A Descriptive History of Tactics Used in Football Association From 1863 to the Present

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Performance and Recreation

First Advisor

Dennis Phillips

Advisor Department

Human Performance and Recreation


The purpose of this study was to trace and analyze the development of team tactics used in Football Association from 1863, the year the English Football association was founded, to the present. This study is divided into seven chapters and employs diagrams in order to facilitate understanding of the various formations that have been in use since 1863. A brief history of the development of the sport is presented, along with several reasons for the worldwide appeal of football as a spectator sport. A brief description of the history of football in the United States is presented, as well as a brief history of the foundation of The Federation Internationale De Football Association (FIFA) is given. This history is followed by a description of how football evolved from the crude and unorganized beginning to the start of the modern version of the game. The most influential tactics or formations that have been used since 1863 are explained. An attempt has been made to identify which countries, players, and coaches have been influential in making these changes possible, and for what purpose. Additionally, the relationship between tactics and physical condition is explored, as well as the relations between tactics and other external factors such as the size of the pitch, the quality of the ground, the weather, the wind, the equipment, and the relation between tactics and the laws of the game. The main areas addressed in the conclusion are the development of tactics in football, such as the importance of players, coaches and environmental factors, which would determine the possible future of team tactics in football. The historical research method has been used, and data was collected from readings of related literature. This information was compiled, analyzed, and then chronologically presented in this study.