Tag Archives: futsal

3v3: valuable football development tool

Last week we were observing Joana’s final football practice of the year. Since most players were already out for the holidays, the session consisted mostly of 3v3 play with players from other teams participating. The girls seemingly had a blast and it brought back so many memories. It then became tempting to write about 3v3 as a football development tool like we did with futsal.

Just like other tools which include indoor soccer, private training (i.e. Coerver), Olympic Development Program (ODP), “the wall”, street football, beach football, football tennis, etc. they all have their unique usefulness. In the future, we may also write about those. Today, we will be writing about 3v3 and its advantages and disadvantages as used extensively by our boys.

For those unfamiliar with 3v3. It’s a small-sided variation of football where 3 players take on the opponent’s 3 with no goalkeeper. For a better definition including its rules, check 3v3 Wikipedia’s page. It’s the fastest growing form of the sport in the United States. Our boys played small-sided A LOT (concurrently with “outdoor” football, futsal, etc.) for several years; it not only aided in their football development in a fun environment, but also provided a platform to compete at a high level at an early age. For parents with young kids interested in football, you may find this post useful. BTW, thank you Quickfoot, Kick it 3v3, Live 3v3, and many other organizations. We had a blast and the memories are countless.

He’s been “Jogo” for over a decade -la bola siempre al diez- 01.19.13 (Orlando, FL)

The start

The year was 2010 and we knew that one (sometimes two) practices a week at Solar for Johan were not enough to quench his football thirst. His desire to knock the ball around was just too frequent. We had played, coached and officiated the game all our lives; ironically, we had never coached 3v3 competitively (only rec.). It seemed fun so we said, “what’s the worst that could happen?”. And on we went to participate in Quickfoot’s 3v3 at Keller High School. We coached both Johan’s 4v4 and Jogo’s 3v3 with very little preparation and picking players from their current club teams. The outcome? Johan’s team won while Jogo’s earned second…the seed was planted from then on.


The tournaments in Texas became frequent and the competition was excellent. It gave us an adequate amount of preparation, and confidence to want to take our teams to higher level competitions. We participated at the national level in Orlando three times. Jogo’s team (MOB) went on to win the 3v3 national championship in 2013, our team (La Banda) won third place in 2014 and (MOB) reached the quarter finals in 2015 playing up. Johan’s team only participated once and took 3rd place in 2014. We had the pleasure of meeting many future YNT players at these 3v3 competitions.

Oftentimes, positive results build confidence and perpetuate a love for the game and that’s what we achieved with that group of boys. As of now, every single one of them will be playing college soccer or playing football professionally. We will always be very proud of this group of players and grateful to their parents for allowing us to coach them. We built something special together which has transcended the football field. That said, here are few things we learned along the way…


More touches on the ball

Smaller rosters naturally translate into more touches on the ball. We typically carried 5 or the maximum-allowed of 6 players to maximize time on the ball. All players had about the same technical and tactical level and played an equal amount of time.

Technical aptitude and tactical awareness

Technical aptitude is enhanced by the amount of repetitions generated by smaller rosters. Specifically, muscle memory in a competitive environment is gradually developed to the point of normalcy; it ultimately leads to higher confidence and creativity on the ball. For example, if you have a player who likes to dribble, 3v3 has a ton of space for them to hone that technical skill, become proficient at it, and try out new skills.

Even though it’s a small sided competition, players are tasked to cover a lot of ground which teaches them accountability: play offense and defense simultaneously. The game requires constant decision making by the use of imaginary geometric triangles on the field to figure out ways to outnumber the opponent in order to create scoring opportunities. Players not only learn tactical (positional) awareness but also movement off the ball which can be extrapolated naturally to a normal size football field.


Of all the football development tools, 3v3 is probably the least expensive and the one that requires the least time commitment. It’s typically half of a day worth of short-duration games (normally in the offseason and a Saturday) which is also very fun-packed for players and parents. Sometimes the out of town tournaments could last two to three days but those would normally take place over a holiday weekend and the cost is not significantly higher.

In Texas, there is plenty of strong competition; thus traveling is not necessary and costs can be kept to a minimum. However, if there is a strong desire to compete elsewhere or the “harshness” of the winter prevents outdoor play, there’s always 3v3 indoors.

