Coaching: Patterns Of Play In 4


Below, we look at six patterns of play you can use in the 4-2-3-1 formation. We will use tactical analysis & coaching to lớn identify four patterns of play. These include are for wide penetration, while the other two are for central penetration. If you are coaching the 4-2-3-1 system or you are participating in any high-màn chơi coaching courses such as the UEFA A or B licence where patterns of play are a requirement you may find the below valuable.

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While developing this series of passing and moving patterns, I tóm tắt what has worked for me on the training ground as well as taking influence from some of Europes finest teams who operate in this formation. In particular, I observed a lot of Arsenal under the early Mikel Arteta era. The Premier League side have sầu produced a lot of good fast fluid attacking football in the 4-2-3-1 formation, and they have developed a style under the young Spanish manager that any purest of the game would appreciate.

In the below three images, we will use analysis to lớn see a pattern of play which I have sầu detailed below as Pattern: Central B.In this Premier League clash between Crystal Palace & Arsenal Mesut Özil, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emeriông chồng Aubameyang (formerly of Borussia Dortmund) combine well to lớn give sầu Arsenal their first goal.


Play begins with a forward pass lớn Özil the CAM for Arsenal, who in turn lays-off a soft pass for Lacazette khổng lồ progress the attaông chồng. In anticipation, LM Aubameyang starts his run.


Due lớn his movement khổng lồ thua thảm the centre-baông xã and his positive sầu body shape Lacazette is best placed khổng lồ play a penetrating pass. While Aubameyang continues his run to meet the through ball.


Aubameyang takes an excellent first touch and finishes down low lớn the goalkeepers right.

A three-pass combination which resulted in a goal, a goal that would not have sầu been scored If not for the perfect passes, well timed run and good toàn thân shape of the attackers.

Below we will look at:

Why coach patterns of playOrientation of the 4-2-3-1Wide patternsCentral patternsGetting success

Why coach patterns of play

Bottom line, we train patterns of play to lớn help players identify and exexinh tươi pre-determined passing & moving combinations khổng lồ beat the opponent’s defence. Sometimes that may mean penetration lớn score a goal, other times it may also mean playing through the opponents forwards or midfield lớn get through their defensive sầu block or pressure.

If you are a coach, also consider individual and team confidence. When the attacking team is only playing in reaction to one another, this means they are trying lớn discover moments và gaps out of pure randomness to get success. At the same time, the opponent can anticipate và defover.

The likely outcome is a lot of technical & tactical errors that subsequently result in higher turnovers, which weighs a players confidence. On the other h&, when you have a team that knows the system và they can execute plays on minimal touches, và at such a high speed the opponent cannot always react lớn this, which in turn, offers a higher chance of success.

Orientation of the 4-2-3-1

The characteristics of a particular formation can only be emphasized by the style of play of the team that uses it. The 4-2-3-1 is a flexible formation that offers a lot of versatility khổng lồ possession-based teams that look lớn create numerical superiority in defence và midfield.


Notice by the graphical annotation each players primary and secondary movements in attaông chồng represented by the grey arrows.

In the build-up phase generally, one of the two pivots can drop inlớn the defence to create a false back-three temporarily as the full-backs advance forward.

Higher up the field, with wide midfielders drifting into lớn the half-spaces as well as the two central-midfielders supporting cđại bại from behind this helps create numerical superiority as well as optional flexibility in central areas. As these five sầu players operate centrally, both full-backs then can commvà their respective channels.

Along with that, the two centre-backs tư vấn from behind while the centre-forwards remains the focal point in attack. The centre-forward operates as a traditional number ‘9’ as a target player aao ước other functions.

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In the above tactical annotation, we see a comtháng game moment where the 4-2-3-1 holds its value.The CAM has positional flexibility to lớn operate on both sides of the field và also between the lines of the opposition. This makes him a tougher player khổng lồ mark; also, the CAM is key in creating overloads and high-value goal-scoring opportunities in the opponents final third.

Above, the CAM receives a lay-off pass from the CF, the LM makes a penetrating run in the half-space which in turn serves to pull the opposition RB out of position. This allows the CAM khổng lồ either play a through ball lớn the LM if possible or out wide to the LB to continue the attaông chồng.

Wide patterns

All patterns can be mirrored on both sides of the field. The ‘yellow’ icons on the field represent mannequins, work at your own pace as you may want khổng lồ gradually introduce one, two or three defenders along with the mannequins over time.

All patterns of play are mix up to play against a back four as represented by the positioning of the mannequins on the field. For each pattern of play, I recommkết thúc positioning the mannequins in natural defensive positions relative lớn the play.

These patterns of play develop attacks that penetrate the opposition defence in wide areas. From there, you may want to introduce your own crossing và finishing principles or allow freedom for the ball carrier to dribble inkhổng lồ the box & determine his own options.

Wide A:


RB plays forward lớn the RM; the RM starts wide when receiving the passAfter the RB makes the initial pass, he makes a run in the channelAs RM steps inside with the ball to the half-space the CM moves slightly wide of the RM to lớn receive the ball unmarked and also lớn offer himself the angle to play the next pass forwardThe timing- movement relationship of the third pass is crucial as the RB needs lớn receive sầu the pass before going offside as well as the CM not delaying in his pass before losing the angle to lớn play forward.The RM should try to lớn offer a cushioned pass into lớn the run of the CM so he can play the third and final pass with one-touchThe RB should hold the width in his run so that he has a good body shape as he receives the through ball.

