Adding this fun and fast-paced game into practice will get players working on stick skills, pass fakes, shot fakes, quick ball movement, and defensive rotations. As a bonus, it's great for conditioning and imitates transitions from Defense to Offense and vice-versa that your players will see in real games.
We first saw this practice game at a tournament on the West Coast this Fall. The kids were playing in between two fields in between games. They were clearly having a blast. You can play this game anywhere- inside, outside, in a gym, on a tennis court, driveway, etc.
The game is very similar to "3-By" with smaller goals, except the teams are 4-on-4 on a shortened field and you use two smaller goals instead of one. 3-By Lacrosse goals are pretty easy to find online. Or you can use pop-up soccer goals. You could also turn your normal goal face down and use the bottom triangular side as your 3-By or 4-By goal. Maybe this will get your players to actually shoot some bounce shots. (Excellent!)
Even though this is a non-contact training game, we suggest your players still wear helmets and gloves. There is no stick checking or body checking. Control your sticks and play the ball.
Encourage your players to be in good body position on Defense, in between the ball and the goal. Just push on the hips with the gloved hands and drive the man with the ball away from the goal. This is a man-up game, so the Offense should be moving the ball to the open man anyways, not driving to the goal. For loose balls, just get good body position here too and play the ball.
Most importantly, you play with a tennis ball. Repeat that- tennis ball! Anybody can jump in the goal in this game, so you don't want to take shots with a regular lacrosse ball.
Tennis balls definitely encourage soft hands in any game or drill. Their light weight can highlight weaknesses in your players' scooping, catching or throwing technique. Even top coaches like Dave Pietremala (Johns Hopkins/Team USA) use tennis balls in practice.
Here's THE GAME:
Set up a shortened field in the area between the restraining lines--or roughly 40 yards apart. Put goals on either end of the field facing each other. You could also put the goals on the sides of the goal area box and play across the width of the field. This is still roughly 40 yards apart, plus it saves the other half of the field for another drill or activity.
Make teams of four players and Rock-Paper-Scissors for ball, just like when you were a kid. Play games to 3 or 5 points. Check the ball in after every point.
Figure 1. Here is the secret to what makes this game great: One of the Defenders must cover the goal, so your players are constantly working the numbers advantage. The Defense is always man-down in this game. *The man in the goal can come out, but that leaves the goal open for easy shots.*
This is the same situation your players will see any time your team is involved in a 4-on-3 Fast Break in a game, either on Offense or Defense. Use this game to teach your players to understand this common game situation so they can score!
- This is not a game for outside shots. Throw pass and shot fakes to move the Defenders. Look to make "one more" pass. Place your shots and finish inside. Dip and Dunk. Dunk and Dip.
- Keep the intensity up by keeping time and keeping score for each game. The losing team should do some full-field sprints, hill sprints, Up Downs, Push Ups, etc.
- Turn the Goal around facing the other way, or start the ball behind the goal after each point. This gets your players used to attacking from an "Invert" and moving in front of the goal to score, which is another very common game situation.
- Play 3-By: This is the best practice game we've seen in years, no joke. This is where it all started.
- Play 4-By on a half-field: Like half-court basketball--any time the Defense gets the ball, just take it out and bring it back in on Offense.
- Play 5-By and 6-By on a full-size goal: If your players really understand the 3-on-2 and 4-on-3 rotations, you can adapt this game to fit any size practice to imitate broken plays and man down scenarios. Remember to use tennis balls!
- 4-on-3 Fast Break Drill: Use what your players learn in 4-By to really fine-tune this common game situation.
Wherever you play 4-By, take some pictures in front of something recognizable for your city or state so we know where you're from and send them to us!