Author: Matthias Nowak

Barça - Drill - Uno-Dos-Tres

Game of 4 vs. 4 on four small goals as a way to improve cognitive skills

Author: Matthias Nowak Individual coach for professionell players, U19/U17 players, brain coach, Life Kinetics Premium Coach, creative and technique trainer FC Bavaria Munich (Women), motivation and success consultant Chamber of Industry and Commerce

‘A person who is never pushed to do something he cannot, will never truly deliver all he is capable of’ John Stuart Mill

Barça drill- Uno-Dos-Tres

As coaches we know that a game of 4 against 4 includes all the major tactical as well as technical elements of a normal soccer game. It is therefore an excellent drill, and not only for our emerging young soccer stars.

The aim of the game ‘Uno-Dos-Tres’ is to have fun while scoring and defending the goal. Along with technical skills, the game helps improve players’ cognitive skills, which are required to better take in information (input) and then store this information. This stored information later allows improved decision making during a game (output). Furthermore, these cognitive skills help improve a player’s attention (focus) and adaptability to new situations and stimuli.

I hope you agree that this is a great objective, and not only for soccer?

Let’s start….. this is how to play:

The game is played 4 vs. 4 on four small goals, and supplemented by three commands from the coach:


When the coach shouts “Uno”, the player who has the ball, has to immediately give it up. He/she simply kicks the ball out of the game and at the same time, the other team has to find a new soccer ball as fast as possible. Three soccer balls are lined up along both sidelines for this purpose (see illustration).


“Dos” means that the direction of the game is switched. Instead of playing from right to left, team A now attacks from left to right. Team B obviously also changes their direction of attack.


“Tres” incorporates “Uno” and “Dos” simultaneously. The team with the ball gives it up and both teams switch sides.


  • For children start only with “Uno” and “Dos”
  • Uno-Dos-Tres can also be played in a competitive tournament (despite the influence from the coach’s commands). However, this is only advisable after the players are familiar and confident with the rules and concepts
  • Do not use the commands too often at the start (especially with small children)
  • At the start, set the game duration to about 15 mins. After each session with the team, add 5 mins to the duration. Max duration should be around 30 mins (but you may add further game variations when you reach this limit)
  • Include sufficient rest periods
  • In order to keep the game flowing, the coach should ensure a good supply of balls
  • As always... keep coaching, and don’t forget to add compliments for good play!
  • Be creative and find solutions for unequal numbers of players


  • Play on diagonal goals. If you choose to use cones or bibs for the goals, you can change their position throughout the game
  • Create two teams but do not provide them with bibs or specific markings which tell the teams apart
  • The coach does not announce “Uno”,”Dos” or “Tres” anymore, rather he replaces the words by movements. For example, instead of saying “Dos” he does a jumping jack
  • Now it is your turn! Which other variations come to your mind? There are many other possibilities....

Materials/Space Required:

Field size of 25mx40m, 4 small goals, minimum 6 soccer balls