The following posts have been tagged with "soccer sweeper"...

Soccer Sweeper


(abb. “SW”). A fast & tough player who usually plays just behind the fullbacks, although he is allowed to roam. His job is to cover the space between the fullbacks & the goalkeeper & to stop “breakaways” & “sweep up” the ball or kick long “through balls” out of bounds so the defense has time to recover. Using a sweeper increases your “depth” & field coverage and therefore allows your fullbacks to push up to support your attack. A Sweeper is like a free safety in American football. A good sweeper must be fast & willing to make contact to steal the ball. A Sweeper can be like a coach on the field and can help direct adjustments, since he is usually the deepest field player and in a good position to view the game. The trend with pro teams is to not use a Sweeper but instead to use a “flatback four”, which is 4 Fullbacks playing a zone defense and using a lot of “offside traps”. A Sweeper was originally used to back up man-to-man defenses. However, using a Sweeper can also be used with a “Zone Defense” (i.e., “Spatial Defense”). A great Sweeper who has speed and great coverage skills can allow your Fullbacks to push up to support your attack, even if they aren’t fast, because he will slow down the attack and give your Fullbacks time to recover. However, if you don’t have a great Sweeper, a better alternative for most recreational teams is to use a 3-2-2-3 formation where the FB’s stay deep, as described in “Formations”. (See “Push Up“, “Formations“, “Through Ball“, “Breakaway“, “Second Sweeper“, “Support“, “Cover“, “Defending Deep” & “Zone Defense“).


Soccer SW


Abbreviation for Sweeper. (See “Sweeper“).


Soccer Push Up


Read “Should You Push Up When You Attack’ Or Should You Defend Deep’” The term “push up” refers to fullbacks or midfielders moving forward toward the halfway line. In certain formations and if your soccer team has speed and stamina, you should “push up” when you attack or any time the soccer ball is near the other team’s Penalty Box, even if the other team has the soccer ball, so you can support your attack or put pressure on the soccer ball. To build an attack (especially on a large field) it is an advantage to have everyone, including the defenders, shift with the soccer ball. This allows your soccer team to keep “shape” so there is “support”. Moving the fullbacks up also has the advantage of keeping the other soccer team away from your goal because they will be “offside” if they go past the last defender before the soccer ball passes him. This keeps the attackers out of scoring range, but defenders must be quick to fall back if the soccer ball gets past them. This is why some soccer teams use a “Sweeper”. A Sweeper is a very fast soccer player with good endurance who is not afraid to make contact to stop the soccer ball & clear it. The Sweeper will play slightly behind the fullbacks or as a Center Fullback with a “Stopper’ in front of him. (The Stopper doesn’t have to be as fast, but must be tough and able to stop the ball). The Sweeper will run down any through balls or breakaways and kick the soccer ball out of bounds over the side line to slow down the other soccer team’s attack so your soccer team will have time to recover. If your fullbacks are slow and you want to push them up when you attack, consider using a Sweeper. Another alternative is a 3-2-2-3 formation, as described in “Formations” and “Attacking Plan”.

Once a soccer team is “pushed up”, the FB’s won’t automatically fall back when they lose the soccer ball but may stay pushed up to apply pressure & try to steal the soccer ball back. This is kind of like a defensive “press” in basketball & it is hard to dribble thru these FB’s when they are pushed up. The way to break thru & beat the “press” is by playing “through balls“, “give & go’s” & “passing to yourself“. If your opponent’s FB’s are pushed up, it creates the opportunity for a fastbreak counterattack. In recreational soccer it is best to not push up if you play on a long field and the other soccer teams Forwards are faster than your Fullbacks. An alternative is to use a formation that creates more depth, such as a 3-2-3-2 and to “defend deep”. This is described in detail in “Formations” and “Attacking Plan”. (See “Attacking Plan“, “High Line“, “Last Defender“, “Through Ball” “Pass To Yourself“, “Give & Go“, “Formations“, “Defending Deep“, “Styles of Play“, “Sweeper“, “Stopper” & “Defending to Win“).


Soccer Positions


See “Forwards” (F), “Fullbacks” (FB), “Midfielders” (MF), “Goalkeeper” (GK), and “Stopper” (S) & “Sweeper” (SW). LF is Left F, CF is Center F, RF is Right F, etc. In designating soccer positions, as you face the other team’s goal, Right (e.g., RMF) is to your right. (See “Formations“, “Small Sided“, “Number of Players” & “Zone Defense“).


