Lax Coach Mike: A Spontaneous 4v3 Lacrosse Drill

By Mike Muetzel,

I love very fast-paced transition lacrosse drills but even typical 4v3 or 3v2 drills can get monotonous when the ball and players are always in the same place. In addition, we are hearing more and more from NCAA lacrosse coaches on 'shrinking' the field or area where the drill takes place to encourage quicker, shorter passes and ball movement. Finally, I am always looking to find quick drills that also can be run in pre-game warm- ups ... actually I am having a lot of success in changing the transition drill portion of the warm-ups from game to game to keep players engaged. I believe I first saw a version of this drill from my good friend and great coach Jeff Goldberg in Florida, but here is how we run this effective and fun drill.

We begin by separating the short sticks and poles in different colored pennies. If you have a smaller roster, you may want to integrate rotating some of your middies into the defensive lines or just run the same drill in a 3v2 format. We have a goalie in the cage, and on the wings in the alleys, on one side a line of two defensive players and in the opposite alley a single line of defenders.

Just outside the top of the box, we have four lines of offensive players (short sticks) in kind of an arc look. Each of the four lines has a pile of balls, and we want all offensive players in line to always have a ball in their stick. Next, the coach assigns a number, one through four, to each offensive line. Now we go. [See the illustration at the bottom of the article.]

The drill begins as the coach yells out a single number, one, two, three, or four. On that mark, the two defensive players in the one alley and a defender from the single line in the other alley need to sprint inside and get set to play, find and cover the ball, and then rotate and recover on each pass.

Once the coach has yelled out a number, the offensive player in that specific line carries the ball into the drill, sprints into the box, and we play. The players at the beginning of each of the other respective offensive lines drop the balls out of their sticks and quickly enter the box to play. Now we have 4v3 in a relatively tight area.

Defenders need to match up as they are obviously playing a man short in this drill. We want to focus on their slide and rotation, but even more importantly, their recovery to the inside following the first offensive pass. Offensively, we want to move the ball to a quick shot in just 5 to 10 seconds.

Each rotation of this drill is very fast. So in the first rotation the coach calls out "One!" and the ball is carried in from the line designated as Line One. (The first players in lines two, three, and four drop the balls out their stick and enter the drill.) After the quick rotation, the coach yells out "Four!" and the next group plays 4v3, but the ball is carried in by the player in Line Four, while the others drop the balls out of their sticks and so on.

The coach can change the number of the line he/she calls out in each rotation or call the same line number two or three times in repetition; just keep it moving fast. Thus, the players in the repetition of the drill need to sprint out of the drill as the next group is sprinting into the drill. Set up a rotation. If you were in Line One, you go to Line Two and so on ... and have the defenders rotate lines as well. Our players love the drill, as it is always different and very face-paced.

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