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TomK

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In another topic, the level and number of teams using a particular defensive system was used to argue the "goodness" of a system.  It was claimed (correctly, I think) that most professional teams use a FB4 or FB3 zonal defense to support the idea that it's a better system.  I think it's probably true that many youth teams use a stopper/sweeper diamond defense.

 

It has also been stated many times, here and elsewhere, that the system should be based on the players that you have. (The instructor at a NCSAA course, a college coach, mentioned that he used a sweeper because of the specific player that played that position, although he also mentioned that he played in front of the back line, which is not typical.)

 

Ignoring that idea for the moment, why do most youth coaches use the stopper/sweeper system?  Is it just ignorance of alternatives and they see other teams doing it or are there some advantages for youth teams?  My belief is that it's a little easier to teach especially to beginning players, and works pretty well against unsophisticated attacks, but can be broken down by better teams  (that can switch the ball effectively).  It may be more effective for teams with a very wide skill level than would a FB4.  I'm open to other views though.

 

Going back to the systems for players idea, what qualities would your players have or not have for a stopper/sweeper system to be better than FB4 or vice versa?

 

 

 

TheGiss

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Reply with quote  #2 

We just wswitched from FB4 to a hybrid sw/st. Our backs simply had so much background playing a man-marking sw/st, that hey were not comfortbale witht he transition.

I think sw/st is an easier system because roles are more rigidly defined. Additionally, our backs are great defenders, but are a step slow (in one case two steps slow, lol) to defend in a straight zonal fb4. So I think speed is critical in a fb4, as well as anm ability to evaluate situations.


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RickG

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Reply with quote  #3 

I have a new U14 boys select team this year, composed of guys from three previous teams. One of the teams played a flat back 4 and so I've got some guys who have a bit of an idea about zonal defending. The other two teams played man marking systems. The guys from the former zonal team have a much better tactical understanding than the guys from the two other teams, even though the team they played on was actually at a lower level. Very interesting.

 

One thing I've learned to love about the flat back 4 is the way it sets up your team shape for counter attacks. I've  played with sweepers, stoppers and man markers, and I've used zonal 3 back systems on my girls teams. My girls team has won 3 league titles in a row using a 3-4-1-2 system. But, we picked up a few extra defenders at tryouts last spring, and we have weaker goaltending than in the past. So, we played around with a zonal 4-4-2 this spring and my players love it. The backs LOVE the fact that they now feel much more comfortable about attacking from the back, and I'm giving them more license to do that. They also like the fact that when we win the ball we have a better attacking shape than most teams who use a sweeper/stopper and man markers. Playing the ball across the back to the free back on the weakside seems to cause havoc in girls soccer. So, I'm now a 4-4-2 convert. I'm using it with both my U18 girls team, and my U14 boys team. The boys are going to take several months to learn it though and we'll give up a lot of goals in some games until we nail it down. Patience and player development -- I'd rather be a great team at U17 than win games now...

coachkev

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Wait until Thoughtsux sees THIS...he'll have a field day with it

paulee

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Reply with quote  #5 

Tom, the reason you see most youth teams play a man marking system is that it's easier to teach to youngsters.  "Johnny, I want you to follow #8 wherever he goes."  Like you said, it's easy to unbalance by a better team.  I played one team who had no idea what to do when my left back ran up the field to socre.  You could see the other team looking at each other saying "whose mark is that?"  If I have defenders who can play, not just defend, I would want to get them involved in the attack, so I would be very likely to use a zone of 4. 


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CoachRuss

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Reply with quote  #6 

I agree the diamond back sw/st and marking backs is easier to teach at the younger ages and provides you a "safety" in the back.

 

I switched to the fb4 only because my diamond back was giving up to many goals, and I thought it would fit my personnel better.

 

After using it for a few games, the players like it better.

