New York Lizards Blog

A New Coach’s Guide to Formations in a Lacrosse Playbook

Posted by Tom Hallissey on Jun 29, 2018 10:00:00 AM

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If you are new to coaching the game, you probably have more than a few questions about how to set up an effective lacrosse offense. Like basketball, there are several recommended formations that are used in different game situations. From the 1-4-1 to the 3-3, these are five common offensive sets your lacrosse playbook must have.

A Lacrosse Playbook Template for a Youth Offense

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The 1-4-1 is a good formation to use against a zone defense. By spreading out the defense, it creates dodging opportunities for the players on the outsides. The overload in the crease can also open up space on the perimeter, because defenders are forced to sluff in to protect the goal. On the inside of the formation, attackmen can set picks to get open and score quick goals from short range.

One major disadvantage of the 1-4-1 is that it can make the offense susceptible to fast breaks in the other direction.

  • 1 midfielder up top
  • 4 players across the middle
  • 1 attackman behind the goal


The 2-2-2 is a common formation in a youth lacrosse playbook. It is a great way to allow your middies room to sweep towards the goal from up top. With four players on the outside and two in the crease, it can open up passing lanes that lead to more shots on goal.

A downside of this formation is that it increases the length of perimeter passes, which can be a problem for those new to the game.

  • 2 players across the top
  • 2 players across the middle
  • 2 players behind the goal

This offensive set works better against a man-to-man defense.

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The 2-3-1 formation spreads out the offense, allowing a team room to run motion plays. With more open space available, middies and attackmen have more opportunities to wheel and deal. The 2-3-1 set, which features an attackman in the crease and one behind the cage, puts teams in position to rebound, screen and back-up shots.

  • 2 players up top
  • 3 players across the middle
  • 1 player behind the goal

This offensive set typically works better against man-to-man defenses, but still can be effective against a zone.


The 1-3-2 set is good for teams who have strong attackmen. The two players behind the goal can work together to create scoring opportunities from the X. In addition, it puts three offensive players in good scoring positions above goal line extended.

The 1-3-2 is also useful in the last two minutes of the game when a team is required to keep the ball in the box.

  • 1 player up top
  • 3 players across the middle
  • 2 players behind the goal

This offensive set is a highly recommended way to counter a man-to-man defense.


The 3-3 is a common formation for man-up, because it puts every offensive player in the position to score a goal. This balanced set is a way to spread the field, but it leaves the area behind the net unmanned. As a result, it can be harder to back-up a missed shot.

  • 3 players across the top
  • 3 players across the middle
  • No attackmen behind the goal

Although these formations are the most common, many lacrosse playbooks include other offensive sets. Feel free to experiment as you go along!

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Topics: Coaching