Football Formations suitable for amateur teams

by Pablo M25th Jul 2023

Football is the world sport because of its easy access and simple rules. However, when friends take it seriously and register for a competition, things become more complex. A key aspect to consider is which football formations will suit your team. This post will help you understand what makes a formation easy to implement and can enhance your players’ game.

If you are looking for a quick answer, the most suitable football formations for amateur teams are 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and 4-5-1. What why? There is no point in you implementing one of these formations and then not following the principles behind them. Read along to understand what makes these formations easy to implement and what to look for in a football formation you decide to use with your friends.

What to look for in a formation?

Several factors should be considered when looking for a formation that is easy to implement, especially for amateur or beginner players. Depending on how competitive the league you play is, the experience and skill of your players will range from low to high. So, if you have many players with little experience playing 11 aside or limited skills, you want to keep the formation simple and easy to understand by everyone in the team.

Even if you have experienced players, you may need to keep things simple. For example, if your team cannot train between games or you struggle to have numbers to run good training sessions.

Therefore, the football formation you choose must combine the following attributes.  

Clear Structure

The formation should have a clear and straightforward structure, making it easy for players to understand their positions and roles on the field. A formation with distinct lines (defenders, midfielders, forwards) helps players maintain their positions and reduces confusion.

Limited Tactical Complexity

Avoid formations with too many tactical intricacies, especially for beginners. Complex formations can overwhelm players and hinder their ability to focus on the fundamentals of the game. Simplicity allows players to grasp the basic concepts and gradually build upon them.

Balanced Defense and Attack

An easy-to-implement formation should strike a balance between defensive stability and attacking potential. Formations heavily skewed towards one aspect of the game often require players to switch roles in the middle of the game. For example, a 3-5-2 requires midfielders to drop back to play as full-backs when the team is defending.

Defined Roles

Each player’s role in the formation should be well-defined and easily understood. This clarity helps players know what is expected of them, defensively and offensively. A typical example is the Central Defensive Midfielder (CDM) role. It is a complex position with many responsibilities. While you may be lucky enough to recruit a player who understands it, their teammates may be unable to coordinate their moves around this position.


While Simplicity is essential, some level of flexibility is beneficial. The formation should allow for minor adjustments and adaptations based on the game’s flow or the opposing team’s strengths and weaknesses.

Player Comfort

Consider the skills and strengths of the players in the team. Choose a formation that complements their abilities and allows them to play to their strengths, boosting their confidence and enjoyment of the game.

Effective Communication

The formation should encourage effective Communication among players on the field. Easy-to-understand positioning and roles facilitate Communication and teamwork.


Look for a formation that enables smooth transitioning between defensive and offensive phases of the game. Quick transitions are crucial in modern football and help players develop tactical understanding.

Minimal Positional Changes

For beginner players, formations that require minimal positional changes during the game are preferable. Constantly changing positions can be confusing for newcomers to the sport. For example, as mentioned above, a 3-5-2 formation requires switching responsibilities during a game.

Practical Training.

The formation should be conducive to practical training sessions. Coaches should be able to effectively demonstrate and teach the principles of the formation during practices. In this sense, choosing a shape that professionals widely use make it easy to find and share videos available online that analyse the basics.

The simplicity of a 4 players defensive line

If it is more important to have a good attack or a defence is a discussion as old as football. However, most coaches will agree that a solid defence is the basis of any good team in modern football. If you have an awful defence, even the best forwards in the world will never touch the ball. You first need to regain control of the ball to create; thus, you need a good defensive structure. Of course, if you have awful midfielders and forwards, you will never score, but at least you can draw or even win at penalties in a play-off. You can find a good discussion on this topic here: A good team is built from the back

So, if building from the back is key, you need to find a formation that uses a simple defensive structure and is easy to organise. This is particularly important when considering how difficult it can be for beginners to play with the offside rule. All these considerations make playing with four defenders easier; therefore, 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 formations are ideal for amateur teams.

Four defenders provide balanced support for each other. Centre-backs can cover the central areas of the defence, while full-backs offer support on the flanks. This balanced defensive structure makes it harder for opponents to exploit the wide areas or the central spaces.

In addition, compared to football formations with three centre-backs and two wing-backs, a back four simplifies the roles of full-backs. They can focus on defensive duties and providing width in the attack without navigating a more demanding wing-back role.

Finally, the 4-defender system is one of football’s most common defensive formations worldwide. As such, players are more likely to be familiar with it, making it easier to implement, especially for amateur or beginner teams.

In conclusion, 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 are the preferred formations for amateur teams with players of limited experience or little time training together. We will discuss the pros and cons of these formations in follow-up posts.