 

I do think it helps set up the possession game/counter attack better.  Easier to get the OB up the field when you know the other 3 backs are there to provide a base defense against a counter attacker.  Also, all 4 backs can be used easily for back passes from the mids who find no avenues to move the ball forward in the attack.  Easier to switch the direction of play with fb4 than the st/sw. 

 

In a sw/st formation, often I saw the OB get up in the attack but this left only 2 backs to cover defensively.  ST often would not be in a great position to drop.

 

Also, I have a player who is a great Defensive player.  I had him play ST, but it seem to put a restraint on him.  Moving another player into a CB position freed him up to play DM without having the ST responsibilities.


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themuzicman

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Reply with quote  #7 
The stopper/sweeper in a 4-4-2 is essentially a 3-5-2 with a deep defensive midfielder.  In essense, we're playing a stopper/sweeper in our 8v8 setup with a 3-3-1, where the center mid's job is to keep the ball in front of them, and control the midfield.

In a 4-4-2, there is more pressure applied in the middle of the field, but the defense lacks width, and is going to be more vulnerable to attacks up the wings.  Since many youth teams do not cross or finish from crosses well, this is ideal, since it tends to clog up the middle of the field.

A flat back four gives the defense width, and tends to close down the wings more quickly, since there are four bodies covering width instead of three.

In this kind of system, there is usually a defensive or holding mid (or two) who is tasked with the "stopper" job of clogging up the middle.  However, this does allow the backs to join the attack, when space and time allow, which creates headaches for the other team's defense.

With the stopper/sweeper, the defense doesn't generally join the attack, but the extra midfielder doesn't have to do the stopper's job, either.

Muz


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KeiththeKoach

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Reply with quote  #8 

I believe the answer lies in the inability of youth coaches to put the amount of time into DRILLING THE UNITY required to play a system (FB3/4) that must at all times observe the need to maintain defensive shape.  Teaching zonal positioning to one player (the sweeper) is much easier than teaching it to three or four.  UNITY is the major difficulty. 

 

The half way line is the first restraining factor in determining the space in which the opposition can play due to the offside law.  The back four is in effect a substitute half way (space restraining) line as it retreats towards or moves away from its own goal.  If the players are not always aware of each others positioning the line will be broken. 

 

The major advantage of using the offside law as a space restraint is lost by those who use the sweeper.  Grasp this fundamental and you will not only understand the game better, you will appreciate why the traditionalists on this forum will not have a bar of radical change to the offside law.  Creating space where none exists is fundamental to the beauty and skill of the game.

Youth players who are not subjected to the disciplines of fb3/4 are deprived of real understanding and perhaps love of the game itself.

 

 

TheGiss

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachRuss

 

I switched to the fb4 only because my diamond back was giving up to many goals, and I thought it would fit my personnel better.

 

After using it for a few games, the players like it better.

 

And I switched to the diamond back because my fb4 was giving up too many goals and my personnel though it would fit better.

 

Perhaps the lesson is never etch anything in stone.except an epitaph.


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CoachRuss

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGiss
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachRuss

 

I switched to the fb4 only because my diamond back was giving up to many goals, and I thought it would fit my personnel better.

 

After using it for a few games, the players like it better.

 

And I switched to the diamond back because my fb4 was giving up too many goals and my personnel though it would fit better.

 

Perhaps the lesson is never etch anything in stone.except an epitaph.

I agee.  2 yrs ago I began with the fb4 and switched to the st/sw diamond back. 


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Brianm

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Reply with quote  #11 

I think it is a time thing. You not only have to teach the back 4 you also have to teach the mid field how to interact with the back 4.

EaglesCoach

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Reply with quote  #12 

A few years back I only knew the SW/ST system. The guys here convinced me to try the flat 3/4 defense and I've never looked back. With my current teams, I have taught the flat 3 to them at U-9 and now at U-10 I'm the only one who uses it and none of the other coaches or players can figure it out. I used to try to teach the kids what to look for in case someone knew how to attack it, but I stopped that because none of my opponents know.

I don't like the SW/ST system because "I believe" it makes defenders lazy.


