The Double-Pivot/Double-Six Analysis

What is a Double Pivot?

Double pivot is a term used in Football, mostly by analysts and in simple translation it means two defensive midfielders. Teams would use a double pivot for many different reasons but commonly used to help prevent counter-attacks, shield the defensive a lower block system or created a numerical advantage when building up play.

Today, we’ll look at how effective they can be for you when you are building play from deeper areas as they can be very flexible. Depending on your tactical set-up, they can have completely different roles and duties or they can have a similar role in your side.

When building play from defence, teams who choose to have a single player in the pivot position may have some difficulties building effectively if the opponent chooses to press so below is two examples. First example you can see how easily the opponent may able to intercept or cut off that passing lane

Next example is how using a double pivot to create a numerical advantage can help combat that. The No9 now has to choose which player to close down and that leaves the other player in the pivot open for a pass

When building from the back with a single pivot, you may be limiting your chances of being able to use the width of the pitch. Someone operating in a single pivot can provide width by moving into a half-space but this can make your build up predictable as it becomes obvious where you want to shift the ball. Using a double-pivot, as shown below, allows us to have an extra passing option and already you have become more unpredictable as the opponent now has to make the choice of either closing down No.4 or No.8

But what if the opponent is able to close down both players? If they do, you should then always have an extra man to be able to pass it to. Whether its out to the flanks, back to the goalkeeper or to a centre back partner. In a system where you are using a double-pivot to build up play, you should always have the advantage of having an extra man

Transition into a Double-Pivot:

To deploy a double-pivot, you don't have to line-up with a double-six. In the examples below, I demonstrate that you can use transitional play to form a double-pivot when building up. I have used a 4-3-3 here, which starts of with a single pivot but once the ball is being worked in deeper areas a central midfield would drop from his advanced position to form a double pivot.

Just looking at this and having the play in my head, this can cause the defending team's shape to be disrupted. No.8 can pull a player out of position by dropping deeper and this can allow No.3 to advance and attack space. Depending on your system, No.3 could cut inside like an Inverted Wing-Back to have greater influence centrally if you want to focus on vertical passes. Or No.3 could be the traditional Wing-Back and attack the flanks whilst No.8 could have the task of covering for the marauding Wing-Back

Negatives of a Double-Pivot:

It was a struggle for me to find a negative as this is commonly used in football and to great effect. But would I would say is that, if you have a player who can play in the pivot position and is great at fulfilling both creative and defensive duties, like a Sergio Busquets, then it's possible this system can have a negative impact on that players performance.


You can apply a double-pivot in different ways for different purposes. Here, I've just whipped up a few quick examples of systems/formations you can use to deploy a double-pivot

First thing is first. What are you trying to achieve with your double-pivot? Is it to create smoother build-up plays or protection for your backline? I'm a huge fan of using it in possession based systems in attempt of making better use of the ball so the first rule for me would have to make sure I have 'Play out of defence' activated

4-2-3-1 Example

4-4-2 Example

4-3-3 Example (Double-Pivot would form in build-up play)


The double-pivot is commonly used in modern football. No matter the standard of players, this structure is proven to be very effective for coaches and teams around the world and is likely to continue in the near future. There are many uses for having an extra player in between the lines of your defence and midfield with my favourite being used for possession and gaining a numerical advantage.

  • Use for possession play

  • Use to protect your backline in a deeper block system

  • Use to overload the first line of play/defensive line

  • Use to Stagger - Having many players occupy different horizontal and vertical lines

  • Use to add width - Provide passing options

Thank you.

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