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3v3+3+3+GKs wide area

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3v3+3+3+GKs wide area



The activity is constructed from two separate zones. The central zone is divided in half with goals 6-12 yards outside the zone. Each half of the zone includes 3 players – 1 attacker and 2 defenders. Initially, these players must stay in their assigned half. A second zone in the wide channel contains three players from each team.

The game starts in the wide channel. Each team is trying to sustain possession. Once a specific number of passes have been completed, a team may play into a teammate in the central zone – either the attacker or one of the defenders. When the ball is played into the central zone, one of the teammates from the wide zone can join – this player may go into either half of the central zone – creating either a 2v2 in the attacking half or a 3v1 in the defending half. A team may also use its goalkeeper in possession.

If the opposing team gains possession, the ball is played back into the wide channel (3v2 due to the presence of the 3rd opponent in the central zone), where the activity restarts. The player that joined the central zone must return to the wide zone to recreate the 3v3.

If a goal is scored, the team scoring the goal restarts with the ball in the wide channel with a 3v3, and the activity resumes.


There are a couple of possible scoring methods.

  1. A team scoring a goal gets 1 point
  2. Each time a team can complete its pass count and pass into the central zone, it receives 1 point. A goal counts for additional points (example: 3 points).


The most important adjustment is to locate and size the zones based on the ages and abilities of the players. The zones should be large enough to allow the attacking players in the central zone to find spaces to receive and combine, but not so large that the game is unrealistic. With 6 central players (3v3) and 6 wide players (3v3), a central zone of 30×20 yards and a wide zone of 20×15 yards with a 5-10 yard space between the zones can be a reasonable place to start. Consider observing the players and making adjustments based on their success and challenges.

There are several possible progressions from the base activity.

Change the number of consecutive passes in the wide zone required before a team can play into the central zone. A possible initial objective might be 3 passes. Adjusting the number higher (example: 5) requires the players in the wide zone to improve their ability to possess in tight spaces. Adjusting the number lower simplifies the task in the wide channel and prioritizes the transition into the central zone.

Adjust the rule regarding players moving from the wide zone to the central zone when the ball transitions. Initially, only one player from the team in possession can move into the central zone with the ball. Alternatives include: 1) one defender may also migrate with the ball, or 2) two attackers and one defender may also migrate with the ball.


Place a time or pass restriction on the attacking team once the ball is played into the central zone. Examples: 1) the attacking team must score within 5 (or 10) seconds, or 2) the attacking team must score with 5 or fewer passes. The intent is to create a situation in which the players act quickly to score, recognizing that in the actual game, opportunities in these positions on the field are limited in duration.

Limit touch counts in the wide zone: for example, a maximum of three touches. We suggest not using a touch restriction in the central zone as this would potentially limit the choices and creativity in what should be a shooting and finishing phase of the game.

Any of these progressions will affect the actions of the players. It’s essential to consider the problems that a progression will create for the players and the types of solutions the coach seeks from them.

What we like about this game

The game presents challenges to the wide players to possess with purpose (eventually moving the ball from the wide part of the field to the center) and for the central players to anticipate when and how to receive the ball.

The initial assignments of players to zones create a challenge in the attacking half of the center zone where the striker is going 1v2 and an opportunity in the defending zone to receive the ball. To play into the striker, they must be able to find space to receive with against the two defenders. In the defending half, with 2v1, it should be more straightforward to play from the wide area into a free player.


The activity requires players’ movements in different moments – from the wide area to the central area in position during a cross and from the central area to the wide area when possession changes. Within the central area, the additional attacking player can move between zones, and – when the activity progresses – all of the attackers can move freely while the defenders are zone-locked.

When possession changes in the central zone, the ball must return outside (“be recycled”). During this phase, the team in possession should out-number the opponents in the wide zone as one of those players should be in the central zone. This should allow the team in possession to quickly reach its pass count and put the ball back into the central zone before the opposing player returns and equalizes the numbers (3v3).

Relationship to the game

The activity is designed to track closely with final third finishing and defending. It is often the case, especially with inexperienced teams, that play in the final third is direct to goal. The activity encourages players to explore phases of the game in the wide channels. The technical and tactical demands in the activity map are closely related to what will be required in the game.

Coaching points

In an activity with two separate zones, observing and instructing the players’ actions in the zone away from the ball is essential. Players away from the ball often “disconnect” from the activity until the ball returns to their zone. We may see this in the game – a lot of activity near the ball with players further away waiting to see what will happen before moving.

In this game, there are two triggers for the ball to move between zones: 1) achieving a pass count in the wide zone and 2) a change of possession in the central zone. In both cases, we want the players in the opposite zone to recognize a trigger and to open up (dismark) in anticipation of receiving the ball.


In possession in the wide zone, we look for players to spread out, using the space in the zone to be able to complete their pass count in anticipation of switching the ball. Players should have open body positions, and when crossing the ball, there should be an intent to take a first touch toward the central zone to make a quality longer pass to teammates in the central zone. As the ball is played into the wide zone, the team in possession will initially be numbers-up (3v2) – so play should be quick and with purpose.


Defending in the wide zone, we look to delay, slow the opponents, and allow our teammate from the central zone to join us to recreate the 3v3. We want to win the ball and restart our pass count if possible.

In the central zone, the team in possession will be 4v3. The floating player(s) should move into positions to retain the ball and find opportunities to shoot on goal. If a time or pass count limit is imposed as a progression, the attacking team must play urgently and take risks to score goals.

Adjust for numbers

The activity requires 14 players – 6 wide, 6 central, and 2 goalkeepers. It is possible to modify the activity to remove the goalkeepers and use 4 players central rather than 6 – allowing 3 players (2 attackers and 1 defender) to move between grids during transitions. In other words, the activity could be implemented with 10 players.


With an odd number (for example, 15), the extra player could be added as an attacking neutral in either the central or wide zone.


With additional players, a second wide zone can be created with the players distributed between the two wide zones.



The 3v3+3+3 activity challenges players to deal with possession, transitions, off-ball movement, defending numbers-down, and creating goal-scoring opportunities. The game can be adjusted by modifying the sizes and locations of the grids and by adding or removing players. The use of time and pass limits can increase the realism of the activity. The game requires a foundation of technical ability – specifically in making and receiving longer passes and finishing scoring opportunities.

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