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JimN

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGiss
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachRuss

I switched to the fb4 only because my diamond back was giving up to many goals, and I thought it would fit my personnel better.

After using it for a few games, the players like it better.

And I switched to the diamond back because my fb4 was giving up too many goals and my personnel though it would fit better.

Perhaps the lesson is never etch anything in stone.except an epitaph.



Perhaps the thought we should consider is that the system should be selected for the long term, and taught for the long term, knowing that you may have some hiccups along the way.

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thoughtsoc

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Reply with quote  #14 

Sweeper issues have been discussed a great deal here.  I believe in three backs flat across the back .  Sticking a sweeper behind them just makes their job harder, for it redraws the offside line.  Opponents can then get behind the other three defenders without being in an offside position.  Also, none of the three can easily back up the sweeper (provide cover), and if he's beaten it's usually off to the races.  So, it's essentially a waste of a player whom you could place somewhere more useful.

 

That said, I'm on the verge of using a sweeper with my U-12 rec team.  All the attacks go straight to goal anyway, so one player can break up most of the attacks.  I also used a sweeper at a soccer camp once, when I had to play two or three other defenders who were relatively week.  They needed a stronger player behind them.

 

I also dislike marking back systems a great deal, particularly at levels where possession changes hands so quickly.  Run to cover some one, then run to get open for a pass.  Oops, the ball was lost.  Where did that opponent go?  Seems like a useless expenditure of energy.

 

If you believe in sweepers or marking backs, you should have your head examined.

EricMcGrath

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Reply with quote  #15 

russ,

 

the opponents can only get behind these three defenders if the defenders stand still and let them.

 

also, the sweeper has the advantage of not having to co-orindate the offside line.

 

he simply has to push up to flatten the line if he wants to keep the attackers honest.

EricMcGrath

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Reply with quote  #16 

also, marking doesn't have to be man-to-man, it can be zonal. and that negates the rpoblem you refer to.

CB

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thoughtsoc

 

 

I also dislike marking back systems a great deal, particularly at levels where possession changes hands so quickly.  Run to cover some one, then run to get open for a pass.  Oops, the ball was lost.  Where did that opponent go?  Seems like a useless expenditure of energy.

 

If you believe in sweepers or marking backs, you should have your head examined.

I haven't read any post but this one Russ, but you just insulted many of the top coaches in the country.   I can see why AFB made a claim about your ignorance of how systems work on another thread I was reading.  What possessed you to make such a statement?

thoughtsoc

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Reply with quote  #18 

I agree, Eric.  The advantage of a one-player offside line is that this one player can pull the line up and back without having to coordinate with anyone.  In my experience, though, he's often reluctant to do so.  But no doubt a sweeper at a high level can play the role effectively.

thoughtsoc

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Reply with quote  #19 

CB, I do dislike sweepers and marking backs.  However the bit about having your head examined is a joke.  I've been told, essentially, that I should have my head examined for believing in a triangle three.  I've argued that trying to diagnose people because of their defensive systems or soccer beliefs is an unsound practice.  So, I was playfully engaging in abhorant behavior that is usually directed at me.  Hence the smiley face.

 

If you or anyone else uses a sweeper and/or marking backs, that's okay with me.  I don't really think you should have your head examined.  Sorry for the confusion. 

CB

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thoughtsoc

CB, I do dislike sweepers and marking backs.  However the bit about having your head examined is a joke.  I've been told, essentially, that I should have my head examined for believing in a triangle three.  I've argued that trying to diagnose people because of their defensive systems or soccer beliefs is an unsound practice.  So, I was playfully engaging in abhorant behavior that is usually directed at me.  Hence the smiley face.

 

If you or anyone else uses a sweeper and/or marking backs, that's okay with me.  I don't really think you should have your head examined.  Sorry for the confusion. 

Boy... I'm gone for the weekend and everyone has developed a sense of humor.  Good for you Russ!  I was starting to worry about you!

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