
  • Technical skills
  • Be able to get out of tight spaces
  • Passing skills
  • Ball control
  • Scoring goals
  • Decision making skills
  • Stamina
  • Mindset
  • Understanding different soccer tactics such as the counter attack


In conclusion, there are a lot of different 7v7 soccer formations and there are other factors to consider before choosing what formation to play, such as considering the formation of the other teams. The game is always evolving which is why it is not surprising if a new formation for 7v7 soccer becomes popular in the near future.

In this blog, I covered everything you need to know about soccer formations, from the most commonly used formations to some new formations.

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