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6v3+1 adjacent grids

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6v3+1 adjacent grids



The field is set up as a large grid, divided into 2 rectangles. The activity starts in one grid with 6 players on the outside (2 each on the long sides and 1 on the ends) plus one teammate in the middle with 3 opposition players in the middle.
The outside players try to combine through the middle and move the ball around the grid. Players on the long edges are not allowed to pass to the teammate next to them. The three defenders are trying to intercept the ball. If they win the ball, one of the outside players enters the middle, creating a 3v2. When the two players win the ball, they play back to their outside teammates, with one player remaining in the middle, as before.
On cue (either verbal or non-verbal), the game migrates to the adjacent grid. The players on the central edge drop to the far edge and all players move into the new grid. The game transitions back and forth between the grids.


Although there are no target goals in the activity, scoring can be achieved by counting consecutive passes by a team and assigning points based on a count.
For example, the outside team can receive 1 point for 10 consecutive passes, and the inside team can receive 1 point for 5 consecutive passes. Alternatives can include points for playing through the central player. Scoring can be adjusted based on the age and ability of the players.


The initial adjustment is to determine the sizes of the grids that will provide both challenges and success for both interior and exterior players. If the grid is too small, it will be challenging to connect consecutive passes. If the grid is too large, it will be too easy to connect passes, and there will be no changes of possession.
A simple progression is to limit the touch count of the exterior players, the interior players, or both. Limiting the touch count of the exterior players will challenge them to keep the game moving, determine their next pass before receiving, and prioritize the speed of play.
A more advanced progression is to require in/out switches when the ball goes through the central attacking player. For example, if an exterior player passes to the central player, they come into the middle, and the central player replaces them on the outside. The challenge for the player entering the grid is identifying positions available for a pass. The challenge for the defenders is to recognize the entry of the new central player and determine marking responsibilities.

What we like about this game

The activity incorporates fundamentals of positional play—movements of interior players to receive and move the ball—with the objective of progressive passing and the transition between spaces through coordinated action among the group. The players on the edge between the two grids must determine when to drop back, and their teammates must recognize the drop, play the ball through to them, and move as a unit into the new grid.
The defending players’ actions should be dictated by the fundamentals of pressure/cover/balance. As the ball moves through the grid, their roles will constantly change. The presence of the central player requires the defenders to be aware of the central player’s position as the game continues. The defenders must determine their positioning when the game moves to the adjacent grid.
The rotation of external players – on the loss of possession and (in the progression) when the ball goes through the central player – creates additional challenges for environmental awareness.

Relationship to the game

The foundation of the activity from the in-possession standpoint is the ability to maintain possession, move the ball, and develop combinations of play to go around and through an opponent’s defensive block. In the defensive role, the ability of the 3 defenders to deny penetration and access to the central player, group communication, and the ability to switch roles (1st, 2nd, 3rd defender) are developed.
The moments of transition for both teams relate to the real game: quickly pressing to deny and regain the ball on loss of possession and using available space to maintain possession on gaining the ball.
The tactical picture in the activity most directly relates to possession as a prelude to progressing forward. The moment of players dropping backward relates to a desire to either draw defenders to create space behind them or secure possession and potentially switch points of attack. In this scenario, we would want the defenders to press the opposition, deny passing lanes to play in behind them, and ideally win the ball.

Coaching points

In possession for the external players, keep the ball moving and play with pace and intent. Recognize the location of the defenders and play the ball away from pressure, trying to draw them to create spaces to play through. Maintain an open body shape to maximize options when receiving the ball.
In possession for the central attacking player, continually try to find pockets of space, create open body positions, constantly check for defenders’ positioning, and try to play 1-2 touch, ideally between spaces created by defensive players.
Out of possession for central defenders – communicate roles, try to isolate the ball and take away passing options for the opponent, recognize the positioning of the central player, and try to deny entry.
In possession by central defenders, expand to use space, recognizing that a second opponent will enter the grid to create a 3v2. Try to move the ball quickly and avoid being isolated from teammates by opponents.
The decision to transition grids and the moments of transition create additional coaching points.
External players on the edge: Determine the moment to transition based on opponents’ positioning and the opportunity to receive the ball. Ensure that your movement is a backpedal rather than turning away from the field. Use verbal/nonverbal communication between each other and with teammates so that they recognize the intent to switch grids.
Other external players: Once the switch is on, move as a unit. For the wide players, immediately show as an option for the “next” pass since the two players who have dropped are not allowed to pass to each other.
Defenders – quickly move forward and try to immediately press and close off the option for the player receiving the ball.

Adjust for numbers

The activity, as shown, requires 10 players. Adjustments can be made for more or fewer players, which may affect the optimal sizing of the grids.
The activity can be performed with as few as 8 players, making it a 4v3+1. If there are 9 players, eliminate one of the players along the central edge.
With 12 players, consider changing the interior by adding one additional attacker and defender, making it a 6v4+2. With 11, consider a 6v3+2 but eliminate the rule where an exterior player joins the interior on the loss of possession.
With larger squads (greater than 12), consider having two groups perform the activity simultaneously with the adjustments described above.


The 6v3+1 positional play activity presents some interesting challenges for players in attacking and defending roles. Using adjacent grids creates decisions for players on both teams – when the game should move and how players on both teams should respond. A change of possession moves the game to the inside of the grid, with the team formerly defending trying to maintain possession while their opponents attempt to press and win the ball back. Verbal and non-verbal communication are essential elements for success in the activity.
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