Year-round competition

The game is versatile and can be played indoors too. Most of our competitions were outdoors but we certainly enjoyed playing indoors as well. The indoor 3v3 tournaments were sometimes played in basketball gyms, indoor soccer fields, or futsal courts (3v3s led us to discover futsal at City Futsal). The tournament experience with family and friends was unparalleled; those football bonds are still strong to this day.

Collin Smith and Jogo playing against each other in an indoor 3v3


We loved having the opportunity to play with players from other clubs. We now reminisce about those times via pictures and clips.

Not only were the tournaments good opportunities to socialize with other families but great bonding times where we created a lot of our own family memories.


More than the football aspect of the entire experience, the boys will always cherish memories with friends, family, teammates, opponents and most of all, the fact that we got to coach them. Those 3v3 memories will live in our hearts forever.

MOB WC 3v3 Champions , Orlando, FL(01.19.13)

Style and drip

Just like the players wanted to express themselves on the field via their football, they loved selecting their “drip” (and team name) regularly. We mostly stuck to two uniforms per tournament. All were replicas of the original jerseys and purchased via a Chinese supplier for less than 25 dollars for the entire kit. They were very affordable and allowed us to wear different kits like the professionals. That was another cool reason for playing 3v3. The kids could emulate their idols and personalize their jerseys. Jogo became well known as Jogo via his jerseys but let’s not forget that the original Jogo was Johan.



Johan’s first coach at Solar was completely against 3v3s. We always assumed he felt threatened by the possibility of losing players at these events as 3v3 teammates normally belonged to different clubs and inevitably parents socialize. It became difficult to request permission to participate in 3v3s even during off weekends as Johan’s Solar coach frowned upon it. He was an older coach too but we felt this truncated his 3v3 development to a degree.

Similarly, there are parents who think that football development tools such as 3v3s and futsal are NOT adequate for goalkeepers. That couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Jogo played futsal with what would have been one of the U17 MNT goalkeepers (U17 MNT WC was recently cancelled): Jeff Dewnsup whose footwork was phenomenal for his age. This was probably one of the characteristics that gave him national team visibility. Both Johan and Jogo played 3v3 with numerous goalkeepers whose footwork improved as a result of the competitions. Truth be told 3v3 can become addictive.


3v3s are very addictive. They are high scoring ordeals which could be decided in the last second of the game. They cannot get any more American than that.

There are parents who want to compete in them all the time and there’s nothing wrong with that level of involvement. However, at some point it could create a conflict with club football and other life activities. As long as your family knows how to manage the experience and you have a club coach who supports it, go for it. The 3v3 coach may want to define a style of play and shuffling players due to their unavailability makes it challenging to gel as a team. We were fortunate to have 6 very committed families for several years who were as crazy as we were about it.

There are many tools to build and improve a player’s football development. Each one serves a unique purpose. There’s no silver bullet to develop a footballer; there are however, many ways to nurture the love of the game by “making it fun”. As you reflect on your achievements for 2020 and plan for your kids activities for next year, consider incorporating 3v3s into their pool of available activities. You won’t regret it.

On a personal note, we will conclude this post wishing everyone a better year than 2020. For the Gómez’s, it’s was a challenging year in many regards but a blessing in others. We’ll be re-capping the year in a future post. For now, let’s be hopeful, patient, positive and most of all, safe. As always, reach out to info@thegomezway.com for comments, questions, etc. Thanks for reading us and happy 2021. #theGomezway.

Fútbol sala: una herramienta de formación para los chavos

Cuando se habla de la formación de un futbolista, no existe una barita mágica que funcione para todos los jugadores. En términos generales, el desarrollo de cualquier aptitud en la vida require una dósis de talento natural, mucha práctica, pero lo más importante es un continuo deseo de superación personal. En el caso de nuestros chavos, el deseo de jugar fútbol nunca escaceó. En realidad, tan sólo tuvimos que encontrar formas creativas de exponenciar su pasión a través de variaciones del deporte de las masas (fútbol sala, fútbol rápido, fútbol de playa, 3 vs 3, retas callejeras, fútbol tenis, etc.). Hoy, escribiremos algo breve sobre el fútbol sala. El fútbol sala ofrece un sin número de variaciones del fútbol normal (fut regular) que lo convierten en una gran herramienta de desarrollo futbolístico y para ser sincero, también es súper divertido. Por mucho tiempo los chavos lo practicaron de forma simultánea al fut regular. No nada más les ayudó en su formación si no que también les permitió competir a un nivel muy alto desde temprana edad.

