How Many Players are on a Soccer Team?


A standard soccer team typically consists of 11 players (1 goalkeeper & 10 outfield players) on the field at any given time. However, soccer teams can have more players on their roster, allowing for substitutions during a match.

Substitutions enable teams to replace players for various reasons, such as fatigue, injuries, or tactical changes.

How Many Players Can A Soccer Club Have On Its Roster?

Professional soccer clubs have a first-team squad that typically ranges between 25 and 30 players. In addition to the first-10 squad, clubs may have reserve or youth teams with their own separate rosters.

These teams often serve as a development pathway for young players and provide opportunities for them to gain experience and progress to the first team.

How Many Soccer Players Are On The Field?

In a standard soccer match, there are 11 players from each team on the field at the same time. This number includes one goalkeeper and ten outfield players meaning a total of 22 players on the field.

Each team typically consists of a goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders, and forwards. The players’ positions and roles may vary depending on the team’s tactics and the coach’s strategy.

How Many Substitutes Can A Soccer Team Have And Use?

The most common practice allows for up to 3 substitutions, however, In the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA European Championship, teams are allowed to name up to 23 players on their matchday squad, with a maximum of 12 substitutes with 3 of them eligible to be used during the game.

In many professional matches, teams are allowed to have a maximum of three substitutes on the bench, while in international matches, teams are generally allowed to have up to 12 substitutes on the bench,

It’s important to note that different leagues and competitions may have their own specific rules regarding substitutions. Some leagues allow a greater number of substitutions, especially in situations like extra time or during friendly matches, while others may have additional regulations or limitations.

It’s always advisable to refer to the specific rules of the competition in question to determine the exact number of substitutes allowed.

What Positions Do The 11 Players Play In Soccer?

In a standard soccer formation, the 11 players on the field typically play in the following positions:

Goalkeeper (GK): The goalkeeper’s primary role is to prevent the opposing team from scoring by stopping shots on goal and organizing the defense.

Defenders: Defenders primarily focus on protecting the goal and stopping the opposing team’s attacks. They usually play in the following positions:

Center-backs (CB): Positioned centrally in defense to block and intercept the opponent’s attacks.

Full-backs (RB/LB): Positioned on the right and left flanks of the defense to provide both defensive and offensive support.

Midfielders: Midfielders are responsible for controlling the flow of the game, transitioning between defense and attack, and distributing the ball.

  • Central Midfielders (CM): Positioned in the center of the midfield to provide support to both defense and attack.
  • Defensive Midfielders (CDM): Positioned just in front of the defense to protect the backline and break up opposing attacks.
  • Attacking Midfielders (CAM): Positioned behind the forwards, responsible for creating goal-scoring opportunities.

Forwards: Forwards are the primary goal-scoring threats for the team. They typically play in the following positions:

Strikers (ST): Positioned centrally and closest to the opponent’s goal, with the main responsibility of scoring goals.

Wingers (RW/LW): Positioned on the right and left flanks, responsible for delivering crosses into the box and providing width to the attack.

It’s worth noting that formations and player roles can vary depending on the team’s tactics, coach’s strategy, and specific style of play.

What Is The Lowest Number Of Players Allowed In A Soccer Team?

According to IFAB, a soccer team must have a minimum of 7 players on the field to start and continue a match. A match cannot proceed with fewer than that and the team with insufficient players may be considered to have forfeited the game.

However, it’s important to note that different leagues, competitions, or tournaments may have their own specific rules regarding the minimum number of players required to start a match.

Some may require a higher minimum number, such as eight or nine players, depending on the level of play and the governing body’s regulations.

Therefore, it is advisable to consult the specific rules of the competition in question to determine the exact minimum number of players allowed.

Overview of different soccer team formats

Traditional 11-a-side soccer (11 players):

  • Goalkeeper: 1 player
  • Defenders: Typically 4 players (center-backs and full-backs)
  • Midfielders: Typically 4 players (central midfielders, defensive midfielders, and attacking midfielders)
  • Forwards: Typically 2 players (strikers)

Smaller-sided games:

7-a-side (7 players):

  • Goalkeeper: 1 player
  • Defenders: Typically 2 players
  • Midfielders: Typically 3 players
  • Forwards: Typically 1 player

5-a-side (5 players):

  • Goalkeeper: 1 player
  • Outfield players: Typically 4 players (no specific positional breakdown)

3-a-side (3 players):

No specific positional breakdown

In smaller-sided games, the positions may be less rigidly defined, and players often have more flexibility to move around the field. The focus is usually on increasing the pace of the game, maximizing participation, and enhancing player involvement.

What Are the Advantages of Playing with More Players?

Playing with more players enhances team works, strategic options, better player specializations, improves physical conditioning and endurance.

With more players on the field, there are increased possibilities for combinations, passing options, and tactical maneuvers. It also allows for a wider range of positions and roles to be filled, allowing players to focus on specific skills and positions that suit their strengths.

What Are the Advantages of playing with fewer players?

Playing with fewer players increase involvement and participation, enhances decision-making, creativity, ensuring more space and open play.

With fewer players on the field, each individual has more opportunities to touch the ball, contribute to the game, and make decisions. Players may have to take on multiple roles and responsibilities, leading to increased decision-making opportunities and creativity in finding solutions on the field.

When do smaller team formats are used?

The smaller team formats are often played in recreational or informal settings, training sessions, youth development programs, or specialized leagues.

