Lax Coach Mike: Practice Two-Man Games Like They Do at JHU

By Mike Muetzel,

In our recent podcast with Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala, he shared an interesting twist on a lacrosse drill designed to focus on two-man games both offensively and defensively. He said that this season in the Hopkins 'motion' offense there are more two-man games combined with the fact that they are now defending more two-man scenarios than ever before.

As a student of the game for over 30 plus years, I am really amazed at the resurgence of two-man games, picks, screens and 'slips' that have now become so common in college men's lacrosse. It is a great way to give zone defenses trouble on the weak side, or perhaps it is simply a direct result of more Canadian and box lacrosse players on college rosters.

Regardless of whether you are a coach who uses a lot of picks and screens, we need to do a better job of preparing teams because, even if you do not run it, your players are going to see it from teams we are competing against. I know that I and many other coaches need to add a renewed focus on these scenarios in our practices.

In the past, we have run two-man lacrosse drills from the top of the box with middies (LSMs) and from behind with poles and attack players. One of the things I love about the Hopkins way is the open-field nature of their drills.

Basic Set-up

We will use the box as the boundaries, of if you do not have a box but are on a football field start by the using the hash marks for boundaries. There is an offensive player at the upper corner of the box, an offensive player closer to GLE on that side of the box, and the same on the other or far side of the box. So even though there are four players offensively and defensively in the box, it is really almost cut in half with two smaller box playing areas. And we have a goalie in the cage.

Only two offensive players on each side will be active at a time in each rep that will play a two-man game with two defenders. Then the drill quickly toggles to the other side with new players and continues side to side.

We also have a total of four, but two defensive players, on each side of the box, and they rotate in and out with each rep. So two offensive and two defensive players are live at a time.

At Hopkins, the drill begins with a whistle and a pass. Remember that we have two live offensive players and two offensive players waiting on the other side for the next rep. The initial pass for each rep comes from the top offensive player on the far side. He is only active to throw the pass or feed to begin the drill on that side of the field or box.

The pass or feed comes in from the far top opposite corner, and we play 2v2 focusing on screens, picks, slips etc. and on our techniques and communication both offensively and defensively. Or you might want to add a variation to this where the initial feed is to an offensive player attempting to begin the drill catching the pass off a screen set by his partner.

According to Coach Pietramala, the rep may last only five seconds on one side or possibly up to 30 seconds if the defense does a great job defending the two-man game. But we need to keep moving the drill side-to-side quickly.

Once the drill begins, offensive players cannot pass back to the original passer; it is just a two-man game. However, they can screen, pick or slip or even go back door from the top of the box, the wings, or even behind the cage. They can pick or re-pick as much as they like. There might a lot of freedom for the players, or you might want them to run something specific like a pass and pick or whatever is the specific piece of your offense on which you want to focus.

Think of it as a fast-paced 2v2 beginning with a feeder with a lot of options.

I ran it this week in practice, and we struggled with the entire 'half a box' to play in, but after a few reps the players loved it! is a unique site for lacrosse coaches, offering drills and ideas from the greatest coaches in the country. E-mail your comments to

All of the previous articles on coaching and drills from Lax Coach Mike can be found on the Lacrosse Drills, Instruction, and Training page. His eBook is also available.


Create a free lacrosse website