Equipo nacional de futsal de Estados Unidos. 07.22.15 (Medellin, Colombia)

Ventajas del fútbol sala


En Estados Unidos, el fútbol sala se juega en duelas bajo techo lo cual representa una gran ventaja sobre el fut regular debido a que las inclemencias del tiempo nunca son una limitante. Por esa razón, el fútbol sala se puede jugar todo el ano generando oportunidades adicionales para refinar el buen trato de balón. Además, nuestro pais es tan grande que hay muchos lugares recónditos donde escacean ligas competitivas de fut regular; en tales lugares, el fútbol sala puede que sea una alternativa ya que tan sólo se require una cancha de basketball y porterías hechas de PVC y muy pocos jugadores. El video de abajo muestra la presentación de un amistoso internacional jugado en Toronto, Canadá en Diciembre del 2015 (la temperatura ambiente al momento de ese partido era de 10 grados Fahrenheit). El partido se llevó a cabo sin inclemencia climatológica alguna.

Jogo representando a los Estdos Unidos en amistosos internacionales 12.26.15 (Toronto, Canadá)

Número limitado de jugadores

En otros países, se pueden encontrar canchas de fútbol sala adentro de escuelas y parques públicos. Estados Unidos todavía no se encuentra a ese nivel aunque nostros si hemos ubicado alguna que otra cancha libre en algunos lugares públicos. El fútbol sala se juega en canchas/duelas (bajo techo la mayoría del tiempo) con un máximo de 5 jugadores por equipo con cambios ilimitados. El número reducido de cambios inevitablemente se traduce en una mayor frequencia de toques de balón. Por eso, el desarrollo futbolístico se acrecenta durante los dos periodos de intensa acción.

Cuadro titular en primer partido internacional 07.23.15 (Medellín, Colombia)

Espacios reducidos se traduce en toma de decisiones mas rápida

El tamaño reducido de las canchas de fútbol sala requiere una toma de decisiones más rápida. Esta habilidad ayuda a los jugadores cuando juegan en las canchas del fútbol regular donde se cuenta con más tiempo. De igual forma, la precisión de los pases incrementa debido a los espacios reducidos y también por eso se usa un balón más pesado.

US Youth Futsal National Team tryouts 07.11.15 (Olathe, Kansas)

Mejor control/distribución debido al balon más pesado:

En el fútbol sala se usa un balón más pesado que inevitablemente requiere que los jugadores tengan un mejor control y distribución del mismo. Aprender a dominar un balón más pesado requiere muchas repeticiones y una aptitud única. Asi mismo, el fútbol sala fomenta toques con más partes del pie que el fútbol regular. La parte inferior y la punta del pie se usan de manera muy frecuente. También, todos los jugadores de “campo” están constantemente moviendose por toda la duela lo cual fomenta el apredizaje ofensivo y defensivo del juego además del toque de balón con las seis partes del pie. A pesar de que si existen posiciones fijas en el fútbol sala, los jugadores cubren toda la duela de manera estrategica ayudándoles a manejar ambos perfiles (izquierdo y derecho). Además, el movimiento sin balón es un gran beneficio del fútbol sala ya que es muy obvio cuando algun jugador se queda parado en una sola posición por más de tres segundos.

Jogo scoring a goal against an English team at the World Futsal Championships 12.28.14 (Blanes, Spain)

Juego puro que fomenta la creatividad:

El fútbol sala no es un juego dominado por los jugadores más fuertes, altos, ó rápidos. De hecho, la mayoría del tiempo, nuestros chavos jugaban con/contra jugadores mayores lo cual requería una habilidad mayor de toma de decisiones rápidas y técnica individual. Los partidos de fútbol sala son normalmente limpios y fáciles de arbitrear. Los equipos tratan de honrar el espíritu del juego al intentar meter la mayor cantidad de goles. A diferencia del fútbol regular, el fútbol sala fomenta la creatividad y estilo único. Los jugadores se pueden expresar libremente incorporando trucos en sus estilos de juego sin necesidad de violar ninguna regla del juego.

