A player’s playing position is his initial reference point for positioning himself relative to his teammates.
The main playing positions that can be used by a team are:
- GK – Goalkeeper.
- SW – Sweeper.
- CB (CB / LCB / RCB) – Centre Back (Central Centre Back / Left (off-centre) Centre Back / Right (off-centre) Centre Back). Also known as Centre Half (Central Centre Half / Left (off-centre) Centre Half / Right (off-centre) Centre Half).
- FB (LB / RB) – Full Back (Left Back / Right Back).
- WB (LWB / RWB) – Wing Back (Left Wing Back / Right Wing Back).
- DM (CDM / LDM / RDM) – Defensive Midfielder (Central Defensive Midfielder / Left (off-centre) Defensive Midfielder / Right (off-centre) Defensive Midfielder).
- CM (CM / LCM / RCM) – Centre Midfielder (Central Centre Midfielder / Left (off-centre) Centre Midfielder / Right (off-centre) Centre Midfielder).
- WM (LM / RM) – Wing Midfielder (Left Midfielder / Right Midfielder).
- AM (CAM / LAM / RAM) – Attacking Midfielder (Central Attacking Midfielder / Left (off-centre) Attacking Midfielder / Right (off-centre) Attacking Midfielder). The off-centre playing positions are also known as Inside Forward (Inside Left / Inside Right).
- WF (LWF / RWF) – Wing Forward (Left Wing Forward / Right Wing Forward). Also known as Outside Forward (Outside Left / Outside Right).
- CF (CF / LCF / RCF) – Centre Forward (Central Centre Forward / Left (off-centre) Centre Forward / Right (off-centre) Centre Forward). Also known as Striker (Central Striker / Left (off-centre) Striker / Right (off-centre) Striker).
These playing positions are shown in the diagram below. The team’s own goal is on the left and the opposition team’s goal is on the right. The diagram is not to scale and is only meant to show the relative nature of the different playing positions.
Traditional Playing Positions
The traditional eleven playing positions used in the late 19th century were:
- The goalkeeper playing position.
- Two full back playing positions (left back and right back) occupying the modern centre back playing positions.
- Three half back playing positions (centre half, left half and right half) occupying the modern centre midfielder playing positions.
- Five forward playing positions (outside left, outside right, inside left, inside right and centre forward) occupying the equivalent modern playing positions.
All other playing positions and terms included in the list of main playing positions above have been added during later development of the game.
Categories of Playing Positions
The following broad categories of playing positions are referred to in this guide:
- Outfield playing positions (outfield players) – All playing positions except the goalkeeper playing position.
- Central playing positions (central players) – Sweeper, centre back, defensive midfielder, centre midfielder, attacking midfielder and centre forward.
- Wide playing positions (wide players) – Full back, wing back, wing midfielder and wing forward.
- Defender playing positions (defenders) – Sweeper, centre back and full back.
- Midfielder playing positions (midfielders) – Defensive midfielder, centre midfielder, wing back and wing midfielder.
- Attacker playing positions (attackers) – Attacking midfielder, wing forward and centre forward.
- Central defender playing positions (central defenders) – Sweeper and centre back.
- Central midfielder playing positions (central midfielders) – Defensive midfielder and centre midfielder.
- Central attacker playing positions (central attackers) – Attacking midfielder and centre forward.
- Wide defender playing positions (wide defenders) – Full back.
- Wide midfielder playing positions (wide midfielders) – Wing back and wing midfielder.
- Wide attacker playing positions (wide attackers) – Wing forward.
- Deep wide playing positions (deep wide players) – Full back and wing back.
- Advanced wide playing positions (advanced wide players) – Wing midfielder and wing forward.
- More advanced playing positions – Those playing positions closer to the opposition team’s goal.
- Deeper playing positions – Those playing positions closer to the team’s own goal.