Solve the 4v3 puzzle

This is a great game to coach getting players to support in defence and attack but with the emphasis on how to play in overload situations – up or down. Defending two goals with three defenders takes good tactics.

Why use it

This session is about using overloads in attack to score goals, defending when outnumbered and switching play

Set up

You need balls, bibs, cones and two normal goals.
Set up a 30×20-yard playing area, with two full-sized goals at one side and four evenly spaced cones at the other.. We used 10 players in the session.

How to do it

There are two teams of four players – the defending team need to number themselves 1 to 4. One defender rests on each attack. The four attackers position themselves next to their cones. The coach passes to the attacking team. Players attempt to build up and score in one of the goals. After a goal is scored or the ball leaves play, the attacking team immediately reacts and receives a new ball from the coach. After three balls have been played, the two teams reverse roles. Which team can score most goals?


This game requires stamina and good decision-making, with players frequently resetting and replaying attacks. It also teaches players how to learn from their mistakes – will attackers pursue different attacking angles when blocked by a prolific defender on one side? Alternatively, can defenders learn to work as a unit if their defence is breached once or twice in a certain way. The game is all about perfecting team roles.

4v3 attacking overload

    1. The coach starts the session with a pass to the four attackers
    2. Three defenders cover two goals – one defender sits out each time

4v3 attacking 2 goals

    3. With two goals and an overload the attacking team has lots of options to create goal scoring chances
    4. Attackers must look for space on the pitch and which goal has the least defenders in front of it

4v3 attacking overload

    5. When the attack is over, players race back to their starting positions and go again, keeping the intensity high

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