Coaching Drills: 4v3 Both Ways, Stay in the Box!

By Mike Muetzel,

In a recent interview with Ray Rostan, head coach at Hampden-Sydney, he shared a great way to incorporate more touches in a fast paced 4v3 drill that he 'borrowed' originally from Team Canada. There are a lot of ways to vary the drill to keep it interesting, but in this initial version, we go 4v3 both ways, all in the box.

The simple facts are that most goals (almost 70% at the NCAA level) in lacrosse games are scored in mini-snapshots of transition. Yet most coaches continue to have a tendency to practice fast breaks in a more traditional way. These mini-snapshots of transition often come after a player gets beat off a drive, or the ball goes on the ground off a ride, or an ineffective double-team by the defense.

Investing practice time and creative drills in this area just seems to make sense. And although you may have a lot of transition drills in your practice plans, changing up the drills or the looks for players is not only more fun, but it is also more likely to emulate true game scenarios.

First, we want to divide the team into two groups, in this case one group in red pennies and one group in white pennies. Almost all of the coaches we interviewed include poles and shorties in both groups for these drills.

In this version of the drill, start with four lines of players behind the cage at the end line, in this description in red jerseys, and four lines of the rest of the players at the restraining line or at the top of the box. Following each repetition of the drill, players move to the next line at the respective stations. The key rule of the drill is that players need to stay in the box to encourage quick passes in a tight area. This is the Canadian influence on the drill. If your teams are more skilled, you might even tighten the area even more with cones positioned five yards inside the box, which really makes it interesting.

The coach throws a pass or ground ball to one of the players (offensive) at the top of the box in the white pennies. Simultaneously, three players quickly enter the drill from the end line and go to the hole first to play defense. Now we go 4v3, but for a maximum of only 15 seconds, to a shot or goal or a take-away. The last player in a white penny exits the drill and returns to the next of the four lines at the top of the box. This leaves only three white pennies on the field.

The pace of this drill is critical. Now with the same players we are going to switch it up, and red is on offense. The coach quickly rolls or throws a pass to a player in red, and the fourth player from the end line in red enters the drill. Now we are 4v3 with red on offense. Again, they have no more than 15 seconds to play to a shot, or you may choose to make it 10 seconds. So, aside from the single player entering (who last touched the ball) exiting the drill, and the player (now an offensive player) from the end line entering the drill, the same players are engaged for a 4v3 on offense and a 4v3 on defense, all in a 20-30 seconds, with a two-repetition segment.

Following the second segment, we begin again with the next four players in line for white on offense, and three from the end line in red pennies on defense. I cannot stress enough how critical it is to make this all happen quickly, almost to the point where it is a scramble type scenario. The faster, the better. Done correctly, if you have a 25-man roster, each player is back in the drill every two to three minutes.

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