Factors Influencing Team Size

The team size in soccer can be influenced by various factors, including age groups and competitive levels. Here’s how these factors typically impact team size:

Age groups and youth soccer:

Younger age groups (5-a-side or 7-a-side): In youth soccer, team sizes are often smaller to accommodate the developmental needs of young players. Smaller team sizes allow for increased involvement, more touches on the ball, and better opportunities for skill development and learning.

Older age groups (full 11-a-side): As players progress to older age groups, team sizes tend to increase to reflect the larger field dimensions and more complex tactical aspects of the game.

Competitive levels and professional soccer:

Recreational and amateur levels (5-a-side or 7-a-side): At recreational or amateur levels, team sizes may vary based on factors such as available resources, field dimensions, and participation numbers.

Professional and competitive levels (11-a-side):  The full-sized field and larger team allow for more complex tactics, specialized positions, and a higher level of competition. This format is used in professional leagues and international competitions.

It’s important to note that these factors are not absolute, and variations can exist within different leagues and organizations. 

Strategies and Tactics Based on Team Size

Tactics employed in 11-a-side soccer:

Teams in 11-a-side soccer often employ various formations, such as 4-3-3, 4-4-2, or 3-5-2, which determine the positioning and roles of players on the field.

Teams may focus on maintaining possession of the ball, using passing and ball circulation to control the game tempo, create scoring opportunities, and tire out opponents.

Some teams prefer a more defensive approach, looking to absorb pressure from the opponent.

Strategies for smaller-sided games:

With fewer players on the field, the game tends to be faster and transitions between defense and attack happen more rapidly.

Smaller-sided games allow teams to implement high-pressure tactics, aiming to win the ball back quickly in the opponent’s half.

With fewer players, teams may opt for more direct and attacking play, focusing on quick forward passes and utilizing the open spaces to create goal-scoring chances.

It’s important to note that the specific strategies and tactics employed in both 11-a-side soccer and smaller-sided games can vary depending on team preferences, player abilities, and the overall game plan.

How many outfield players are there in a soccer team?

In a soccer team, there are typically 10 outfield players. These players are responsible for various positions on the field, such as defenders, midfielders, and forwards.

The outfield players contribute to both the defensive and offensive aspects of the game, working together to create scoring opportunities while also preventing the opposing team from scoring.

Are there any restrictions on the number of players a soccer team can have on its roster?

Yes, there can be restrictions on the number of players a soccer team can have on its roster. Here are some common scenarios:

Professional leagues often have specific squad size limitations for teams. For example, a league might enforce a maximum squad size of 25 players, including a limit on the number of foreign players.

Youth soccer organizations may also impose restrictions on squad sizes to ensure equal playing time and opportunities for development.

In international competitions such as the FIFA World Cup or continental tournaments, national teams usually have around 23 players.

In youth soccer, do teams have the same number of players as adult teams?

No, in youth soccer, teams do not always have the same number of players as adult teams.

How Many Soccer Players Do the Youngest Age Groups Play?

In the youngest age groups, such as Under-6 or Under-8, teams often play small-sided games with fewer players on the field. Common formats for these age groups include 3-a-side or 4-a-side games.

How Many Soccer Players Do the Intermediate Age Groups Play?

As players progress to intermediate age groups, such as Under-10 or Under-12, the team sizes typically increase. It is common to see 7-a-side games at this stage, with teams consisting of seven players on the field.

How Many Soccer Players Do the Older Age Groups Play?

In the older age groups, such as Under-14 and beyond, teams often transition to the full 11-a-side format. At this stage, the team size aligns with adult teams, with 11 players on the field.

What positions do the 11 players play in soccer?

In soccer, the 11 players typically play in various positions, including goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, and forwards. The specific positions can vary depending on the team’s tactics and formation.

Are there any age restrictions on the number of players on a soccer team?

The number of players in a soccer team may have age restrictions depending on the specific league, competition, or age group. Youth soccer teams typically have different team sizes based on age groups to align with developmental needs and age-appropriate game formats.

How does the number of players on a soccer team impact game dynamics?

With more players, there is generally more competition for space, increased passing options, and more complex tactical strategies. Smaller team sizes create a faster-paced game, increased individual involvement, and a greater emphasis on individual skills.

Are there any variations in team sizes for different types of soccer competitions?

Yes, there can be variations in team sizes for different types of soccer competitions. While the traditional 11-a-side format is most common, smaller-sided games like 7-a-side, 5-a-side, or even 3-a-side are often used in recreational, youth, or non-professional leagues and tournaments to accommodate different age groups or space constraints.

How does team size impact player communication on the field?

Team size has a direct impact on player communication on the field. In larger team sizes, effective communication becomes essential for coordination and organization.

Does the number of players on a soccer team affect the intensity of the game?

Yes, the number of players on a soccer team can affect the intensity of the game. Smaller team sizes often result in a faster and more intense game due to increased individual involvement and limited space on the field. With fewer players, there is more pressure on each individual to contribute, leading to a higher tempo and more dynamic play.

How does the number of players on a soccer team impact player development opportunities?

Smaller team sizes provide players with increased individual involvement, more touches on the ball, and a greater chance to showcase their skills. This can accelerate technical development, decision-making abilities, and overall game understanding.

In larger team sizes, players may have more competition for playing time, but they can also learn from and be challenged by their teammates, fostering growth and improvement.

How does team size affect training sessions and practice drills?

Team size directly impacts training sessions and practice drills. Larger team sizes allow for more complex training drills, including specific positional exercises, set-piece routines, and team-oriented strategies.

Smaller team sizes often involve more focused and intense training sessions that emphasize individual skills, small-sided game scenarios, and quick decision-making.

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