Denver University Outlaws lacrosse

5-on-4 “Spider” Defense Drill

This simple but highly effective practice drill will teach offensive players to move the ball and keep their eyes up for open teammates in front of the goal, while Defenders will learn to recover to the "Hole" and help protect the middle of the field when they are not responsible for guarding the ball.

The 5-on-4 "Spider" Drill is based on a new term we hear coaches using a lot these days- "Spider in on Defense." We've even heard some top college coaches like John Danowski (Duke) and Dom Starsia (Virginia) using this term with their teams.

This drill could also be a 5-on-4 Man-Up play if you coach Box or Indoor Lacrosse.

"Spider In!" and "Spider Out!": Using this drill at practice is a great way to teach everyone on your team defensive communication and footwork. Each Defender will act as a "leg" of the spider, moving out to challenge the ball carrier, then back in to the "Hole" to help cover open Attackers in front of the goal as the ball moves to the opposite side of the field.

This is also a great way to teach your Defenders to understand when they would be the "Second Slide" in a game.

Offense: Work the "Soft Spot" of the Defense. This drill keeps your offensive players moving the ball to work on stick skills in a game situation, and teaches them to look for open teammates in the middle. As one Defender spiders out to cover the ball, another Defender has to spider in from the back side to cover the man in the middle, leaving the Attacker open for a few seconds as they pass him off. Find the guy in the "Soft Spot" of the Defense in front of the goal to get some nice lay-ups.


Put a goal and a goalie at one end of the field. Start with 5 Attackers (Blue) and 4 Defenders (Red).

5 on 4 spider drill basic setup

Figure 1. Set up your Offense in a box in front of the goal. The 5th Attacker (Blue 5) should stay inside on the Crease to play the "Soft Spot" of the Defense and get open in front of the goal. The Defense will also form a box in front of the goal.

Start the ball at one corner of the box. You can put cones out to keep your players spaced out evenly, or let them work the formation and spacing on their own.

The Offense (Blue) will work the ball around this outside box, while the Defense works on moving out to cover the ball, and back in to help cover the middle.

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  • Be loud! Attackers should call for the ball when they are open, and Defenders must communicate who is guarding the Crease.
  • Rotate your players through all positions- Have your whole team try out every position on Attack and Defense. Teach your players to be a threat anywhere on the field. Maybe you will find some really good Defenders or ball handlers that you didn't know about!
  • Send in a "Chaser" on Defense: If Blue can't move the ball to the open man quickly enough to take advantage of the 5-on-4, play out this 5-on-5 situation to a goal or a turnover.


  • The 6-on-5 "Spider" Drill: Add in one more player to each team to practice your Man-Up or Extra Man Offense (EMO) like in full outdoor games.
  • 3-on-2 West Genesee Drill: Players will get plenty of work on conditioning and communication with this classic, high-speed drill.
  • 4-on-3 Box Passing Drill: Teach players to make smart, accurate passes with this game situation passing drill.
  • 4-By Full-Field 4-on-3: This is a fun, competitive way to turn your "drill" into a "game" at your next practice.