Wide B:


The RB takes a short touch forward as the trigger for the CF lớn drop short to receiving the passAlthough it’s a long first pass, the CF should lay off the second pass with one touch if possibleAs the ball is travelling to lớn the CF, the CAM makes an angled run inlớn the channelThe CF lays off a pass to lớn the CM, who then plays khổng lồ the RM.At this point, the RM will want khổng lồ offer a high to lớn low movement as well as holding the width such that he has both the space và the angle to lớn play the final passIdeally, the CM should give the RM a pass that he can play subsequently play forward with on one touch if possible. The position & body shape is crucial here.Again the extra touch can be the killer for the final pass, so the quality of passes is essential.The CAM should angle his run khổng lồ allow himself a higher degree of flexibility as he looks to lớn beat the offside line in meeting the final pass.From here, this would set up a good cross to finish opportunity.

Wide C:


The RB takes a short touch forward as a trigger for the CF to lớn come short from his highest point to meet the passAs the bass is travelling the CAM makes an angled run in between the lines và at a sufficient distance from the CFIf the unique of the first pass is good, then the CF can lay off a pass into lớn the run of the CAM with one-touchAt this point, the LM should be making his angled run lớn create a run that would meet a potential penetrating pass. In doing so, the LM would serve lớn create space for the LB by bringing the opposition full-back with hlặng on his run.At this point, the LB should look to lớn cover the ground quickly to get high in support and continue khổng lồ develop a high-value attaông chồng.

Wide D:


The LB dribbles forward with the ball at a half pace & with good cthua kém control of the ballTo simulate when an opposition player would engage the press on the LB releases the ball at an advanced but realistic position from the half-spaceAt the moment the ball should be released from the LB the CF makes a short run deep to lớn receive the ball unmarkedAgain receiving a good pass from the LB, the CF lays off a short pass to lớn the CAM who is moving wide of his central position away from pressureIt is at this point also the LM makes a disguised movement to lớn go deep but then to spin the defender on the outside và make a run forward in the channelAs the LM cannot afford to slow his run, the CAM must look to play a timely pass forward through the gap lớn meet the run of the LM before he is offsideThis is a good position to lớn develop a ‘cross’ lớn ‘finish’ opportunity.

Central patterns

The primary difference between central & wide penetration is that central patterns in the opponents half generally result in players arriving in good goal-scoring positions. As for wide patterns that come to lớn fruition, they typically result in wide crossing positions or dribbling opportunities into the box from a wide position. That is unless the pattern includes the final ball inkhổng lồ the box. chú ý, all patterns of play can be mirrored to both sides of the field.

Central A:


The RB carries the ball forward in the half-space to lớn develop overall shorter passing distances which in turn will serve khổng lồ help the passes move sầu at a higher tempo and with greater efficiencyUnless pressed the RB should react to play the first pass lớn the movement of the CF who makes a sort run deepAs the ball is travelling the CAM’s movement is key, as he needs khổng lồ arc his run such that he remains at a sufficient distance from the CF lớn be an option for a pass as well as to lớn help himself have sầu a positive toàn thân shape as he meets the final pass facing towards the goal,The initial pass has to lớn be a perfect pass to the strikers preferred foot so to lớn allow a one-touch lay off to the CAM.The RM must remain wide as he serves lớn create the width by engaging the opposition full-back as well as being a secondary option should the final pass not be executedPassing qualities, as well as timing và movement of the runs, are critical lớn getting success

Central B:


The RB carries the ball forward in the half-space to an advanced positionThe starting position of the CAM must be high và wider to the CF, which would be a natural staggered position in open play.The CAM receives a pass from the RB and if he can play his first touch as a pass lớn the CF he shouldThe CF makes high lớn low movement away from the CB only moments before the CAM’s passThe CF’s body shape is crucial as he should be looking to lớn receive the ball facing the opposition goal.It is the subtle và fine details that determine the success as the CF needs to lớn be late on his run not to lớn be marked & have a good first touch to receive and play forward.From the time the CAM passes khổng lồ the CF, the LM should be making his run at full-tốc độ lớn beat the trailing defender, in this case, the full-bachồng.Should the final pass not be available the supporting LB is also an option out wide to lớn continue the attack.After the CAM plays a pass to the CF, he may also make a curved run around the CF to lớn be an option in the space on the opposite side.Passing unique, toàn thân shape và well-timed runs cannot be overstated as crucial components for getting success.

Getting success

The biggest challenge is getting players to identify all at once the trained pattern of play at the same time in a 90-minute match through their tactics. However, with the right conditions of open play in training, we can develop each players capacity to lớn read the game & identify those moments. Take a look at my recent coaching articles: ‘Coaching: Patterns of play in 4-4-2′ as well as ‘Coaching: Patterns of play in 4-3-3′ lớn see how I coach my players to lớn identify and execute those practised patterns of play in a competitive sầu game.

Options central & wide: We have outlined a total of six options for a team who plays a 4-2-3-1 formation khổng lồ seek out, create và exeđáng yêu. Passing qualities, as well as the right timing & movement, will always be basic essentials to lớn get success. In the beginning, when working with your players, narrow it down lớn one or max two patterns in a week. Let them get used to lớn this, learn the pattern well và build confidence.

What-If’s: *This is usually where a coach has to show his value as a mentor, as there will be plenty opportunity for stoppages in the conditioned game, helping the players discover their what-ifs will be crucial for developing a confident possession-based team.Rethành viên it is essential for players khổng lồ identify not only their patterns of play but also know their what-ifs, if the desired outcome cannot be reached.

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Mindphối, repetition và patience: Try not lớn hurry success too early, the more you handover performance ownership khổng lồ the player and create the correct mindset within the group the sooner you will see the rewards of this training. Facilitating a mindset of discovery and problem solving over error avoidance & forcing opportunities will significantly improve the players learning as well khổng lồ help create the desired outcome.

If you enjoyed & found this article valuable, or you still have sầu some questions or want to lớn discover more on patterns of play in the 4-2-3-1 formation, write lớn me on Twitter