9 3v3 Soccer Drills and Small Sided Games

Small-sided games such as 3v3 play a huge role in developing players technically and tactically. Coaches should be looking to include 3v3 soccer drills in their soccer sessions to help accelerate the development of their players.

In 3v3 small side games, players will naturally have more touches on the ball and more decisions to make.

A study that looked into the differences comparing a 3v3 and 6v6 small-sided game found as whole 3v3 games were more beneficial for the players.

The players in the 3v3 small side games had performed more short passes, kicks, dribbles, tackles and scored more goals when compared to a 6v6 small-sided game.

It concluded by recommending coaches should implement a form of 3v3 games to support the development of players’ physical fitness and soccer technique.

If you want to speed up the development of your players the best way for you to do this is to improve your knowledge as a coach. Here are some soccer coaching books I would recommend.

Reference: Effects of Small-Sided Games on Physical Conditioning and Performance in Young Soccer Players

Download these drills as a free pdf at the bottom of the page

3v3 soccer drills and small sided games

In this post, I am going to give a variety of different 3v3 small-sided games and soccer drills that you can use with your teams.

Each of the 3v3 drills will have different outcomes depending on the rules and the setup to reach the desired session objective.

For these drills, I recommend that you give players positions to help them get a better understanding tactically of the game. For example having a center midfielder, a left midfielder, and a right midfielder.

The 3v3 soccer drills will also include coaching points and different ideas on how you can make the 3v3 soccer drill more or less challenging.

Make sure you have all the soccer coaching equipment you need for the drills before starting.

1. 3v3 shooting from distance small sided soccer game

Purpose of the soccer drill:

The purpose of this drill is to encourage players to shoot when they feel like they have an opportunity to score from distance.

Players can experience different techniques and ideas which can give them the opportunity to shoot and score.

Set up:

  • 20x40 yard area divided in vertical thirds
  • 1 ball
  • 2 goals
  • 2 teams of 3

Instructions:

Set up your area and divide it into vertical thirds.

This will be a regular 3v3 game however if you are able to score a goal from the middle section of the area then that goal will be worth 3 goals instead of one.

You can also add different rules to this small-sided game to make it more challenging:

  • More points if players score with their weaker foot
  • Add targets or gates to goals for players to shoot through or hit
  • Include a goalkeeper in the goal so it is more game realistic

Coaching points:

  • Be confident, as soon as you think you can score take your shot
  • Use a skill to give yourself enough space to take the shot
  • Keep your head so you can constantly assess what is going on around you to help you decide when, how and where to shoot

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • When should you take your shot on goal?
  • What can you do to create space for yourself to have a shot on goal?
  • Why must you keep your head up when thinking about taking a shot?

2. 3v3 transitioning small sided game

Purpose of the soccer drill:

The purpose of this 3v3 small-sided game is to help players quickly transition from defense to attack.

Set up:

  • 20x40 yard area
  • 2 balls
  • 2 goals
  • 3 teams of 3

Instructions:

Set your area and divide your players into 3 teams of 3, with 2 teams in the area and 1 team offside with a soccer ball.

This will be in a ‘winner stays on format’ which will encourage intense and competitive games.

The 2 teams in the middle will play a normal scrimmage with the team scoring first staying on, with the losing team coming off to be replaced by the team on the side bringing in a new ball as they come in.

The scoring team will now be defending the goal they just scored in.

If there is no goal after 3 minutes then the team that has been on the longest will come off.

At the end of the given time, the team that stays on for the most consecutive rounds will be the winning team.

Different rules you can include:

  • You can include a goalkeeper to make it more game realistic
  • Instead of 1 goal teams have to score 2 goals

Coaching points:

  • As soon as a transition occurs how quick can you adapt to the change in possession (attacking or defending)
  • Attack quickly when opponents are the middle of a transition
  • If you are attacking spread out as much as you can, if you are defending try and remain compact

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What do you have to think about when a change in possession occurs? (defending and attacking)
  • If you see a team unorganized are you going to attack quick or slow? Why?
  • How should you be organized when defending/attacking?

