When deployed correctly, the 3-1-3-1 can be one of the most fluid, flexible and fantastic 9v9 formations. Like anything in the beautiful game, team tactics, style of play and intricacies can only evolve within the realms of a team's own unique characteristics (including players involved, level of opposition, coaching preferences, and more). But if I had my pick of the litter within my squad, this is how I would deploy the 3-1-3-1 formation at the 9v9 level.
Over the past year of coaching 9v9 soccer, the 3-2-3 has become my favourite formation to use. I am a firm believer that the formation of any team should not be based around a club identity or a coach’s personal style of play, but rather based around the team’s style of play and the personnel of the team. However, I have found that the 3-2-3 is fantastic in suiting nearly every type of player and the simple and easy variations that can be created using the formation such as shifting into a 3-1-3-1, allow coaches to tweak and change their style of play to fit the needs of the vast majority of youth soccer players.