Las reglas del juego son sencillas:

A pesar de que el número de reglas del fútbol sala es menor a las del fútbol regular (ej: no existe el fuera de lugar, saque de banda, etc.), los jugadores de fútbol sala constantemente están pensando en ciertas reglas (ej. balón sobre la linea de banda, retraso de juego, regresársela al portero, etc.). La agilidad mental y la capacidad de reacción son aptitudes desarrolladas por el fútbol sala. En realidad, las pocas reglas, en lugar de complicar el juego, lo convierten en un juego muy entretenido.


Marcar goles es divertido; en el fútbol sala, es muy común anotar más de 5 goles por partido entre ambos contrincantes. De hecho, el tamaño de las canchas contribuye al dramatismo que acompaña los partidos ya que muchos se deciden en los últimos segundos. Los marcadores con muchos goles marcados permiten que los espectadores y jugadores gocen de una experiencia mayor. La confianza de los jugadores se eleva al marcar más que en el fútbol regular donde no se marcan tantos goles y no todos los jugadores tienen oportunidades reales de marcar.

Campeones nacionales de futbol sala U10 02.04.15 (Olathe, Kansas)


El fútbol sala es una deporte que aumenta el autoestima. Al menos aquí en los Estados Unidos, muchos jugadores empiezan sin saber mucho acerca del deporte pero pronto terminan dominándolo. Entre más temprano se empiece a jugar mejor. Desarrollar un jugador con una autoestima alta no tiene precio; la confianza después se permea a otros aspectos de sus vidas incluyendo: el campo, el aula de clases, y otras actividades extra curriculares. De igual forma, es muy común ver a las niñas jugar fútbol sala con niños que también sirve para aumentar la autoestima.

Desventajas del fútbol sala


Algunos clubs/coaches chapeados a la antigüita, no congenian con la idea del fútbol sala. De hecho, algunos profes lo ven como un obstáculo formativo al fútbol regular. En algunos casos, la ignorancia juega un papel ya que es un juego desconocido en algunos países (ej. Estados Unidos). En otros casos, el miedo es infundado ya que representa una alternativa al desarrollo futbolístico de los jugadores. La ahora defunta liga de DA apoyaba al fútbol sala. Entendían muy bien su contribución e incorporaron al menos un torneo de fútbol sala por año. Desafortunadamente, dudamos que la nueva liga de MLS continue con esa tradición.

Jonathan Gomez: USSDA U13 futsal showcase: FC Dallas vs Lonestar 01.18.17 (Houston, TX)

Malos hábitos:

Hay una corriente de pensamiento que cree que entre más tiempo se juega el fútbol de sala, más dificil será la transición al fútbol regular. No existe suficiente información que corrobore esa hipótesis. Sin embargo, es cierto que mientras se juega fútbol sala, hay ciertos aspectos del fútbol regular que no se practican: saque de banda, cabezasos, tiros libres, fueras de lugar, etc. En nuestra opinión, ambos deportes pueden (y deben de) ser combinados el mayor tiempo posible para desarrollar los aspectos de cada uno.

Futsal: impact on our boys

When it comes to football development, there is no silver bullet that works for every player. In general, developing an aptitude for anything in life requires some innate talent, repetitions, patience but most importantly a desire to hone the skill (grit). In our boys’ case, the desire to pursue football was always present from the onset; then, we just had to find creative ways to organically nurture that passion via variations of the beautiful game (futsal, indoor football, 3 vs 3, beach football, street football, football tennis, etc.). Today, we will briefly write about Futsal or (Fut)bol (Sal)a which is where the name comes from. Our boys practiced it (concurrently with “outdoor” football) for several years; it not only aided in their football development in a fun environment, but also provided a platform to compete at a high level at an early age. For parents with young kids interested in football, you may find this very useful. BTW, thank you US Youth Futsal and City Futsal.