3. 3v3 waves soccer drill

Purpose of the soccer drill:

The purpose of this drill is to encourage players to track back and make recovery runs to try and get back in position after losing possession.

Set up:

  • 20x40 yard area
  • 3 balls (1 per team)
  • 2 goals
  • 3 teams of 3

Instructions:

Create you are and line up 1 team behind 1 goal and 2 teams behind the opposite goal with a soccer per team.

To start the 3v3 soccer drill the first time will start by combining passes and scoring in the goal opposite them. After a goal is scored that team will immediately become the defending team, defending against the team behind the goal they just scored on.

When the defending team rotates out they will collect a ball and wait ready to attack again, behind the goal they originally scored on.

This process will continue (providing players are concentrating) until the time limit is up.

The next attacking team can come into play either when a goal is scored, the ball goes out of bounds or the attacking team has lost possession.

Coaching points:

  • As soon as the transition occurs, quickly organize from attack to defense
  • Attack and exploit the space as quickly as possible
  • Attack using the whole width of the area

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What should you be doing as soon as your have lost possession?
  • When you attacking should you attack fast or slow?
  • How can you make the pitch as big as possible when attacking?

4. 3v3 2 goal game

Purpose of the soccer drill:

The purpose of this game is to get players thinking about the positions they can take up to help switch the play and identify where the space is.

Set up:

  • 20x40 yard area
  • 1 ball
  • 4 goals
  • 2 teams of 3

Instructions:

Set up your area and place a goal in each of the corners facing opposite each other.

This will be a regular scrimmage however instead of defending 1 goal teams will defend 2 goals.

This will help players identify where the space is and how they can work together to score more effectively.

For goal and corner kicks then can be taken on the line with goals but in the middle.

Coaching points:

  • Support players who cannot go forward by dropping off and creating an angle for them.
  • Play with your head up so you see where teammates, space and defenders are.
  • If you do not have the ball move away to give the player on the ball more space

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • How can you support players who cannot go forward?
  • What must you do so you can consistently try to make the best decisions on the ball?
  • How can you allow the player on the ball to have more space?

5. 3v3 Waves with 1 goal

Purpose of the soccer drill:

The purpose of this soccer drill is to encourage players to transition and organize from attack to defense.

Set up:

  • 20x40 yard area
  • 3 balls (1 per team)
  • 1 goal
  • 3 teams of 3

Instructions:

Set up your area 1 goal, the 3 teams of 3 will start behind the line that opposite goal with a soccer ball each. The first team in line will combine passes scoring on the goal.

As soon as the phase of play ends the team that took the shot will become the defenders with the next team combining passes becoming the attacking team.

The phase of play will be over when a goal is scored, the ball goes out of bounds or if the defending team gains possession of the ball.

A goalkeeper can also be introduced to make it more match realistic

Coaching points:

  • Attack quickly so the other team does not have a chance to organize
  • Spread and use the whole width of the pitch when attacking
  • Communicate with your teams when transitioning from attack to defense

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • Why should you attack fast?
  • When you are attacking what positions should you take up?
  • How can you effectively organize as a team when transitioning from attack to defense?

6. 3v3 small sided soccer game for crossing and finishing

Purpose of the soccer drill:

The purpose of this 3v3 small-sided soccer game is to encourage players to get the ball wide and create scoring opportunities from these positions.

Set up:

  • 20x40 yard area with 2 channels 5 yards wide
  • 1 soccer ball
  • 2 goals
  • 2 teams of 3

Instructions:

Once you have set up your area and made your 2 5 yard wide channels, separate your players into 2 teams of 3.

If a team is able to score a goal with an assist coming from a player in a wide area then that goal will be worth 3 goals instead of one.

If a team is able to score without an assist coming from the wide-area then it will count as 1 goal.

Coaching points:

  • When your team is attacking use the whole width of the area
  • When you in a wide area try to get a cross in a early as possible
  • If you do not have the ball support the wide players going forward ( making runs into the box) and backwards (dropping off and creating an angle to work a new opening)

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • When you are attacking how you can create as much space as possible?
  • What benefits does you team get by playing crosses in early?
  • How can you support the wide player going forward/backwards?

