What are the 11 positions in soccer?

  • There are 11 positions in soccer
  • Goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and forwards are the four general positions
  • Each team fields their own formation that could change from week to week
Here's all the positions in soccer.
Here's all the positions in soccer. / Yasser Bakhsh/GettyImages

There are 11 positions in soccer that make up the general formation of each team, no matter the league, skill level, or opponent.

All soccer teams field 11 players for 90 minutes. Unlike football, soccer requires all the offensive and defensive players to be on the pitch at the same time, for the duration of the entire match. Ideally, the starting 11 consists of the best players available at each position, giving the team their greatest chance to win.

Soccer positions are easily broken down into four general categories: goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and forwards. The goalkeeper remains at the back of the formation, protected by his line of defenders. Then, the midfielders control the middle of the field, and the forwards operate in the opponent's final third to (hopefully) score goals.

There are specific roles and titles, though, granted to each player on the pitch that highlights their true position on the field.

Al-Nassr v Al Wehda - Saudi Pro League
Al-Nassr v Al Wehda - Saudi Pro League / Yasser Bakhsh/GettyImages

What are the 11 positions in soccer?

Here are the 11 positions in soccer:

  • Goalkeeper (GK)
  • Left-Back (LB)
  • Center Back (CB)
  • Center Back (CB)
  • Right-Back (RB)
  • Defensive Midfielder (CDM)
  • Central Midfielder (CM)
  • Attacking Midfielder (CAM)
  • Left Winger (LW)
  • Forward/Striker (CF/ST)
  • Right Winger (RW)

Of course, the 11 positions are not set in stone. Some teams might want to roll out a back five, featuring an extra defender, against a team with significant offensive prowess. Other teams have a more free-flowing formation, where multiple players weave in and out of certain positions to create space and scoring opportunities. Left-and-right-backs can also be deployed as wing-backs which enable them to get up and down the pitch more frequently.

The best players in the world are flexible enough to slot in at different positions in times of need. French soccer player, Aurélien Tchouaméni, a natural defensive midfielder, has excelled at center-back for Real Madrid this season after several starters suffered injuries.

Ultimately, a team is free to tweak their formation and starting 11 in favor of a certain playstyle or strategy across different competitions.