Shape vs positions...
Shape is how the players will play and positions are where players are assigned to play by the coach.
Positions do not define how the team will play only how the kids will be placed on the field. It does not define how the kids will attack and defend or what kind of style they will play.
Players must transition from defending to attacking and back again - young players will chase the soccer ball, so this could hurt the shape.
The 3v3 shape will be the predominant shape we will use as an example...
At the younger levels shape can be defined as 3v3, 4v4, 6v6 or an 8v8 shape.
An attacking shape in a 3v3 would be 1 defender and two forwards or in a defending shape it would be 2 defenders and 1 forward.
The kids can also float between the two shapes 2-1 or 1-2 depending on what is happening in the game. This will help the players understand the game as they grow and no matter where they play they can attack or defend out of that shape.
What will also define
the shape is how team will play, such as their...
or are they more direct meaning they like to get forward in a hurry.
The smaller game fits into the bigger game so as example if the players play in an 8 vs 8 shape there are little triangles all over the field of 3's and if the players know how to play 3 vs 3 it fits into the 6 vs 6 or 8 vs 8 shape.
Defending shape is how the players will set up when they lose the soccer ball.
At the younger ages the defending shape in a 3v3 game the players will defend with 2 - 1 and 1 - 2.
The players are learning how to win or tackle the soccer ball - not diving in - how to close the players down.
Now you have it - shape vs positions and how they fit together.
Enjoy your coaching!