Soccer Positions Numbers And Roles – Parents Guide

A lot of new soccer parents might wonder about the soccer positions,  numbers, and roles that their kids are playing in their team. In this post, I am going to discuss how jersey numbers are associated with field positions.

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The Importance Of Numbers

Known as squad numbers they identify the player and the role of the position in the 11-man squad.

Nowadays these numbers don’t have much significance as team tactics changed over time.

Team positions do not follow any guidelines at all as they can increase or reduce the number of defenders and midfielders during the match as a game strategy.

Some players prefer to wear their favorite numbers instead of following the squad numbers.

Me, I have always worn the number 4 ever since I was a kid because this number appeared twice on my birthday date and not because I played as a right defender.

A lot of players and kids like to wear the number 10 because a lot of popular soccer stars like Pele of Brazil and Lionel Messi of Barcelona FC wear it.

However, in professional soccer changing numbers is not that easy due to Football/Soccer Association and club rules.

And they still use these numbers to indicate positions and roles.

There are basically 5 player positions in the team regardless if it is a team of 11 players or a 9-a-side kids team.

The following is the traditional numbering system used to identify the position and an 11 a-side line up of the players:

The Soccer Position And Their Numbering

The general line up of an 11 a-side soccer team
The General Line Up Of An 11 A-Side Soccer Team

Striker – No. 9

A Boy Wearing Shin Guards

The striker is the player who is playing up at the front scoring goals for the team.

Strikers are quick runners and skillful in ball dribbling and can shoot the ball accurately from any direction.

They can receive ball crossing with their feet and head and direct it into the goal.

They can think and act quickly and strike when the goalkeeper least expects them to.

With the help of the wingers and midfielders, the striker can engage them to get around the opponent’s defenders and beat the off-side trap to score.

Strikers normally stay around the opponent’s goal area but are also careful not to be caught off-side.

Wingers – No. 7 & 11

Wingers, also known as flankers also play alongside the striker, but they are positioned to the far left and right of the striker.

They receive the passes from the midfielders and the defenders and run along the sideline deep into the opponent’s territory before crossing the ball to the striker to score.

Their role is to pull the opponent’s defenders to themselves leaving or her striker free to receive the cross ball and score. The wingers can also score goals.

They can retreat and assist the defense when the team is under pressure from a counter-attack.

Wingers need to be fast runners with skill in ball control and be able to strike when they can find the opportunity.

Midfielders – No. 6, 8, & 10

Lionel_Messi wearing number 10
Lionel Messi wearing number 10

The midfielders control the game and have a choice to push the ball through to either the striker or to the wingers on the sides.

They can kick the ball with either their left or right foot and needs to think fast and pass the ball accurately.

The Midfielder can also score goals when the opportunity arises and can also act as the first line of defense when the opposing team counter-attacks.

The midfielder is the player who has the ball most of the time and decides whether to slow down the game or step up the pressure.

Most midfielders are team captains because they are strong leaders who can talk to their players and give orders.

Defenders – No. 2, 3, 4, & 5

soccer kid number 4

The defenders are positioned around the team’s goal protecting the goalkeeper.

They defend the goal area and stop the opposing striker from trying to score.

They are strong and aggressive players who can tackle the ball away from the opponent and can use their body weight to contest for the ball.

They do not dribble a lot but they need ball control skills and be able to pass accurately to the midfield and the winger or back to their goalkeeper.

They are also powerful headers who head the ball away and have strong legs to kick the ball out of the goal area.

When well organized the defenders set the off-side trap, which will force the opponents into an off-side position, a soccer rule infringement.

When that happens the game will be stopped and a free kick is awarded to the defending team causing frustration to the attackers thus losing their game plan.

They must also communicate clearly with the goalkeeper otherwise they might kick the ball into their own goal or leave the ball only to be taken by the opponent and score a goal.

Goalkeepers – No.1

Soccer goalkeeper wears number 1

The goalkeeper is notable for wearing a different colored jersey from the rest of the team and can use his or her arm in the penalty box during the match.

The goalkeeper is the player keeping the opponent team from scoring goals.

Skillful goalies can be as nimble as a cat as they dive spectacularly to save the shots fired at them and be strong he or they can withstand the pushing and shoving at the goal during corner kicks.

The need to give instructions to the defenders when there is a free kick near the goalmouth. this is important so that the defenders can stand directly between the ball and the goal, therefore blocking the kicker’s view and the ball’s path.

The goalkeeper is a position that is compulsory for every soccer team and if they are red-carded they have to be replaced but one player must be taken out of the team.

This will leave the team one player less.

Excellent Teamwork Leads To Victory

Soccer trophy
Excellent Teamwork Leads To Victory

When all the players performed their assigned roles in the team it will work like a well-oiled machine.

All the players will have confidence in each other’s skills and abilities which will lead to victory.


The numbers on the jersey still play their role in identifying the player’s position and role in the team.

However, due to a lot of game strategies and tactics, you will find that one of the wingers is actually the main striker.

It also helps in identifying players when they don’t have their names on their backs.

Besides, wearing your favorite number does bring luck when you least expect it.

You might also be interested to read the following:

Soccer Training Equipment For Kids

5 Fun Soccer Warm Up Drills (and Warm Down)

What is your favorite soccer number, and why?

Let me know in the comments below.


Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

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