Soccer Positions

A Complete Guide to Soccer Positions Explained (2024)

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

Understanding soccer positions is one of the most fundamental parts of the beautiful game, whether you are a youth or a professional player, a coach, or a fan. Soccer is a simple sport where two teams of eleven players, all playing different positions, face off against each other to see who can score the most goals to win the match.

There are four main soccer positions, attackers, midfielders, defenders, and goalkeepers, and each one has more specific positions each with their unique roles, responsibilities, and skills required. In this blog, I will explain everything you need to know about soccer positions.

soccer positions

How Many Soccer Positions Are There?

A soccer team is made up of 11 players and there are four main positions: attackers, midfielders, defenders, and goalkeepers. This means that there are a total of 22 players on the soccer field during a competitive game, plus the bench players.

The number of players in each of the main areas will differ based on the formation a team is playing with, except for the goalkeeper since there will always only be one per team. Each formation sets up the players differently and requires different numbers of players in each area.

For example, the 4-3-3 formation, featured above, has four defenders, three midfielders, three forwards and of course one goalkeeper. The 5-3-2 formation has five defenders, three midfielders, and two forwards.

The defenders make up the main defensive line, or the last line of defense, while the midfielders make up the midfield line, and the forwards make up the attacking line, pretty simple.

soccer positionsWhat are the Different Soccer Positions?

Although there are four main positions on the field, and 11 players on each team at a time, there are a variety of soccer positions that players can play based on the team’s formation and tactics that the soccer coach chooses.


Every soccer team needs one goalkeeper who is responsible for protecting the team’s goal and preventing the opposing team from scoring goals. The goalkeeper is the only player on the field who can use their hands, but only if they are inside their goalie box and if their teammates did not intentionally pass the ball back to them.


The defenders prevent opposition players from scoring goals by blocking shots, making tackles, interceptions, and clearing danger away from their penalty area. They are also responsible for building the play from the back line.

The defensive players are made up of central defenders called center backs and wide defenders called the full backs, or sometimes wing backs. The fullbacks are made up of the left and right full backs.


The midfield is made up of central midfielders and wide midfielders and there are many different types of midfielders.

  • Center midfielders: Known as the CM and as a box to box midfielder
  • Center Defensive midfielders: Known as the CDM and as a holding midfielder
  • Center attacking midfielders: Known as the CAM and attacking midfielders

Midfielders link defense and attack and control the tempo of the game and typically, the team that wins the midfield wins the entire game. The midfield helps maintain possession of the ball, create scoring opportunities through accurate passes, and intercept opponent passes.


The forwards make up the attacking line and can be made up of a center forward, also known as a false 9, strikers, and/or wingers, which are the left and right wingers. Their main jobs include being dangerous in the attacking third by creating scoring opportunities and scoring goals.

A team may play with two strikers with one usually being the support striker, or second striker, that drops deeper to help the midfield, while the main striker focuses on scoring goals.

soccer positionsUnderstanding Soccer Positions by Number

In a perfect world, soccer jersey numbers would be given to the players on every team based on their positions, like it originally started out, however we all know that is not the case now. Back in the day, the starting 11 players were given the first numbers of the team, 1-11, which is why certain numbers are still associated with certain positions.

Some positions are known as “the number _” even if the player in that position does not wear that specific jersey number. The most standard way to understand these soccer positions by numbers is by using the 4-3-3 formation, which is the first image above.

The striker position (ST) is known as the number 9

The left winger (LW) is usually referred to as the number 7

The right winger (RW) is usually referred to as the number 11

The center attacking midfielder (CAM) is referred to as the number 10

The central midfielder (CM) is referred to as the number 8

The central defensive midfielder (CDM) is referred to as the number 6

The center backs (CB) are usually referred to as the number 4 or number 5

The full backs (FB)are usually referred to as the number 2 or number 3

The goalkeeper (GK) is usually always given the number 1 jersey

soccer positions

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Key Attributes All Elite Players Have Regardless of Soccer Position

If you are new to the game, or are looking for ways to get better at soccer, then it is important to understand that no matter what position you play in you need to develop a good foundation of all essential soccer skills.

This is a list of all essential skills you should train regardless of what position you play in.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, will help you get closer to making your dreams a reality. This program offers world-class training tips and coaching that will help you become a better soccer player no matter what position you play.

How many soccer positions are there?

There are 11 soccer positions per team with varying positions depending on the formation of the team.


In conclusion, understanding the different soccer positions, as well as soccer formations is crucial for any player who wants to improve their overall individual performance, as well as their team’s success on the field.

In this guide, I went over the different positions of soccer teams from the defensive players, like goalkeepers and defenders, to the more offensive players, such as the midfielders and forwards. I also went over what the different soccer jersey numbers mean and how they relate to the soccer positions on the field.

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