4v2 Width & Depth
Width and depth in soccer refer to the strategic use of the entire field to control the game. Width involves spreading the play across the whole width of the field, forcing the opposition to stretch their defense and creating spaces to exploit. This typically involves using the fullbacks and wingers to stretch the play.Depth is about utilizing the length of the field, both in defense and attack.
Activity & Set Up
Playing a 4v2 game is an excellent way to teach these principles. The team of four has a numerical advantage, which they must exploit by using the entire field. This setup encourages players to spread out, creating width and depth. The two players, being outnumbered, must learn to anticipate and cover more space, understanding the importance of positioning in both offensive and defensive situations. Every 5 minutes, rotate two players from the team of four with the two players from the team of two. This ensures everyone experiences playing with and against a numerical advantage/disadvantage.
Positioning in 4v2 to Achieve Width & Depth
Two Wide Players: Positioned on either side of the pitch, they provide width. Their role is to stretch the defense and create passing lanes.
One Deep Player: Positioned closer to their own goal or in a deeper midfield role, offering a safe passing option and helping to recycle possession.
One Advanced Player: Positioned further up the pitch to provide depth. This player can act as a target for forward passes or to exploit spaces behind the defenders.
Variations & Progressions
Instruct players to use the full width of the pitch. Wide players should stay close to the touchlines until they have the ball then they should have freedom to move where they need to with the ball.
Horizontal movement refers to players shifting side to side across the field. This is particularly effective in stretching the opposition’s defensive line and creating gaps that can be exploited.
- Imagine your team is attacking. Your right winger, with the ball, is being closely marked. Your central midfielder, positioned centrally, sees this and makes a horizontal run towards the right touchline. This movement draws one of the opposing midfielders with them, creating more space in the central area of the pitch. Now, the central attacking player or the striker has more room to receive a pass or make a run, thanks to the space created by the midfielder’s sideways movement.
Vertical movement involves players moving up and down the field. This can be used to either offer support for a forward play or to drop back and provide a safer passing option.
- Your team has just regained possession in your half. Your central defender has the ball but is under pressure. One of your midfielders, who initially is in a more advanced position, notices this and makes a backward (vertical) movement towards your defender. This action provides an immediate passing option. Simultaneously, another midfielder moves forward, drawing an opponent with them, thereby opening up a passing lane to the midfielder who just dropped back. This movement not only provides a safe outlet for the defender but also starts to draw the opposition out, creating space further up the field.
Instruct players that as soon as their team gains possession of the ball, they should immediately move to create width and depth. This includes wide players moving towards the sidelines to stretch the defense and a player dropping deeper to offer a safe backward pass, while another moves forward to create attacking depth.
During natural stoppages in the game, such as when the ball goes out of play, take these moments to reinforce the concept of width and depth. Remind players that these stoppages are opportunities to reposition themselves appropriately. For example, you can say, “When we restart, let’s get wide and deep quickly. Wingers, stretch out to the touchlines and center forward, push up to create space in the middle.”