Lax Coach Mike: 1v1 to 3v2 Like They Do It at Salisbury

By Mike Muetzel,

Okay, I am a transition lacrosse junkie who loves to run transition drills. I love fast-paced practices with everybody moving all the time. I like the ball in the air, finding the open man. So, it should come as no surprise that I am a disciple of Salisbury head coach Jim Berkman.

But I also recognize that in a 6v6 settled game scenario, many times we need to manufacture transition in order to capitalize with ball movement and get a shot by the pipe. In addition to ground balls, rides, and other ways to create a transition moment, perhaps we just need to beat somebody with the ball. Then the opposition begins to slide, and we throw two quick passes to get the ball in close for a shot.

I firmly believe the best vehicle to work on the fundamentals of transition is with 3v2 drills. The field space is open for easy vision. Two passes and we are at the backside pipe, and the defensive rolls are straightforward. The defense slides to the ball, then recovers and slides immediately back to the crease area or the hub.

Finally, as I set up this lacrosse drill, I understand that today's players are far better at multi-tasking than we give them credit for.

We can run this drill beginning at a number of places on the field, but here are the basics. We begin as a very straightforward 3v2 with the ball at the top of the box. We begin with two defenders set up as a stack in front of the crease. Typically, the defender covers the ball immediately, and the offensive player passes the ball as the defender recovers to the crease. We are trying to move the ball two or three times faster than defenders can slide, resulting in an easy shot. With me so far?

At Salisbury, Berkman is a great coach of transition lacrosse. He takes the fundamentals of this effective lacrosse drill one step further. In this case, we are going to multi-task a one-on-one offense and defense, drive with the ball, and integrate a portion of a typical motion offense look at the same time.

In a basic 3v2, we begin the repetition with a quick pass or series of quick passes. However, in this case, the drill begins with the initial ball carrier driving 1v1 at the defender. Initially, he is 100% attacking the cage looking for a shot. If beats his man, he is open to shoot. If his defender cuts him off, we begin the fast paced 3v2.


Remember, we are multi-tasking the 1v1 drive to the cage and 1v1 defense, but we are also integrating our motion look as well. Thus, if the ball carrier drives to his right facing the cage, the onside offensive player has to clear through, just like we would do in a motion offense (see diagram below).

In order to make the drill fair for defenders, we also insist that the backside offensive player rotate towards the top of the box, in essence still consistent with our motion look as he is "filling or mirrors" the space depending on your terminology.

And now we play. Although the drill begins with a one-on-one offensive and defensive look and motion, we are still in an extremely fast-paced drill with fast repetitions. Each rep is just 6-10 seconds, and we go quickly with new groups on offense and defense.

If the ball carrier goes to his left, the entire situation is reversed. The defenders are still in a "slide to the ball and recover quickly to the crease area" mode.

If your team is more advanced, you might upgrade to a 1v1 into a 4v3 look. You still clear out for the player driving with the ball, regardless of where the drill is started, and now are defenders are in more of a rotating triangle look.

Have fun! Love 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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