Talking Tactics: 1-2-2 (5-a-side)

  • Start to understand playing out from the back, basic roles and responsibilities and simplified passing lanes.
  • Possible topics to work on: passing, receiving, shielding, shooting.
  • Transition's into 1-2-2-2 formation (7 v. 7).
 1-2-2 formation (don't forget the goalkeeper is a player too!)

1-2-2 formation (don't forget the goalkeeper is a player too!)

Why Play It?

The 1-2-2 formation gives players the first introduction to playing out from the back and the ways in which they can split wide in order to receive the ball from the goalkeeper. You can also talk about the passing lanes this may create in the middle of the field if both of these players become marked.

 If the defenders split wide, they open themselves up as options to receive the ball. Alternatively, this may create a big space for a forward pass to the strikers higher up the field.

If the defenders split wide, they open themselves up as options to receive the ball. Alternatively, this may create a big space for a forward pass to the strikers higher up the field.

As an introductory formation, the 1-2-2 keeps the roles and responsibilities basic. There are only two lines of players and they are able to think of themselves as either defenders or attackers. There is little confusion which allows players to concentrate on their role within the team. Two players work together to stop the other team scoring. Two players work together to score goals. As they become more familiar with the formation, players can then start to work on both aspects of the game by joining in attacks or working back to help defend.

 The two forwards work off the ball to become available. One coming short, one running in behind.

The two forwards work off the ball to become available. One coming short, one running in behind.

Additionally, as players start to move on from individual topics such as dribbling, moves and stop starts, they are starting to share the ball more often with each other. Passing lanes and having options for the players on the ball is a good base to work from. By playing in a square shape, players should automatically have two options (one right, one left) as well as straight forward passing lanes to teammates. 

 In a 1-2-2, passing lanes are easy for players to identify in order to work on their passing ability.

In a 1-2-2, passing lanes are easy for players to identify in order to work on their passing ability.

Topics To Work On

As an introductory formation, the 1-2-2 can start off very basic in terms of topics worked on. It can be as simple as rules of the game and understanding who's doing what. It can then progress into specific topics and bringing out learning outcomes from that week's sessions:

  • Passing
  • Receiving
  • Shielding
  • Shooting

From there, this can become more advanced as you look at:

  • Forwards movement
  • Defending with pressure and cover
  • Delay/recovering defending
  • Third man running or players joining in from deep

Formation to Build Into

From the 5 v. 5 format and small sided games the next stage up will likely be playing 7 v. 7 games. This formation is suited to transitioning into a 1-2-2-2 formation, adding an extra line of players - midfielders. This will allow coaches to build on the lessons and topics already learned and look at the ways in which roles and responsibilities change with the additional players.

 As players progress from 5 v. 5 to 7 v. 7, a 1-2-2-2 formation can be adapted and implemented.

As players progress from 5 v. 5 to 7 v. 7, a 1-2-2-2 formation can be adapted and implemented.