Most teams are not blessed with large rosters of skilled players. A causal glance at HS rosters illuminate the fact that most teams carry less than 25 players- even less so on JV rosters. To be successful and develop skill with a limited roster and in a limited HS season ( little or no fall ball, 2 hour practice limitations and a 6-8 week season), is difficult but not impossible. Here are some principles and some strategies that should help you be successful.

1. A Limited roster should force the coach to run an offense that initiates through the attack players- those that are rested . Run an offense that would balance the field in a 2-1-3 set ( counting from behind).

With the three middies on top, this offensive formation prevents (to a degree) fast breaks and since 2 attack are behind - neither would have to carry the ball, but could be used primarily as feeders.

2. On occasion, middies can be played on attack (it provides interesting match-ups). And since the attack are feeders and do not carry as much, the middies could refresh while playing some invert.

3. The offense should possess the ball before shooting. Keep your assignments simple, and your passes short on offense. The common rule is two passes before attempting a dodge or a play - stretch this concept to three or four. Lull the defense into a mistake and rest your players on offense.

Other Strategies

4. Insist that your players are in game shape - never do any drill without performing the drill at game speed. Employ drills that encourage "deceptive conditioning"; that is, use full field or half field drills and then practice your offensive plays and formations in order to condition your athletes in more game-like situations.

5 . Utilize opportunities to rest -
  • Never run after a ball that has ricocheted out of bounds- conserve energy.

  • Buy time on changes of possession - have your attack or defense penetrate the 5 yard player rule forcing the official to ask for your player to move back - buying time for the other players to catch their breath.

  • Always ask for a horn on the sideline - whether you need one or not.

6. Play a soft zone - conserve as much energy as is possible while on defense - pack the defense in as much as possible - shorten the slides.

7. Stall on offense - why wait to use your stall offense - use it often to work the clock down, then run your offense.

8. Watch for warning signs of fatigue - use your time outs to recover - not to establish or keep possession or to strategize.

9. Take the full time out - never send your players on the field early. Walk that fine fine between resting and a technical foul. Ask the referees what their time out mechanics are - some wait until the full T0 is over to whistle the team on the field; others will whistle in with 10 seconds left.


1. Shorten the pre-game warm up. There's no sense in getting tired and the game hasn't started.

2. Be judicious with the time warm-up. A short dynamic stretch will be effective.

NEXT MONTH: Detailing the 2-1-3 offense (like the good LI boy that I am, I count from behind the cage)

John Kenney has coached at top high schools in New York and Michigan and publishes the LACROSSE COACH Newsletter. Now in it's third year of publication, Lacrosse Coach provides valuable information to coaches in every phase of lacrosse coaching and is the best source of regular information for the lacrosse coaching professional. Each issue features many articles on varioua aspects of coaching the game.




Lacrosse Coach is highly recommended by E-Lacrosse for any lacrosse coach. Just imagine a whole newsletter as valuable as the advice you've just read, published quarterly, covering all aspects of the game. And it's only $18.95 a year. You can just read Coach Kenney's monthly column here on E-Lacrosse for free and have a distinct advantage over those who haven't. But, what if the coach of the team you face next week is reading all of Coach Kenney's articles in the newsletter. In our opinion, one can spend 30 years accumulating coaching experience or spend the 20 bucks and trust John Kenney.

January 2, 2007


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