Over half of the boys who represented the USA in Toronto in 2015 in an international futsal competition have gone on to also represent the USA at different football YNT levels: Jeffrey Dewsnupp, Andrew Durkin, Evan Rotundo, Blake Pope, Kaïlé Auvray, and Jogo

Before I dive into the details, let me explain the picture above. In the picture, the U12 futsal players represented the US in 2015 at an international futsal tournament in Canada. In 2019 (and prior), over half of the players in the picture have also represented the US youth national setup at the 2004 or 2003 level. Coincidence? Maybe. Among some of those in the picture are: Evan Rotundo (Schalke 04 – Bundesliga), Kaïlé Auvray (Lille – French Ligue), Blake Pope (Charlotte – ECNL), Jeffrey Dewsnupp (RSL – MLS), Andrew Durkin (Atlanta United – MLS), Jogo (Louiville City FC – USL-C). There are others players but my mind draws blank at the moment. Talent attracts talent from an early age.

Here are some benefits of playing futsal

Year-round competition:

In the US, futsal is played mostly indoor on hard surfaces. This poses a great advantage over outdoor football because inclement weather is hardly a factor; thus futsal can be played year round or exclusively during football’s offseason increasing repetitions (practice time). Also, our country is so large that there are remote places where regular/competitive football leagues aren’t present or abundant, futsal could be an alternative as it only requires a basketball court, two goals made out of PVC and very few players. The video below shows the introduction to an international friendly futsal game played in Toronto, Canada in December of 2015 (outside temperature was 10 degrees Fahrenheit) with the participants from the picture above.

Jogo representing the USA in international friendlies 12.26.15 (Toronto, Canada)

Small teams equates to more touches on the ball:

Other countries have futsal courts in schools and public parks. The US is not quite there yet. Futsal is played on small (mostly indoor) fields/courts with 5 players per team and unlimited subs. The smaller team size inevitably translates into more touches on the ball for all players involved (even the goalkeeper -GK-). In fact, the GK is one of the players who benefits the most as foot touches are increased and sometimes the GK just becomes another field player. Thus, the football development is magnified throughout its two fast-paced and intense halves.

Johan representing the USA in international friendlies 07.26.16 (Medellin, Colombia)

Tighter spaces requires faster decision making:

The small courts require faster decision making by the players which translate really well onto outdoor football fields where players have more time to make a decision. Similarly, with smaller spaces, the precision of the passes has to be enhanced which is part of the reason for the heavier futsal ball.

Better ball control/distribution due to heavier ball:

Futsal uses a heavier ball which forces players (GK included) to have better control and distribution of it. Regulating the weight of the heavier ball requires repetitions. Futsal encourages touches with more parts of the foot than regular football. Also, since all field players are constantly moving up and down the court playing offense as well as defense, touches with different part of the foot are frequent. Specifically, touches with the bottom of the foot and the toes are encouraged. Let us be clear, there are fixed field positions in futsal; however, players tend to roam the entire court and in the process learning how to use both feet (strong and weak) equally. Last but not least, movement off the ball is a huge benefit learned at an early age. A player standing idle in the same spot for over 3 seconds is spotted easily.

Jogo scoring a goal against an English team at the World Futsal Championships 12.28.14 (Blanes, Spain)

Cleaner game encourages creativity:

Futsal is not a sport dominated by the strongest, tallest, fastest players; in fact, most of the time, our boys played with/against older players which magnified the need for quicker decision making and most importantly technical skill. Futsal games are normally very clean and easy to officiate. Teams are there to try to score as many goals as possible. Unlike regular outdoor football, futsal encourages creativity and flair. Players are able to express themselves incorporating tricks into their games styles w/out breaking any rules.

Johan playing up with City Futsal National Champions (99s and 00s) 02.04.14 (Olathe, KS)

Rules are simple:

Although the rules in futsal are fewer than in outdoor (ex. no offside, throw-ins, etc.), players in futsal are constantly thinking about them (ex. ball on the line in a kick-in, delay of game, passing it back to the GK, etc.) and abiding by them which is not the case in outdoor football. Most outdoor football players just play the game especially at an early age. Mental agility and quick decision-making are aptitudes developed by futsal. These rules, far from making the game more complicated, make it more fun.

