Coaching Drill: Hopkins 3v2 with GB Competition

By Mike Muetzel,

In our recent podcast with Coach Pietramala from Johns Hopkins, he shared a number of great drills, including this awesome twist on a configuration we all use in practice. The 3v2 is just a great format to help players improve.

Offensively, there is a lot of space and always a player open. Defensively, it is the core of sliding fundamentals; one defensive player covers the ball while the other is in the 'hole.' After forcing a pass, the defensive player 'recovers' to the hole with his hips open and the stick extended to the inside to discourage or knock down the cross or skip pass.

Many traditional coaches run these drills top to bottom or perhaps in their pregame warm-up with defenders coming from behind GLE. But I encourage you to run them like NCAA coaches often run them: from everywhere and from multiple formations. Take away the predictability, as lacrosse is not a predictable game. We like to use a line of five players (three on offense, two on defense) in each alley or behind or even from the midfield line if you want to add a conditioning element.

Like you, I have been guilty of always rolling the ball towards one of the three offensive players to begin the fast paced drill. But in this configuration, Coach Pietramala offers this and more. In addition to the ball movement and defensive fundamentals, we get an extremely competitive ground ball element, more options for both offense as well as defense, and a great competitive element. It sounded so simple when he described the configuration. In its base form, simply line up five players, three on offense (white pennies in this case) and two on defense (blue pennies) a few steps behind GLE. Now go with white, blue, white, blue, then white. We have a goalie in the cage. The coach is above the restraining line with the balls, and he rolls out a ball, with all five competing for the ground ball.

Now we have a true game-like scramble scenario for the ground ball, far more realistic than the way I have been running 3v2. If the offensive players get the ball, we immediately create spacing, with all players in front of the cage and attacking 3v2. They need to get off a shot or a good look at one in five seconds. If the defense gains possession, they need to clear past midfield, and the three white (originally offensive players) need to ride aggressively. In this ride/clear setting, we have the same number of players clearing (the goalie is included) as we do riding. Thus, it is a tough clear, with players working hard to get open or carry and move the ball to breaking players.

The final element that really makes the drill work is competition. In our practice, if the defense cleared the ball past midfield off the ground ball possession (which they did more often than I had expected), all the players in white (not just those in the drill at the time) do 10 push-ups immediately. If the offense scored, then the players in blue had to do 5 push-ups. More often than not, we keep an overall score for the entire 8-10 minutes we run the drill.

Options and Variations

Remember to change your drills every day to keep players engaged. And if you run this version of the drill twice in a week, change the configurations to make it different and challenging. Remember, pace is critical. Do not stop the drill to coach and have 20-30 players stand while you coach just one or two. Coach outside and during (off to the side) to keep the drill moving.

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