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Could 3-On-3 Football Be The Key To Drawing More Youth To The Sport?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- What came out of the postponement of high school football In Minnesota has been a lot of creative ideas to grow the sport.

Travis Walsh, a standout college player and veteran college coach of more than two decades, has found a way to make it fun. He noticed kids playing basketball and soccer, but not football -- so he asked them why.

"I said, 'What is it that you like about basketball and soccer better?' The number-one thing I heard was, 'I can get the ball when I want to,'" Walsh said.

Those interactions inspired him to create three-on-three football. The reason is simple: You will touch the ball.

"Quarterbacks, on average, just if you took sheer averages, are getting 100 throws. We had a receiver the other night who had 43 in-game catches. We had a quarterback that threw 27 touchdowns," Walsh said.

Travis Walsh
Travis Walsh (credit: CBS)

He introduced it this summer and fall, with tournaments and in-house competition. The goal is to make it enough fun that kids keep playing into high school, and convert to 11 on 11.

"And I'm looking at this from a let's regrow football [perspective], and then let's do the best job we can retaining student-athletes so they can get to those really good coaches and programs and cultures, 9-12 in this state," he said.

With COVID-19 claiming much of summer and early fall, Walsh has taken this to some satellite stops to complement what coaches are already doing.

"And that's where I'm saying 11-on-11, great. Seven-on-seven, absolutely need it. But I think there's also a place for the three-on-three model," he said.

When kids have fun, they are probably going to come back and do it again.

"But I'm also realizing there's going to be a place for this," Walsh said. There's no doubt in my mind."

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