Johan Gomez: USYFNT U16 soccer: USYFNT vs Itagui 07.27.16 (Medellin, Colombia)


Scoring goals is fun; it’s very typical to have futsal games where at least 5 goals are scored between the two teams. Not only that, the small courts make for many dramatic games decided in the last seconds of the match. High scoring games make it very enjoyable for the fans and the players involved. Ultimately, the players’ confidence is boosted by their ability to score or assist more often than outdoor football.

Johan representing the U14 US national futsal team 07.31.15 (San Jose, Costa Rica)


Futsal is a confidence booster. Here in the US, everyone starts off not knowing much about the sport but quickly learns the game. The earlier a player starts the better. Having a confident player is priceless; the confidence then permeates to other aspects of their lives including (but not limited to): the pitch, the classroom, and any other extra-curricular activities. Similarly, it’s very common for girls to play futsal with boys and that is also another confidence booster for girls.

One of the girls in the video below, grew up playing futsal, 3 vs 3, with Jogo. She now is (if not the best), one of the top three 2004 US YNT prospects and a candidate to play up in the upcoming U17 Women’s WC.

Jogo playing futsal tennis with Jaedyn Shaw

Unisex and friendships:

Unlike regular football, futsal leagues are very much unisex especially at the younger ages. The friendship bonds both of they boys formed playing futsal have helped them become better players. They continue to push each other all the time as some of them pursue a professional path. Jogo does a good job at staying in touch with most futsal players especially those he often sees at YNT camps. Three amigos pictured below:

Quimmie Ordoñez (FC Cincinnati), Kailé Auvray (Lille), and Jogo (Louisville City)

Inexpensive sport:

In other countries, futsal is free to play as the courts abound in public parks. In the US, it’s not free but it’s not crazy expensive. For starters, there’s no one year commitment, and the uniforms are dirt cheap. If you can, join the local league or play youth pick up futsal games as often as possible. In our case, we would help the boys either join an existing team(s) and/or form a team to join the summer and winter leagues. This activity resulted in additional exposure which ultimately led them to be scouted for international competition.

National and international tournament/friendlies

Futsal is a FIFA (football world governing body) sanctioned sport. As such, it has different levels of competitions. In our case, both of the boys started at the local futsal place and worked their way to represent the US in multiple competitions around the world. Futsal provided a platform to see places and compete against traditional futsal countries in North, South, Central America and Europe.

Johan and Joel Bustamante played for the USYFNT 07.29.16 (Medellin, Colombia),. Note: From that relationship Johan invited Joel join the FC Dallas Academy and they also got to play outdoor football together. They continue to be best friends as they both play in Europe.

Here are some disadvantages of playing futsal


Some old-school football clubs/coaches do not support it. Some may even see it as a hindrance to football. In some cases, ignorance plays a role as it’s not a popular sport in some countries (US mostly). In other cases, the fear is driven by just having an alternative to football development. The now defunct DA league supported it, they started understanding its value and incorporated at least one futsal showcase tournament per year. Unfortunately, we honestly doubt that the new MLS youth league will continue that tradition.

U14 futsal showcase FC Dallas vs Lonestar 02.06.16 (Dallas, TX)

Bad habits:

There’s a school of thought that believes that the longer futsal players stick with that sport, the harder the transition to football will be. There’s no data to support that hypothesis. However, it’s true that while playing futsal, some aspects of the outdoor game are neglected/not practiced: throw-ins, headers, free-kicks, offsides, positioning, etc. As a result, we recommend that both sports be played concurrently until it’s no longer feasible.

In the video below, you will see Rodrygo Goes (Real Madrid first team player and Brazilian sensation) doing some drills before his Santos FC futsal team faced a City Futsal all-star team that included Johan in Dallas. That game was played on June 29, 2014. In Rodrygo’s case, futsal definitely didn’t hinder his development. Futsal is popular in many countries like Brazil where players like Ronaldinho, Neymar, among others practiced it without compromising their ability to play regular football.

Brazilian powerhowse Santos FC futsal team with current Real Madrid super star Rodrygo Goes (07.23.14)
Rodrygo Goes visited Dallas in 2014 to play a tournament at City Futsal. Johan had the pleasure of playing against him in the championship game.