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3v3 4 gates 2 goals

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3v3 4 gates 2 goals



The field is laid out with 2 mini-goals and 4 pairs of cones (gates) positioned in quadrants of the field.

To score, a team must pass or dribble through at least 2 of the gates in either direction. If a team loses possession and then regains possession, the team must once again go through 2 gates to unlock the goals. A team may not go through the same gate twice in a row to achieve the number of gates required to score.


In the basic version of the activity, a team scores 1 point for scoring on its mini-goal. The scoring system can be modified to assign points for consecutive gates and increase the point total for goals—for example, 1 point for 5 gates in a row and 5 points for a goal.


The activity can be changed to increase or decrease the challenge for the players.

A simple progression is to alter the number of gates required to unlock a goal – either more or fewer. If teams demonstrate success with 2 gates, increasing the minimum to 3 can create new challenges for the players.

As shown, the goals are laid in quadrants with the “line” formed by the gate perpendicular to the direction of the mini-goals. The configuration of the gates could be changed to diagonals, more gates could be added, or the gates could be made larger or smaller. The gates’ location, width, number, and angles provide options for the coach who wishes to use this activity multiple times in a training cycle.


Another progression/change is to alter the rules used to determine how a gate is achieved. The default method is passing or dribbling in either direction. The method can be modified to restrict the direction (only toward the mini-goal) or method (only passing or only dribbling). An additional option if using the dribbling restriction is to require different players to move through the gates so that no one player can perform all of the dribbling.

What we like about this game

Although the game can appear counterintuitive at times—due to the requirement for teams to move through a minimum number of gates even though the mini-goal may be open—the rules encourage players to develop combinations of play, environment awareness, communication, and transition from possession-to-retain to possession-to-score.

Due to the gates requirement, it is difficult in this game for a single player to dominate. Players need to work together to find solutions to the challenge of purposeful possession in various locations on the field, given the location of opponents. When a team achieves its first gate, the player(s) in possession should know their options for the next gate. Teammates—using verbal and nonverbal communication—can assist in this effort.


In the defensive role, players must determine the next threat once one of the gates has been moved through to prevent the opponent from achieving a second gate, which would unlock the goal.


Relationship to the game

Although the full-size game does not include gates or requirements to play through different spaces of the field before scoring, this activity encourages players to consider opportunities to use space to retain possession, switch the point of attack, and move opponents in preparation for creating overloads that result in quality goal-scoring opportunities.

With more advanced teams, a positional play style can be adapted in which players take specific roles within the field and achieve gates with patterns of movements. With entry-level teams, especially when the teams include players of different ability levels, the use of gates creates equalization since each player will need to have some role in order for the gate count to be achieved.

Coaching points

For the game’s success, defenders are encouraged not to sit in front of the mini-goal as goalkeepers. Although the game is shown with the mini-goals flush to the field markings, moving the goals 5-10 yards from the end line can solve this problem.


For the team in possession, it is desirable to let the ball “do the work”—through passing combinations—rather than dribbling between goals. The reason is that if the movement between gates is slow, the opponents will be able to shift and close off the next gate. Similarly, the team with the ball should consider where to go next once the option to move through a gate is available. This way, the opponents may be drawn to one gate, leaving other options open.

Defenders are challenged in this activity to defend space and prevent both gates and goals. The third player in the combination often causes problems for the defenders. In this activity, the defenders must try to defend the gate near the ball and—if the attackers choose to switch points of attack if the gate is closed off—defend the other positions on the field.


The defending team may choose to collapse, allow the attackers to achieve gates, and then bunker in front of the mini-goal. The progression to a scoring system that awards points for consecutive gates and/or repositioning the mini-goal away from the grid (as described above) can mitigate this problem.

In summary, the key coaching points for defenders are to be continually environmentally aware, communicate with each other, and be prepared to react quickly when the ball transitions in the field.

Adjust for numbers

The game can be scaled up to 4 or 5 players per side without substantially altering the quality or outcomes. However, it is difficult to play with fewer than 3 players per team. If there are an odd number of players, the game could proceed with an imbalance (4v3) or a neutral (3v3+1).


The requirement to transition through spaces on the field means that if an underload (opposition has more players) exists in one part of the field, an overload (we have more players) can be found. An imbalanced game does not typically alter this characteristic of the game.

Using a neutral can facilitate the movement of the ball between spaces of the field. The coach needs to consider whether the neutral makes the game “too easy” – and whether an imbalance would better encourage the players to find game-like solutions.


The 3v3 4 gates 2 goals game presents interesting challenges for players in both the attacking and defending roles. The team in possession must identify opportunities within the field to create overloads, quickly achieve an objective, and then determine the next opportunity. The use of communication, scanning, and imagination plays into the team’s success. In the defensive role, the team must be prepared to isolate the ball and reduce options while being prepared to shift and defend a different portion of the field at any time.