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Is 6v6 Part of your Lacrosse Practice Plan? Drop it for Small-Sided Games.

There's one truth in lacrosse that generally holds true: 

The more skilled and athletic team will generally be the victor. 

Team schemes can only get you so far. This is especially true when there is not enough skill or talent to execute those schemes. To help our players develop, we need to prioritize drills that maximize development in skill and lacrosse IQ.

What's wrong with 6v6?

We'll just come out and say it: It's terrible for developing skill. Only one player has the ball at a time getting work carrying the ball, throwing the ball, or shooting the ball. We'll admit, 6v6 can be good for developing IQ, but is there anything that can be learned in 6v6 that can't be learned in other, more efficient ways?

Small-Sided Games

We believe strongly in the use of small-sided games. Small-sided games reduce the number of players on the field and can layer in additional constraints. Your options for small-sided games are endless and they do a few things much better than we will be able to accomplish in 6v6. Small-sided games amplify aspects of the game to create a better understanding of team spacing.
On Offense: With fewer players in the game, there is a higher likelihood to handle the ball on offense. This means more reps and opportunities to have the ball in your stick; instead of being 1 of 6 players on offense, you are 1 of 2, 3 or 4. For those players that are off-ball, there is a better chance of contributing directly to the outcome of the play; either through an assisted goal or by creating space for a goal scorer. 
On Defense: Frankly, there's less room to hide when there are fewer players on the field. In general, defending more space is more difficult, so any lapse in play is more likely to create visible consequences, like being scored on. Your defensive players will get more reps defending on-ball, develop a higher sense of urgency to help off-ball, and my favorite, communication needs are amplified.

You can even structure your small-sided games to enforce key concepts that are part of your 6v6 offense.

Need some ideas?

All of these diagrams are available in our public playbook. Feel free to copy and make adjustments for your own team playbook.

3v3 in a triangle

We like this set-up for drilling your basic triangle motion. General rules to teach are for the offensive players: Dodger should pull the slide to stretch the field, adjacent player to follow the dodge for the outlet, and the crease man to fill space to stretch the recovery.

3v3 in a line

This set-up is great for highlight movement that you often see in a 1-4-1. Defensively, it helps players identify sliding "up-the-chain."

Split-field 3v2

This set-up is great for isolating the push-pull when the offense has created a small-sided advantage. Defense should protect the middle.

4v4 in a line

Similar to 3v3 in a line, but now with another player added at 'X.'

4v4 in a box (with a fox)
Not really with a fox, but we were on a roll. I like 4v4s out of the box to drill pass-pass-dodge movement in our offense.


In each of these examples, your players will have more opportunities to handle the ball themselves to develop their skills while also seeing more rewarding off-ball opportunities to develop their Lacrosse IQ. We all need our practices to be more productive. By shifting away from traditional 6v6 at practice and toward small-sided games, we will all run more efficient and effective practices for our players.

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