AFC Ajax Amsterdam: Advanced Coaches Clinic, Part II

It’s is interesting as I transcribe my notes the unprecedented access and tactical information that Hoek and van der Lem bestowed upon us.  I dare say that this type of presentation would not be possible today.

Part II concerns the description of the team roles and responsibilities during the first of three moments of play, defending.

Please note that what I am sharing is very nearly verbatim my notes from the clinic.  I’m trying not to add any extra information as I want the transcription to be historically accurate and whole.

Ajax System of Play

  • Positional system of play
    • 4:3:3 -> 3:4:3 -> 3:3:4
    • Depends on situation & opponent
    • May change during game


    • Use numbers to describe positions
      • Allows players to understand all positions & their role when/if they move during a game.
    • Attacking soccer
  •  Main Moments




  1. Defense:
    1. Usually man-to-man against opposing attackers
    2. All players press immediately after turnover
      1. Win possession back quickly
    3. Occupy space in middle
      1. Pinch in on wings
    4. Most important is #4
      1. Controls defensive play
      2. Communicator/organizer
    5. Play at half line
      1. Stay in opposing half and press
    6. #3 predicts attacking movements – reads the game
    7. Press as a team
      1. DO NOT press if #4 and #10 out of position
      2. #4 signals for press/no press
    8. GK does not stay on line
      1. Moves out to cutoff long through pass
    9. Double-team press in attack
      1. i.e. when #7 presses wing defender with ball, #11 moves into middle & leaves far defender alone (and vice-versa)

Line-up vs 3 opposing strikers (3:4:3)


Line-up vs 2 strikers (3:4:3)


  • Note above:  #4 and #3 switch places.  Danny Blind was too slow and short to play in this formation.  Reverse roles.
  • More defensive space in back vs 2 strikers so use incidental pressure determined by #3.

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