Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
The importance of playing 'out of position'
by Alex Kos, February 12th, 2010 1:30PM



By Alex Kos

A friend reminded me the other day of an old soccer saying. It goes something like, “Good forwards make the best defenders and good defenders make the best forwards.” There is a lot of truth to this saying.

Any good forward is always trying to figure out how to get the upper-hand on the defense. Over time, forwards have learned plenty of tricks to help them beat defenders. Now imagine that same forward playing defense. He or she, knowing many of the offensive strategies and tricks, will instinctively know how to deal with them.

For example, he or she is unlikely to get caught directly behind a forward where an accidental bump or a dreaded phantom touch will send the forward crashing to the ground, resulting in a free kick, penalty, and possible expulsion.

The same is true of defenders. Deficiencies a defensive player may have are most likely shared by other defenders. In addition, a good defender should know how certain defensive formations can be exploited. Equipped with this knowledge will give a defender playing forward a tremendous advantage over the other team. Who is best equipped to beat an offside trap than a player who has been employing the trap for years?

Players, you should view "playing out-of-position" as a great opportunity.

First of all, you will surprise yourself at how well you do, I promise. Secondly, by playing other positions, you will become a better, more well-rounded soccer player. Also, you will develop an appreciation for other positions, especially when you have to play keeper. If your coach has not offered you this opportunity, ask.

At some point in your career, perhaps during a tryout with another team, you are going to be asked to play other positions. That I can also promise.

Coaches, how often have you surprised yourself when a player exceeds all expectations at a position you knew he or she would not and could not play? It happens all the time.

As a youth coach, I strongly encourage you to play your kids in all positions. The worst thing a coach can do to a young player is pigeon-hole him or her to one position. With older players who may be labeled as a good forward, defender, or goalkeeper, or who have stated that they only play one position, switch them around.

Although you are likely to hear plenty of complaints and even receive a few parent phone calls, give it a shot. It will make those players and your team better.

(Alex Kos' experiences as a player, coach, referee, parent and fan are shared in his blog, Improving Soccer in the United States, where this article first appeared.)

  1. Jimmy Couch
    commented on: February 13, 2010 at 10:35 p.m.
    You have a lot of things right, but the title is wrong! Have the coach try you at another position, Not the importance of!! Getting out of position happens, but if you leave our team mates hanging because you are not in position. Your in the wrong. Kids need to learn all positions, even keeper. This teaches them the whole game, what should and should not be done. I agree to disagree only with the title.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Reffing Futsal (Part 1): Calling and counting fouls     
Futsal has been growing rapidly in the USA as it's a wonderful player development tool. But ...
'Fun, friends and health' is what youth soccer should be about (Q&A Shannon Higgins-Cirovski)    
After starting for the USA when it won the inaugural Women's World Cup on 1991, Shannon ...
After Concussion: Don't Just See A Doctor, Be Sure To See The Right Doctor    
Much has been written about concussion in young athletes but today I want to devote a ...
Ref Watch: How the last game of the season can present unique challenges    
I'm a positive thinker. But all the positive-thinking in the world cannot erase the fact that ...
Brain expert explains the wisdom of USSF's heading policy for youngsters     
Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the USA's leading experts on concussions in sports, responded to some ...
The border tug of war: Mexico courting U.S. talent is a 'good sign'    
In 1998, the Mexican government changed its laws to allow dual citizenship, thus enabling U.S.-born Mexican-Americans ...
Heading ban for 10-year-olds and younger makes sense, but important concussion questions remain    
In recent years, new science has provided clearer information on the dangers of concussions and studies ...
Stop interrupting: Substitute sensibly     
Part of this I found amusing as I reffed 8-year-old boys whose coach had them wear ...
College Choice: Taking the right steps makes the process more enjoyable    
Selecting the right college can be frustrating, and even cause anxiety for many families. Many kids ...
Throw-ins: What refs get wrong and what coaches can do right     
What rule do refs in the youth game tend to get wrong most often?
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives