Running A Mini 3×3 Sports Tournament

Last week at Youth was the end of term and we decided to deviate from our planned activity and finish up with something fun. It’s almost exam season here so we wanted to do something active that didn’t require our students to prepare anything extra. We are blessed to have a great indoor garage space for high energy games and since all the excess clutter was just cleaned out the previous weekend we were itching to get back out there! So we came up with the idea of a mini sports tournament.

3×3 Sports Tournament

The basic idea of a 3×3 sports tournament is to play short games of different sports with teams made up of 3 players. 5 minute games are what we opted for as they are long enough to have a good go at it but short enough that the teams waiting around don’t get bored.

A 3×3 sports tournament works great for a small number of students, limited space, and lots of games. It also works well for a larger group with access to multiple spaces where multiple games can be played at once.

Run a games night at Youth with a little or a lot of students! Lots of high energy fun and easy to adapt to your space. Tansquared Youth Ministry

Choosing which sports

Pick your sports based on what will work for the space (or spaces) and the gear that you have. We would have loved to have included basketball in our line-up, however we no longer have a hoop in our garage space so that wasn’t an option for us.

Some ideas you can consider:

  • Basketball
  • Netball
  • Touch rugby
  • Soccer
  • Hockey
  • Dodgeball
  • Captain’s ball
  • Volleyball

We picked 4 options and our line-up included soccer, touch rugby, dodgeball and captain’s ball.


There’s a few different ways that you can split into teams. 3 players per team is the simplest, however you may like to have larger teams of 4 or 5 and allow players to sub off and on during games. Some of our teams were 3 players and some were larger with the option of subs.


You can keep score however you like! The system we used was:

  • Win = 3 points
  • Draw = 1 point
  • Loss = 0 points

I’ve made a simple score sheet for up to 4 teams playing 4 games which is in our library for you to download (can’t access it? Sign up here). All you do is add in the points that teams scored against each other for each sport. There’s an example included in the download to clarify.

The tournament

To kick off the mini tournament we had team 1 and team 2 play each other in soccer, followed by team 3 and team 4. The winners of each game (teams 2&3) then played against each other in captain’s ball, followed by the losing teams (1&4). And so on for each sport.

If a game results in a draw, you can award teams 1 point each then have a rep from each team do ‘paper, scissors, rock’ to find out who will play the winning team in the next game.

Running the tournament like this meant that each team got to play each sport. We were only running one game at a time as the garage space is a bit cramped for two games at once, and if we’d had each team play every other team for each sport we’d have ended up playing just soccer all evening. Does that make sense? If you have the space (and referees) to play more than one game at a time then go with that!

If at the end of your mini tournament you have two teams tied for first place, let them choose a sport and have a ‘grand final’ to determine which team is the overall winner.

All in all, a super easy and fun night!

Let’s talk:

  • What’s your experience? Have you run a mini 3×3 sports tournament at Youth?
  • What other sports do your group love that can be adapted for teams of 3?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *