In youth soccer, I believe that too much emphasis is placed on systems of play. Actually, the only system is to have 11 players working with and for each other. To try to make your teammate the best player on the field will, in turn, make you a good player.
Obviously, we must have defenders, midfielders and forwards. How many and how we deploy these players is an important factor, but the team must have balance.
When a goal has been conceded, it is generally because of a defender's basic mistake or because of an outstanding offensive play, not because the team plays 4-3-3 or 4-2-4.
I cannot stress enough the importance of working on the skills of the game. Pele was still learning even in the twilight of his career. Reminders to Goalkeepers
Keep your eyes on the ball at all times (Diagram 1). On distribution do not deliver the ball to a teammate when it immediately will put him under pressure. Talk repeatedly to your defense. You have a clear view of many developing situations. Advise accordingly. Defenders
Your prime duty is to prevent goals. On man-to-man marking, do not allow your opponent to turn on you with the ball.
Support your teammates. There are times when covering space becomes more important than covering your opponent (Diagram 2). Do not sell yourself by an untimely tackle. Be composed. Keep yourself between your opponent and the goal. Defenders need to be quick and aggressive with two reliable feet. Forwards
Speed and quickness are essential. Do a lot of centering of the ball on the run. Dribbling past opponents in a confined space can be improved by playing small-sided grid games. Wingers are expected to score goals, so practice varied shooting plays, using both feet (Diagram 3). A winger should position himself at the far post to capitalize on crosses coming over from the opposite flank. Strikers
This is the most difficult position to play, one that involves more bodily contact than any other. Therefore, strength, balance and timing are essentials. A striker must be aggressive to score goals. A good striker should be able to score goals from difficult situations. The ability to shoot quickly and accurately requires constant practice. Power shooting can be developed, but a ball struck with 80 percent power, generally, has more accuracy than a ball struck with 100 percent.
A striker has limited space to work in, so use it intelligently. Time your movements; don't fill space too early and be ready to snap up any rebounds to convert them into goals. Coach
The tactical side of the game calls for common sense. We coaches must take our share of the blame for the confusion we sometimes see on the field. Work on the basics and you are on the right track. Try to allow the players to express themselves. It's a game of creativity. Players
You will not get enjoyment from the game unless you are relatively proficient with skills. The better they are, the better you will be.