Youth Soccer Positions [Complete Guide 2022]

Knowing the positions of the players on the soccer field is essential to fully appreciate and enjoy a youth soccer game.

Over the years, I’ve seen many youth soccer games that can be incredibly exciting to watch. They may not have the same level of skill as a professional soccer game, but the games can have just as much passion and enthusiasm.

I have found that an understanding of how and where the players are positioned on the field has increased my enjoyment of the game, and in this article, I want to share what I’ve learned with you.

But for those of you wanting to understand more about youth soccer, let’s start by looking at what the positions are in youth soccer?

Youth soccer positions and numbers are:

  1. Goalkeeper (GK)
  2. Right Back (RB)
  3. Left Back (LB)
  4. Right Side Center Back (RCB)
  5. Left Side Center Back (LCB)
  6. Defensive Midfielder (DM)
  7. Right Midfielder/Winger (RM)
  8. Central Midfielder (CM)
  9. Striker/Center Forward (S/CF)
  10. Attacking Midfielder/Playmaker (AM)
  11. Left Midfielder/Winger (LM)

These positions used in youth soccer are similar to those used at all game levels. However, the positions of players in youth soccer change depending on how many players are on the field at one time.

At a professional level, there are eleven players on a soccer team. Youth soccer games are often played with 6, 7, 8, or 9 players on each soccer team, depending on the player’s age.

Throughout this article, we’ll look at the player’s positions in youth soccer games that are played with 6v6, 7v7, 8v8, 9v9, and 11v11. We’ll look at the most used formations, and each section also contains a clear diagram displaying these positions in visual form.

But first, let’s quickly look at how the positions on the soccer field relate to the number of each player wears on their back.

The Number on the Soccer Jersey Relates to the Position

Soccer jersey in youth soccer

As you watch soccer, I’m sure you will have noticed that each player on the soccer field plays with a unique number displayed on the back of their jersey.

As shown in the list of soccer positions above, each position has a specific number associated with it.

The interesting thing is that within the rules of soccer, there is no requirement for a player to
wear any specific number at all. (Although they do have to display a unique number so the referee can easily identify them.)

Because of this, as you watch a game, you may see a player playing in defense wearing a number 8 or a player playing in midfield wearing a number 32.

The reality is that the actual number displayed on a jersey does not have as much importance in modern soccer as it traditionally had.


On a side note, if you’re looking to purchase a new soccer jersey anytime soon, I would encourage you to
check out the range at soccer.com. The price of the jerseys includes a number and name of your choice printed on the back.

It’s important to know that the numbers used at the start of this article relate to a game where each team is fielding 11 players. Yet, because of the nature of youth soccer, it’s often the case that there are fewer players than 11 on
each team.

Youth players often don’t have the capacity to run for as long or as far as older players. And to compensate for this, the field they play on is often considerably smaller than a full-size field, and the game time considerably
shorter.

The number of players most commonly used in a youth soccer game is 6v6, 7v7, 8v8, or 9v9. But in games featuring older youth players, you will still see 11v11 is still used.

Despite the limited capacity of youth players, and an example of how skilled and exciting to watch a youth soccer game can be, check out this video below of an incredibly talented 10-year-old soccer player.

Soccer Positions Create Formations

soccer formation players

You also can’t talk about soccer positions without talking about soccer formations. This is because a player’s position on a soccer field creates what is known as a soccer formation.

In soccer, a formation is an overall picture of where the players are positioned on the field.

For example, in an 11-a-side soccer game, you will often hear people talk about formations such as 4-4-2, 4-3-3, or even 5-4-1. These groups of numbers relate to the position of each player on the field.

To clarify this, let me explain this a bit further…

The numbers in a formation start from defense and work their way forward through the midfield, and end with the forwards.

In the example of the formation “4-4-2”, the first number 4 refers to the group of defenders, the second number 4 refers to the midfielders, and the
last number, the number 2, refers to the forwards.

Each number indicates how many players are playing in that position on the field.

Again using the 4-4-2 example, this means that there would be 4 players in defense, 4 players in midfield, and 2 playing offense. In a 4-3-3 formation, there would be
4 players in defense, 3 in midfield, and three players positioned in the offense.

You may have also noticed that whenever formations are listed, there is always one number less than the total amount of players on a team. The reason for this is that the goalie is never included in the number in
formations.

Instead of putting a number “1” in front of every single formation, it is simply assumed that a goalie is on the field as part of the team.

This can be safely assumed because, in soccer, it is a requirement that a goalie is a part of every team and is present on the field at all times. As it is also the case that there is only ever one goalie on the field for a
the team at any time, and they always play in the position directly in front of the goal.


If you want to know more about the requirements for a soccer goalkeeper, check out the article I wrote explaining the eight rules every goalie must follow. Or this article is about whether or not you can pull the goalie in a soccer game.

Youth Soccer Positions: Including Diagrams and Formations

Now we’ve established what the position numbers on a player’s jersey refer to and how formations are a key part of understanding soccer positions, let’s look in more detail at the positions used in youth soccer.

As mentioned above, in youth soccer, various positions are used depending on how many players are on the field at any time.

At a professional level, there are eleven positions in soccer. These positions cover the soccer field from the front to the back. In youth soccer, there may be 6, 7, 8, or 9 positions depending on the age of the players in the game.

Below you will find positions, numbers, player roles, and formations for games of 6v6, 7v7, 8v8, 9v9, and 11v11.

