Seems like every opportunity I get to hear Coach Seaman from Towson talk, or in this case, on our podcast I come away with pages of notes and great ideas.
Most of the top college coaches we interview seem to spend time almost every day in some type of “four on four” (4V4) lacrosse drill. The reason this format is so effective is it incorporates so many aspects of the game, while teaching space and balance to the players as well.
Players have space to see the field, and space to dodge. On the defensive side, the first and second slides are potentially more obvious, and with fewer players on the field even more critical. And for those of us without a huge coaching staff it allows us to run eight players plus a goalie, or nine total in each rotation. This keeps practice moving, the players engaged and fun.
I have always run the 4V4 drills one of two ways. First just a basic four corner beginning formation, with an offensive and defensive player in each corner, or as a second variation, running four offensive players in from the side or up top, while running in four defensive players from the opposite side or from behind the goal. After interviewing Coach Seaman, I now understand why he is a famous DI Coach and me, well just a club coach.
One of the recurring themes we hear from college coaches about their practices is that it is critical to emulate game situations, and to try and incorporate as many skills into each drill, rather than practice each skill individually. These variations on a 4V4 definitely meet the criteria.
In the first variation, the offense starts with a single middie up top, outside the corner of the Box, two offensive players in the crease, and a player behind. OK, so it is already starting to sound more game realistic. And defensively, they are covered, man-to-man, by four defenders, utilizing two poles and two shorties on defense.
The ball goes to the middie up top. This is the second place where Coach Seaman is smarter than me. The middie cannot simply pass off to another offensive player, the middie must dodge and drive to initiate the drill. Now we have a 1V1 drill with a dodge, and one on one defense, leading into a 4V4 drill. Pretty cool.
Now the play runs live for 20-30 seconds or so, or to a shot. If the ball goes on the ground, we immediate clear in transition past the midfield line. The second phase of the drill continues with the ball starting behind this time, with the same rules…. The player must initiate the action with a one on one dodge, slides from the crease and so on.
Then, eight new players take the field (Four on offense, four on defense w 2 poles and two shorties) and the two phases of the drill are repeated.
A second variation of the drill is very similar, only this time, the play begins with two offensive middies up top outside of the restraining line, one offensive player behind at ‘X’ and one offensive player in the crease.
Again the Middie gets the ball and must initiate the action with a one on one dodge, presumably forcing the defense to slide. The same players stay on the field, and the second time around, the ball starts up top with the other Middie initiating the action.
These drills meet all of our criteria. They are fast paced and moving. They emulate game situations in a number of ways. And they are a blast for the kids to run!