Coaching Lacrosse With 20 Players Or Less, Part 2

20 Players or Less

Editor’s note: What follows is Part 2 of Connor Wilson’s series on coaching lacrosse teams with twenty players or less. Click here to read Part 1.

20 Players or Less

The Advantages of a Smaller Team

Most people would instantly jump up and say that a team with a smaller roster is always going to be at a disadvantage, but I’m not so sure that is true.  The smaller team has two major advantages, and if you are coaching a team like this, they are well worth considering, and I hope you take advantage of them.

1) By having less players on your team, you can get to know all of your players better.

Not only is it easier to remember all your players’ names, but coaches can actually get to KNOW the kids very quickly. There is nowhere for a player to hide on a small team, and even small team or personality issues can jump out at you as a coach.

A smaller team is more manageable by a smaller staff, and this can definitely be an advantage. One coach with 40 kids is a tough situation. One coach with 15 kids is definitely doable.

The smaller setting also means that each player can get more individual attention from the coach(es), and it can be easy to put 10 kids on a passing drill while you work with 5-7 others on one-on-one defense. With 40 kids, this type of thing is much more difficult to accomplish.

2) Players on small teams must be versatile.

We have a first year player on our team who played midfield and defense in his first game. He used a short stick and a long stick, and he was equally comfortable with both. We need him to be versatile in practice, and he is therefore versatile in games. He even scored his first ever goal in a lacrosse game off a feed, almost adding another goal only minutes later.

A lot is required of this player in practice as we demand that his skill set be diverse. But when he got into the game, and was in possession of the ball being covered by an “O-mid” from the other team, it showed. He was comfortable out there, and able to do it all. Not bad for a kid who picked a stick up only 2-3 months ago.

A smaller team can result in more versatile players, and it can help foster a tighter team chemistry as well. Maybe it’s not all bad after all!

Does your team have a small roster? Are there any other advantages you’ve experienced? Share your knowledge in the comments section below!

Look for Part 3 of this series on Monday, and if you haven’t already, check out Part 1 here.


  1. I coach U13 in a league league that has gone from a total of 58 kids in 2010 to 160 kids this year. I feel very ‘full’ with 24 on my team this year I suppose just because I am used to coaching 15-18. Your #1 point above is what I worry about the most, and hopefully next year we will grow enough to split off a third team at this level because your second point I feel is invaluable at this age, and something I preach hard. I feel my job is to help most players get to the point that when they are a freshman in HS they show up with the ability to fill about any position the coach needs. Then they can look to specialize. Of course there are exceptions, but at the level I coach I adhere to this as much as possible.

  2. So you find yourself teaching stick skills to first-year players on a varsity high-school team. Folks, this happens in the non-hotbeds like here in Alabama (or in Northern Virginia twenty years ago when I was in HS). I remembered this article mentioning former MLL/NLL player Josh Sims learning to catch with a shovel ( ), so now I take a women’s stick to practice. We’ve instituted a new rule in practice where two catches that snap at the ball get your stick replaced with my fiancée’s crosse. There’s no snapping at the ball when you have zero pocket, right? Soft hands for the win.

  3. This might be a little off, but I am a part of a very small college team that recently went from MCLA DII to Independent. The main reason we had to go independent was the size of our team. Our team consists of about 13 people, and that is if everyone shows up. We currently have no real goalie, and most of our guys, like myself, have never touched a lacrosse stick before attending college. On top of all this, and I know you are thinking “how can this get any worse?”, we only get at most 7 people at a practice. Do you have any recommendations for a team this small?