Soccer Long Ball


A soccer ball that is kicked “long”. This usually refers to a long ball from the FB’s to open space or to an air ball that is sent between the FB’s & the goalkeeper. (e.g., “send a long ball”). (See “Through Ball“, “Sweeper“, “Over The Top“, & “Push Up“).


Soccer Libero


The Italian term for “free player”. Usually refers to the “Sweeper”, but also can refer to a star player who is allowed to roam and play in the rear or front as he sees fit. (See “Sweeper“).


Soccer Formations



(See “How To Teach Soccer Formations” at SoccerHelp Premium for how to teach Formations.) Does your team give up goals on breakaways, have trouble playing good offense or defense in the midfield, or not score enough goals’ The problem may be that you are trying to make your team fit a formation and style of play instead of using a soccer formation and style of play that fits your team. The formations that work for Select or Travel teams usually don’t work well for Rec teams. Rec coaches usually don’t have the time to teach complex systems of play, and complex formations and styles of play can cause players to become hesitant and frustrated. The easiest thing you can do to cause a huge improvement in your team’s play is to change to a simplified, easy-to-teach formation and style of play that gives your team the best chance of being successful. SoccerHelp Premium explains how to choose and teach simplified Formations that are easy to teach and really work for Recreational teams. The soccer formations and style of play explained in “Attacking Plan“, “Scoring More Goals”, “Quick Team Improvement Program” and “Formations” on Soccerhelp Premium will not only result in your Rec team winning more games, but your team will play better, have more fun, and players and coaches will gain a better understanding of the game. For example, Coach Scott, a Texas USA U-13 Boys coach, had only won 1 game of the past 20, but switched to a 3-2-2-3 formation and style of play as explained in Premium and went 6-2-2 (6 wins with basically the same team) and finished in second place. And Coach Lisa’s U-11 Girls team (also of Texas USA) switched to a 3-2-2-3, and doubled their goal production (from an average of 2 to 4 per game). The great thing about both these cases is that it only took a few practices to see the results.

If your team is younger than 10, you don’t need to worry much about soccer formations, but for ages 10 and older the formation you use can have a great deal to do with your team’s success. Your “formation” determines how many players you have at FB (Fullback), MF (Midfielder) & F (Forward). The purpose of having a “formation” is to ensure “support”, “depth”, “width” & field coverage on both offense & defense. Players are assigned a position & with it comes responsibilities. For example, a right side player (whether a RF, RMF or RFB) should not be way over on the left side of the field. (Right and left are as you face the other team’s goal). If he is, then he has left a hole that is not covered. Each player must do his job and trust his teammates to do theirs; that is what makes a good “team”. There are many different formations, but in all (unless you are playing 3 vs 3 or 4 vs 4) you will have F’s, MF’s, FB’s & a goalkeeper. You may hear about a 4-4-2, a 4-3-3, or a 1-3-3-3 formation. These numbers never include the goalkeeper but always start with the player closest to the goalkeeper. Thus, a 4-4-2 would be 4 FB’s, 4 MF’s & 2 F’s, a 1-3-3-3 would be a “Sweeper”, 3 FB’s, 3 MF’s & 3 F’s, and a 3-1-3-3 would be 3 FB’s, a “Stopper”, 3 MF’s and 3 F’s. (These assume 11 players on the team. For smaller sized teams adjust accordingly).

The formation you choose should be based on:

  1. The ability of your players.
  • Your players speed and endurance.
  • The number of substitutes you have.
  • The length of the field.
  • The other team’s strengths and weaknesses.

  • Soccer Breakaway


    A soccer fast break where one or more attackers get behind the defenders so that only the other team’s goalkeeper is between them & the goal. Soccer Breakaway’s often happen because a defense is “pushed up” & “flat” (i.e., has no “depth”), which makes it vulnerable to “through balls”. The “Sweepers” job (if you use a Sweeper) is to stop breakaways by kicking the ball out of bounds. In recreational soccer, a good strategy for stopping the other soccer team’s fast break is to teach your FB’s to kick the ball out of bounds. This will give your FB’s & MF’s time to “sag” back to defend their goal. A “sagging” defense with “depth” prevents breakaways by having multiple layers of defenders in position to slow down the attack. On 1 vs. 1 breakaways, the defending goalkeeper should come out of the goal toward the ball in order to reduce the shooting angle. He should do this when the soccer shooter gets within shooting range & once he starts he must run quickly toward the shooter & cannot stop or turn back; if he does, the shooter will probably score. (See ““, “Formations” (3-2-2-3), “Push Up“, “Styles of Play – Soccer“, “Through Soccer Ball“, “Sweeper“, “Last Soccer Defender“, “Soccer Zone Defense” & “Soccer Goalkeeper“).