Lax Coach Mike: A Drill the Marquette Way, 4v4 ... x3

By Mike Muetzel,

We continue to talk and learn from great NCAA lacrosse coaches about how to keep practices fun and challenging and, perhaps most important, fresh and different every day. College coaches very rarely run the same drill two days in a row, keeping it interesting for players.

Thus, it is critical for coaches to have an arsenal of drills in each category: transition, 3v2, 4v3, and so on. It is not quite as easy with drills that are "even" aside from where players begin the drill, emulating a formation, or a part of a formation.

In a recent interview with Joe Amplo from Marquette, I loved the way he combined these practice plan principles. In this case, I want to describe how they run their 4v4's, although the same principles apply to spice it up in 5v5 as well.

The Basics

In the case of 4v4, mo st NCAA lacrosse coaches begin the drill in an offensive set you might describe as a "Y". We want players to feel comfortable (even in a drill with fewer players) operating and initiating from where they might be located in our 6v6 offensive formations. The four players begin the drill in a part of your offensive set, thus typically,

1. Two men behind, a player in the crease, and one player up top
2. One man at X, one behind, and two up top
3. No player in the crease emulating an 'open' set

But we could position the four offensive players anywhere to begin the rep.

Many coaches we talk to run 4v4 in practice as much or more than they run 6v6. Wide open, more room, still have you slide packages etc., but the 4v4 is still the 4v4, and there are only so many ways to place players to begin. We can also spice it up with a ground ball competition to begin the dill, but nonetheless, there are only so many ways to make it interesting and different. In the case of Marquette, they add a true competitive twist to the 4v4.

The Marquette Way

The 4v4 is basically the same, but each offensive group stays in the drill for three repetitions. Each quick repetition is from a different 4v4 set, and the entire 3-set rep is only a minute or so.

The first four offensive players very quickly enter the drill and get in the first Y formation. The coach initiates the drill by throwing a pass to any of the four. We play even 4v4 for 20 seconds. On a quick whistle, the offensive players go to the second formation, and the coach throws a quick pass to any one of them, and we play, and so on through the three reps and formations.

Following the third rep, four new offensive players (immediately into the first Y formation) and four new defensive players enter the drill, and we begin with a quick pass from a coach.

Defensively, this is also a challenge, as with each 4v4 comes a unique slide package. For example, when we have an offensive and defensive player in the crease, perhaps you are coaching a crease slide. However, out of an open set, your slide package might be adjacent or even 'coma.'

To keep this lacrosse drill running at the intended fast pace, we need to make sure we have the lines and rotation clearly spelled out to players. It is far more fun if it runs very fast and the next groups are immediately in the right place, ready to get that first pass.

Want to make it really interesting? We ended practice with 10 minutes of this drill. And even though we ran three reps with each group, we kept score. If the offense won two of the three reps (you as the coach define a win for the offense and a win for the defense), then the defensive group had to do a quick run to the far restraining line and then come back and get ready to go again.

Anxious to get your thoughts! 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.


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