Interpretation of 4-3-3 | Rotational Movement

Click here to watch a video showing an interpretation of how to play 4-3-3 in possession using 4 phases of possession:

  • Build Up
  • Consolidation
  • Incision
  • Finish

Michael JolleyInterpretation of 4-3-3 | Rotational Movement

Comments 34

  1. Sean Douglas

    Hi Michael, This is one of the better (best?) videos I have seen about the 4-3-3 in possession. One crucial area that is not included (perhaps to keep it less complex) is for a player to dribble from one phase to the next. Having a back 4 player dribble into the consolidation phase (with time and space) to overload the midfield is a valuable tool. And similarly with the other phases. I look forward to future installments! p.s. what did you use to create this video?

    1. Post
      Michael Jolley

      Hi Sean – thank you for your comment – I used Keynote on a mac to create the video. You are right about dribbling or carrying the ball. Some of my favourite players are great dribblers – Messi of course, but also Stoichkov, Valderrama, Scifo, Boniek. You are right that I ommitted this aspect from the video because I did not want to lose focus from the key message or overload the video with too much information.
      Best Regards
      – Michael

  2. Emily


    This is brilliant! It has been very helpful as a visual for the kids we are teaching here in Mexico as sometimes the meaning is lost in translation. They have been watching it over and over. I look forward when you can create something on the back 4 zonal as the kids were taught playing with a sweeper before we got hold of them.
    Thanks for making this again a very useful tool!!

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  3. Jordi Pascual

    Hi, Michael. A very good interpretation. The best, IMO, is not that you show how the 1-4-3-3 can be played, the movements of players, etc. if not how you show what happens after reciving the ball a certain player in a certain position. That means, which are/can be the possibilities of passing/playing (passing lines), when the ball arrives to a player; because the most important is not what is happening now; it’s what will happen later. Remember that football is something about Time and Space. Nothing more, nothing else.

    1. Post
      Michael Jolley

      Thank you for your comment Jordi – yes i agree with your sentiment – we sometimes refer to this by asking our players to ‘play in the future’.
      – Michael

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  4. Rohai

    This is really great! very helpful and informative. the best ive seen so far in youtube.
    Anyway, im a liverpool fan. and this seems like how liverpool is playing. correct me if wrong.
    im trying to implement this style of play to my team. we dont have time to train. we play friendlies every weekend. any idea how i can impart this idea/style into them before every game?

    1. Post
      Michael Jolley

      Hi Rohai – thanks for your comment.
      I must say that I think it would be very difficult to implement this style of play without training – in fact I think it is very difficult WITH training, so almost impossible without. In the moments you have with your team, I would suggest that you use as many visual cues as possible to explain to the players what you’d like them to do. I would also review and reflect on every interaction you have with your players to assess whether their learning is being embedded.
      But my biggest recommendation to you is to start training with your players, that is the time to do your work!!
      Good luck to you my friend.
      Kind Regards
      – Michael

  5. Steve_NYRB

    Love this video. Have shown it to my 8 year old son. His favorite players are Iniesta and Willshire. 3 questions: 1. What software did you use to create the diagram and animation? 2. Is that a coldplay remix? 3. Could you create a similar video for a youth team playing 8v8. Playing 1/3 size field.

    1. Post
      Michael Jolley

      Hi Steve – thank you very much for your comment. I’m really pleased that your son enjoyed the video, Iniesta and Wilshere are two excellent players to follow. Can I recommend that you watch out for a player called Josh McEachran, currently playing at Middlesbrough, if you like that type of technical player. The answers to your questions are:
      - I used software called Keynote on a Mac to create the video.
      - No, it is not Coldplay, its a band called Chicane.
      - I am hoping to do an 8v8 version soon….
      Thank you for commenting on the video, good luck to you and your son, kind regards
      – Michael

  6. Louis


    That video concerning 4-3-3 is unbelievable. I constantly work on the principles of play – dispersal, movement, support, penetration however I feel that player’s individual movement is superb. At the highest level playing against top players it is double/triple rotations which is the key. This is something i am fascinated with. Do you think teams practice this so it becomes fluid and natural or do they you think they have ket triggers, as in when so and so gets it so and so rotate?

    Yout thoughts would be interesting.

    Louis @LouisLancs

  7. Post
    Michael Jolley

    Thanks for your comments Louis. I believe that the best teams will work consistently on rotational movement. To start with, I believe that triggers are essential, such as when a certain player receives the ball in a certain area of the pitch, or when play is switched from one side to the other. The best teams will ‘hide’ these triggers, or at least vary and amend them, so they are less obvious for watching scouts/opponents.
    However, when you train rotation consistently over time, I have found that the players create their own solutions and no longer rely on the triggers. This is great and can be highly effective because it creates ‘random movement within a structure’, something that is very difficult to defend against.
    Thanks again for your comments Louis.

  8. Shawn

    I’m going to be presenting this to my U16 girls team this week. I’m really anxious for you to complete the pairing for this outlining defensive shape. Any idea when you’ll make that available? Cheers!

