Click here for a short YouTube video on 5v5 and 6v6.
The biggest change in moving to games larger then 4v4 is in how to use all those other players. We'll examine some of the problems by looking at what happens by adding one player on the field which could represent 5v5 or, if a goal keeper is included, 6v6.
Tasks As A Starting Point
In 4v4 all of the basic tasks are covered. In terms of the principles of play and responsibilities no other player's are needed. This means that the extra player will have to duplicate one or more of the others players tasks. Duplication brings problems as well as solutions as every player must adjust their playing to accommodate the extra player. If the extra player will be used primarily as an attacker this will limit the space for the midfielders to move into. If the extra player will be used as a defender this can cause some confusion about who has what responsibility for the dominant role in the center of the defense. Trying to build an actual "midfield" can also cause problems. Moving from the diamond of 4v4 to a 2-2-1 or a 2-1-2 leaves the team with the problem of who will provide width in attack. Also there is the real possibility that the field is not long enough to support the idea of three "real" lines. The distance between the back two players and the top player(s) might be so close that the "midfielder(s)" simply get in the way.
The first consideration for the team is to decide how they'll play the game. This means choosing a team strategy of playing counter attacking or play making soccer. In the diagram at right the orange team has opted to play the conservative, counter attacking game while the blue team is using the more aggressive play making style. The blue team is playing with the idea that they will have a lot of ball possession and will be able to play far out from their goal. Orange is in agreement and is playing cautiously, looking for the quick break. Orange will be content to concede over half of the field and allow the blues to keep the ball in order to stay compact and reduce space close to their own goal.
Orange is able to play a more conservative game because they have elected to use their extra player up top in an attacking role. This has reduced the space that the midfielders, numbers 2 & 4, have to move into. They will have fewer opportunities to go forward and this allows them to concentrate more on their defensive tasks. For the orange team the midfielders will supply the width in the attack. Since they will be deep in their own area, width will serve as a way to relieve pressure and not as much as an attacking principle, a trade mark of counter attacking soccer.
Blue has used their extra man in the back and this has pushed their midfielders, numbers 5 & 7 forward. With the extra player duplicating the sweepers role the midfielders are freer to go forward and concentrate on their attacking tasks. They can try to stretch the orange team across the field or turn the flanks by going outside their immediate opponent. Three forwards are a necessity in play making soccer.
In both examples, the addition of one player has had an effect on every player on the field. The tasks of 4v4 have to be modified in 5v5, or 6v6.