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Youth Soccer Players: By Position

There are eleven players per side in soccer, a goalie and ten in the field playing a number of different basic positions (forward, midfield and defense) in a variety of different formations.


Forwards are sometimes called strikers and attackers. Forwards are positioned closest to the opposing team's goal, hence, they score the majority of goals in soccer. Most teams have two strikers. Usually one forward stays just behind the last defender (i.e. in an on-side position), while the other forward is stationed to assist, as well as score. There are three types of forwards:

  • Center Forward: The center forward typically scores the most goals on a team. Center forwards receive the majority of assists from midfield and from cross passes.
  • Second Forward: Second forwards, also called supporting or second strikers, are forwards that play almost as both a midfielder and forward, in that they can perform both roles when necessary.
  • Wingers: Wings are usually quick forwards or midfielders who position themselves to the outside, closer to the sidelines, and either attack goal from the outside or make centering passes or "crosses" to the center forward or striker in front of goal.


Defensive Midfielder

A defensive midfielder is a player who is stationed in front of the team's defenders, reducing the ability of the opposing team's attack. A Defensive midfielder's role is to strip the ball from the opposing team and pass to ("link up with") attacking midfielders or forwards.

Center Midfielder

Center midfielders play one of the most important positions in soccer. They are often the most versatile and creative players on the team, able to score a goal, defend and make accurate passes.

Attacking Midfielder

Attacking midfielders are positioned farther towards the opponent's goal and assist the forwards in attacking in the offensive third of the field..


Most teams have four defenders: two central defenders and two outside defenders or fullbacks.

Central Defenders

The center back, or stopper, is positioned in the center of the defense, and is responsible for stopping opposing players, especially forwards, from scoring, and for kicking the ball out of their team's penalty area. There are usually two central defenders positioned in front of the goalkeeper. Stoppers play either zone or man to man defense.


Sweepers are defenders that are responsible for "sweeping" the ball from the opposing team when close to their own goal.

Outside Defenders/Full Backs

Full Backs play in the two outside positions of the defensive line and are responsible for guarding or "marking" offensive players attacking from the wings. Their job is keep players from cutting inside to attack the goal and from cutting off passes or "crosses" by wing players feeding strikers in the penalty area for shots on goal.

Wing Back

Wing Backs are full backs that also go on the offensive on the wings, meaning they are likely to run more than any other player.


The goalkeeper is the last player in the defensive line.

Goalkeepers are the only players allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms. All teams must have a goalkeeper on the field at all times.