Youth soccer positions: 6v6

youth soccer position diagram 6v6 Soccer positions for 6v6 youth game
Goalie – Orange / Defenders – Red / Midfielders – Blue / Forwards – White

In a 6v6 youth soccer game, the most commonly used formation you see used is a 2-2-1 setup. (Remember that the goalie isn’t included in the numbers when formations are discussed.)

As you can see in the image above, the players are positioned with two in defense, two in midfield, and one in the offense.

These positions on the field allow the team to maintain a strong defense and midfield while still having a focal point for the offense.

Although in a 6v6 soccer game, the field size is usually small, there is still a lot of space for each player to cover, and having the players positioned this way allows them to effectively cover the field.

6v6 youth soccer position and numbers

The positions and numbers for the players in a 6v6 youth soccer game are:

  1. Goalkeeper
  2. Right side defender
  3. Left side defender
  4. Right-side midfielder
  5. Left side midfielder
  6. Striker

Youth soccer positions: 7v7

youth soccer position diagram 7v7
Soccer positions for 7v7 youth game
Goalie – Orange / Defenders – Red / Midfielders – Blue / Forwards – White

The recommendation for the U9 and U10 age groups is that they play in soccer games of 7v7 players.

The most popular setup for a 7v7 soccer game is with a formation of 2-3-1.

As you can see in the image above, players are positioned with two players in defense, three in midfield, and one striker.

With the players in these positions, the midfield is the strongest part of the team. This is important as the center of the field is where most of the action happens.

Having three players in midfield gives the team enough numbers to drop back, support the defense when needed, and move forward and support the offense as needed.

7v7 youth soccer position and numbers

The positions and numbers for the players in a 7v7 youth soccer game are:

  1. Goalkeeper
  2. Right side defender
  3. Left side defender
  4. Central midfielder
  5. Left side midfielder
  6. Right side midfielder
  7. Striker

Youth soccer positions: 8v8

youth soccer position diagram 8v8
Soccer positions for 8v8 youth game
Goalie – Orange / Defenders – Red / Midfielders – Blue / Forwards – White

In a youth soccer game of 8v8, one of the more familiar formations that you will see players positioned in is a 3-3-1.

This formation has three defensive players, three midfield players, and one striker.

In this formation, the team has a strong defensive foundation and a strong midfield. The numbers of players in both these areas provide enough cover for the team when the ball is in that part of the field.

Having the players in these positions allows them to move forward and back to support the defensive or offense as needed.

A defender or midfielder can move forward to support the team and still leave two players covering behind them, or a midfielder can move back to support the defense and confidently leave two players positioned in midfield covering there
if needed.

8v8 youth soccer position and numbers

The positions and numbers for the players in an 8v8 youth soccer game are:

  1. Goalkeeper
  2. Right side defender
  3. Left side defender
  4. Central defender
  5. Left side midfielder
  6. Central midfielder
  7. Right side midfielder
  8. Striker

Youth soccer positions: 9v9

youth soccer position diagram for 9v9 Soccer positions for 9v9 youth game
Goalie – Orange / Defenders – Red / Midfielders – Blue / Forwards – White

The recommendation for the under 11 and under 12 age groups is that they play soccer games of 9v9 players.

In a soccer game of 9v9, you will usually see players positioned in a formation of 3-3-2.

Three players on defense, three in midfield, and two players playing offense.

Having nine players on the field means there are now enough players to play two in the offense position rather than only one while maintaining the strength of the defensive and midfield.

Having this extra player in an offensive position also means the team has an extra player in a position to score when the opportunity comes up. And every team hopes that this extra player translates into more goals!

9v9 youth soccer position and numbers

The positions and numbers for the players in a 9v9 youth soccer game are:

  1. Goalkeeper
  2. Right side defender
  3. Left side defender
  4. Central defender
  5. Left side midfielder
  6. Central midfielder
  7. Right side midfielder
  8. Center forward
  9. Striker/playmaker

Youth soccer positions: 11v11

youth soccer position diagram - 11v11 Soccer positions for 11v11 youth game Goalie – Orange / Defenders – Red / Midfielders – Blue / Forwards – White

Once a youth soccer team gets to the stage where they are playing 11v11, the position of the players on the field becomes very similar to how the players are positioned in a pro-level soccer game.

In 11v11 soccer one of the most long-standing and most often used formations is 4-4-2.[source]

This formation has four players on defense, 4 in the midfield, and two up front.

Having the players in these positions provides a strong line of defense and midfield. The players can quickly cover all the areas and move forward and back as needed.

It also allows for two players in the main attacking positions. Often one of these players will play slightly further back than the other. Positioned just in front of the midfield, they act as a playmaker and a link between the midfield
and forwards.

11v11 youth soccer position and numbers

The positions and numbers for the players in a 11v11 youth soccer game are:

  1. Goalkeeper
  2. Right back
  3. Left-back
  4. Right side Center Back
  5. Left side Center Back
  6. Defensive Midfielder
  7. Right Midfielder/Winger
  8. Central Midfielder
  9. Striker/Center forward
  10. Playmaker
  11. Left Midfielder/Winger

Conclusion and Recommendations

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the players’ positions in youth soccer.

If you, or someone you know, are looking to dramatically improve your soccer abilities in a short space of time, I want to quickly recommend two online soccer training programs to you.