Defense: Defending the 4-on-3 Fast Break

Fast Breaks happen multiple times every lacrosse game. By understanding this common game situation, your Defense can stop these goals from changing the momentum of almost any game!

Fast Breaks are the reason we call lacrosse "the fastest game on two feet." They come out of nowhere. They're quick. They're exciting. They bring fans to their feet. Offensive players love the extra scoring chances, while there's nothing better for a Goalie than making a huge save on a shot from 5 feet away during a game.

Time Favors the Defense! You don't have to take the ball away every time. If your Defenders can slow down the Fast Break, there's a good chance the other team will throw the ball away with a bad pass or shot. Or your Midfielders will get back to help equalize the numbers-advantage situation.

Practice this common game situation often! Many high school and college teams run 4-on-3 Fast Break Drills at least once per week. 4-on-3 situations are easier for most beginning players to understand than 5-on-4 Slow Breaks and 6-on-5 Man-Up/Man-Down. Youth teams will find themselves in this situation in every game, on both Offense and Defense. Spend extra time making sure your players have this down cold!

Middies- Hustle back on Defense! The best way to Defend the Fast Break is for your Midfielders to sprint back to the "Hole", and play Defense "from Inside-Out". Don't leave your Defense in a Man-Down situation. Or better yet, keep possession of the ball at the other end of the field. Half of the goals your team gives up are probably the result of Offensive Turnovers!


The 4-on-3 is unique to men's and boys' lacrosse because of the set up of the game and the field. There are always three (3) Attack and and three (3) Defenders at each end. Any time one player comes down the field with the ball in front of everyone else, the 4-on-3 is what you get.

defense defending 4 on 3 fast break drill play

Figure 1.) We know lots of top coaches that teach their Defense to set up in a Triangle. This gives your "Point Defender" (Red 1 here) a head start at stopping the ball when they see the Fast Break coming.

Most attacking teams will set up in an "L"-Shape,or three sides of a Box. Most often they try to bring the ball down the left side of the field (when looking out from the Goal or Goalie) so that most of the pass and shot opportunities are right-handed as the ball moves, since most players are right handed.

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