  9. Ezani

    Hi Michael

    I’m a Liverpool fan from Malaysia and thank you very much for sharing your video. Our Malaysian national team is still playing the old style of total football of long balls and defend behind the balls which I think, with the invention of the newer methods of tiki taka and short pass, high pressing and possession domination is outdated. I hope our national team can move on to tiki taka like Liverpool is trying to do with Brendan Rodgers.

    One thing I notice when I watch football is that there is always that odd problem of passes which are too strong and strikers shooting over the bar (ballooning their shots). These are common problems but South American strikers rarely shoot over the bar as they use their instep to shoot but orher footballers always use their sidestep and kick UNDER the ball (Rooney did this when he missed that West Ham penalty).

    As for overpassing, I find that top midfielders like Mata and Gerrard always get the best lengths from their long, accurate crosses and the ball almost seems to stop where it lands so the striker has all the time in the world to reach it. This is great passing. How do they do it ? Do they underspin the ball just like they do in tennis or golf so that it stops where it lands ?

    Thanks in advance!

  10. Pingback: Analysis of 4-3-3 System, Strategy & Philosophy | redonetactics

  11. Kevin

    Hey Michael,
    Great video,learned a lot from your introduction of 4-3-3.My question is what separates 4-3-3 from 4-2-3-1?
    I think they basically run in the same system. 4-3-3 is more defensive-minded though.
    PS:what is the background music you used in this video?

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  12. Lars

    Awesome video dude!
    With the new additions to my team we were kinda forced to change formation, so we now use a 4-3-3.

    This video helped them a lot, making the formation switch much easier!

    Are you gonna make videos of the other 4 ‘moments’ you start out with?

    1. Post
      Michael Jolley

      Hi Lars – thanks for your comments. Yes I will be doing that when I have a little more time, maybe after the current season has ended. Thanks for your kind comments regarding the video.
      - Michael

  13. Javier Alonso

    Michael: As you solve the 4-3-3 scheme possession when central markers are wide open, what kind of relay do you use? thanks !!!

    1. Post
      Michael Jolley

      Hi Javier – thank you for your comment. I am sorry but I do not fully understand your question – can you please explain what you mean in some more detail?!? Then I will try to help you out – thanks Javier : )

  14. Javier Alonso

    Michael: thus playing the two central defenders are very open or separated if the opponent gets the ball.como combat this?

    1. Post
      Michael Jolley

      Now I understand Javier. Yes you are correct that when the central defenders ‘split’ wide they leave a big space in between – so are vulnerable to a counter attack if possession is lost. The defenders must be a good judge of how likely – and when – ball possession will change hands. Is the ball ‘at risk’? If yes, come closer together quickly, if not at risk, they can go further apart. One solution is to have the deepest midfield player come and play in between the central defenders – he can act as a third defender if the ball is lost. Thanks for your question Javier.

  15. oscar salgado

    exelente michaell tu blog soy de honduras he dirigido las selecciones nacionales a nivel de sub17,sub20,sub21 y trabaje un año como asistente de bora milutinovic ahora trabajo con el club olimpia de donde hemos exportado para inglaterra a wilson palacios ,maynor figueroa,thomas suazo y david suazo al inter y estoy bastante sorprendido por los interezantes de tu blog ojala puedas compartirme el analisis del liverpool que no lo encuentro y estaremos en contacto ya que desde ahora te doy mi admiracion y respeto por tus conocimientos y lo mas importante que lo compartes y no no olvides que la mayor felicidad del ser humano es la que comparte con los demas.
    un abrazo y aca tienes un amigo

  16. Dom

    Hi Michael, loved the 4-3-3 video mate, absolutely superb, would greatly appreciate if you got the time to analyze other formations like 4-2-3-1 in attack & defence mode? I signed pro 15 year ago but due to circumstances gave up the game but I am now taking on my first coaching role with an U14 boys team next month, I could show the guy’s this physically on a board but what I would really like to do is show them a free movement video I created myself similar to your one obviously with my own interpretations so just wanted to know how did you make the vid? ie the layout of the pitch & the movement of the players number?? I am crap with software & computers, what exactly do I need to make my own video similar to the one you made, cheers mate ;)

    1. Post
      Michael Jolley

      Hi Dom -thanks for your comment, glad that you enjoyed the video. I used keynote to make that video – its software that comes free with a Mac computer. Once you get used to using Keynote you’ll work out how to create similar videos for yourself! Best of luck with your coaching – cheers, Michael.

  17. Steve Barrett


    Fantastic video analysis of 4-3-3. I have adopted this system for my college team and have found this video to be a tremendous help in explaining the roles and movement needed. Thank you for sharing.

  18. razlee

    yo mr michael… didnt mention the false 9 in the 433. can you explain it ? and how do the false 9 player join the rotation in the 433 system especially at the consolidation area. thank you.

    razlee from Malaysia

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