Lax Coach Mike: Start 4v4 with a Twist or Three!

By Mike Muetzel,

In my over 230 hours of interviews with top NCAA lacrosse coaches, we find many who are using new drills. The creativity is awesome; however, almost all college coaches still utilize a basic 4v4 drill in practices. The 4v4 allows us to run portions of our offense as well as a first and second slide defensively and all this in a more open field setting where players have a better field of vision.

Often the 4v4 begins in one of two "Y" formations to emulate the offensive set. Two up top, one in the crease, and one behind or two behind, one in the crease, and one up top are the most common formations to begin the traditional drill.

Many coaches are now taking the integration of the offense to a new level. Here are three key techniques that coaches are using to begin 4v4 drills. Perhaps players are better at multi-tasking than we are!

Pass DownPick Down

The formation is four offensive players at the four corners of the box. In this case, the 4v4 begins with a player near the restraining line passing down to a wing attack player and then following his pass by running down and setting a pick for the attack player.

  1. Play off the pick to a shot
  2. Pick and slip
  3. Off-ball cut to a feed off the pick
  4. Or just play following the pick
  5. Reverse the action to a pass from down on GLE up to a middie.

Competition 1v1 Ground Ball, Then Pass-Pass

The formation can be almost anything you choose. Now we have two offensive players competing 1v1 for a ground ball while three other offensive players are positioned wherever you like. Once one of the players gains possession of the ground ball, he is in the 4v4 drill and we play. The player who did not gain possession of the ground ball returns to the line.

Now that we have four offensive players in the drill, the player who gained possession must make a pass, and then there is a second pass, and then we play. This is a great way to reinforce ground ball-pass-pass and get the ball to the weak side or backside pipe.

Pass Then Off-Ball Pick

In this case, I like offensive players again positioned at the four corners of the box. The 4v4 begins with the carrying player making a pass to either his right adjacent or left adjacent. As soon as the pass is made, the other two offensive players need to react quickly. They need to decide who is going to set the off-ball pick and who is going to be the off-ball" cutter. There is no script. The off-ball players must decide how to get in the best position to receive the ball for a shot. Then the first feed to the cutter coming off of the pick begins the 4v4 drill and we play.

I love this option, as it reinforces the other offensive players not to simply watch the ball, but to move and react accordingly. You will find that this will result in a better understanding and a quicker reaction when going with an open set against a zone defense.

Obviously, there are many ways to spice up the traditional 4v4 drill, but by adding these elements (or others you might think of) can be different every day and still offer the great benefits of playing traditional 4v4. 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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