7. 3v3 playing and supporting the striker

Purpose of the soccer drill:

The purpose of this soccer drill is for players to move up the pitch to help support their striker and create attacking overloads.

Set up:

  • 20x40 yard area divided in half
  • 1 soccer ball
  • 2 goals
  • 2 teams of 3

Instructions:

With your area set it up and divide it up into 2 halves. This will be a normal 3v3 game with each team defending their own goal.

However teams in each of the teams defending half there will 2 defenders and one attacker from the opposing team.

These players must stay in their respective halves until a pass is played from a defending player to the attacking player.

Once the pass is played the defending can then move into the attacking half to help support the attack.

Once the phase of play comes to an end the players will return back to their respective areas.

Coaching points:

  • When you get the ball in the defending half try to play to the attacker as early as possible
  • Once the ball is at the attackers feet move up to support the attacker
  • If you are the attacker look to receive the ball to feet and hold of the defender in a side on body position

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • When you get the ball what should your first though be if you are in the defending half?
  • How can you help support the attacker once you have made the pass to them?
  • How can you hold up the ball and bring your teammates into play?

8. 3v3 Small side game for defensive organization

Purpose of the soccer drill:

The purpose of this soccer drill is to help teams stay organized when defending and encourage their counterattack.

Set up:

  • 20x40 yard area divided in half
  • 1 soccer ball
  • 2 goals
  • 2 teams of 3

Instructions:

For this small-sided game, it will be a regular game of 3v3 soccer however if teams are able to win the ball in their own half and score a goal in the same phase of play they will be rewarded with 3 goals instead of 1.

This will encourage your players to start a counter attacker or make the decision to retain possession to create a new opportunity to score.

This is a great small-sided game to use when the focus of your session is about dropping off and maintaining a ‘hard to break down’ defensive block.

You can highlight to your players how to press and how to cover in different scenarios.

Coaching points:

  • Stay organized as a team in your positions and communicate with teammates
  • Wait for opposing players to make a mistake to win the ball back
  • When you win the ball your first though should be forward, if you can’t go forward retain possession

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • How can you stay organized when defending?
  • When should you try to step in to win the ball?
  • What should be your first thought when your team wins the ball?

9. 3v3 small sided soccer game for pressing

Purpose of the soccer drill:

The purpose of this soccer drill is to reward players and teams for pressing successfully

Set up:

  • 20x40 yard area divided in half
  • 1 soccer ball
  • 2 goals
  • 2 teams of 3

Instructions:

The rules for this game will that similar to a regular small-sided game, however, if players are able to press the opposing team in their half, win the ball, and manage to score the goal will be worth 3 goals.

This will encourage your players to press the opposing team and help teach them when and how to press.

If your players are beginners it is recommended that on goal kicks that the players not in possession of the ball started on the halfway line.

They can only move into the area when the goal kick has been taken.

Another option is to only allow 1 or 2 players into the opponent’s half to give the opportunity for the team in possession to play out.

Coaching points:

  • Work together as a team to win the ball back
  • Cut off passing lines for the player with the ball to reduce the options they have on the ball
  • Wait for the opponents to take a mistake to win the ball

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • Is easier to win the ball back as individual or as a team?
  • How can you restrict the options the player on the ball has?
  • When is a good time to try to win the ball or apply more pressure?

3v3 soccer drills and small sided games conclusion

3v3 soccer drills and small-sided games will provide a huge benefit to your players regardless of their age and ability level.

Players are able to increase their development through 3v3 drills and games and best of all they’ll have fun while learning!

I hope these drills and small-sided games have given you inspiration and ideas that you can use with your own teams.

If you have any other 3v3 soccer drills that you use with your teams leave a comment on the post and I will get back to you!

Also if you know a know who would find these 3v3 soccer drills and small-sided games useful then please share it with them using our social media buttons.

If you like the animated drills check out the soccer coaching software I use.

Thank you,

Toby

Related Posts:

My recommended eBook for coaching small-sided games

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3v3 Soccer drills and small sided games PDF

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