loose ball messy scrum

2-on-1 Man/Ball Drill: The Basics

The 2-on-1 Man/Ball Drill is a classic ground ball lax drill. Youth, high school, and college coaches alike will find this drill a crucial part of their practice arsenal. It's great for conditioning and toughness, and it imitates game situations. Plus it's probably the most basic way to teach your players to understand the 2-on-1, even if their stick skills aren't very good yet, since the ball starts on the ground.

Man/Ball is a classic for a reason- ground balls win games. Picking up loose balls results in extra possessions and extra chances to score. You can't expect to win if you can't pick up the ball.

The best thing about the 2-on-1 Man/Ball drill is how flexible it is. You can run this drill just about any day at practice, and you only need a small section of the field to run the drill. We've seen plenty of teams using it in their pregame warm-ups.

Make sure you give all your players a chance to play both sides of the ball- offense and defense. Especially at the youth level and even in high school, developing well-rounded athletes is one of the most important things you do as a coach.

Mix your long poles in like everyone else. Defenders need to know how to pick up the ball and go to the goal. More and more coaches want their Defenders and Long-Stick-Midfielders (LSM) to know what to do any time they get the ball.

Start your players anywhere on the field--mid line, end line or sideline--and facing any direction. To keep it simple, play this drill just to get the ball back to coach. There are so many variations and options you can throw in once your player get good at the basics.


2 on 1 man ball basic setup 3 lines

Figure 1.) Separate your players into 3 lines, depending on how many players you have at practice.

The two lines on each end will be offense (Blue) and the line in the middle will be defense (Red).

You can also mix it up each time to keep your players on their toes. Choose one of the three players at the front of the line to be the single defender each rep.

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  • When one of your players gets possession, he should call "Release!" to tell his teammates to stop blocking. If they don't stop blocking other players, that will be an Illegal Screen violation, similar to a Moving Pick in basketball. All that hard work for nothing.
  • No matter how you run the drill, keep it moving and get the quickest repetitions possible for each player! Anything that keeps the drill and your players moving!
  • Remember you can time your drills for your players' age and attention span to get the most out of your practice time.
  • If you need to add some intensity to practice, check out our tips for keeping score in your drills. You could give one point to the offense every time they get the ball. Give two points to the defense, since they have one less player. Teach your players to compete every day in practice!
  • Although "Man/Ball" has been a part of lacrosse for forever, more and more coaches now are teaching their players to play "Ball/Man", where your team knows you all go for the ball, instead of going to block or hit the man. We think "Ball/Man" will become the new standard.


  • "Fireball!"-throw in a new loose ball if there's a bad pass or shot out of bounds to keep the drill going with the same players.
  • On your backs- start your players on their backs in sit-up position, on their stomachs or in push-up position. This can add an extra element of conditioning to your drill.
  • Chaser-After the ground ball is picked up, send in a second defender (Red) to keep the pressure on. In a game, these 2-on-1 situations only last for a few seconds.
  • 2-on-1 Man/Ball to the Goal- play out this same situation to a goal-scoring opportunity.
  • Close Quarters- play this same situation with the added pressure of keeping the ball in bounds. Sidelines are just like extra defenders.

Tons of options and tons of fun with this drill. Try it out and tell us how it goes! Ground Balls Win Games!