The Stories That Matter Most To The Utah Lacrosse Community

Opinion: The West and Wrong Formation Counting

Formation GraphicI have always lived and played in the Western U.S., however I have studied lacrosse from the best teams and players, which are all in the Eastern U.S., with the exception being Denver.
From studying from the teams and players that are East of the Mississippi, I have always counted formations from X up. For example, the picture to the right would be a 1-3-2. I had always heard of people in the West counting backwards, 2-3-1, but as I have started coaching locally (Go Lehi), I have seen just how ramped this problem is.
Some might say this is simply semantics, but I disagree. I see this as a problem, and a problem that needs correcting.
As lacrosse is growing in the West we are getting better players, and they are starting to have the opportunity to play with NCAA lacrosse colleges, where they all count from X.
If the West keeps counting in the opposite direction as the rest of the country, when our kids get to the higher levels of play they will be caught off guard. They will have to relearn the counting system, and this will hurt them.
As I have been coaching I have been trying to fix this with our team, and it has been difficult. I am trying to reteach the kids something they have been taught over years of playing. For some, it’s a problem of thinking that counting from X is “wrong”, for others it’s just trying to alter their frame of mind.
I challenge all Western coaches and players to start teaching and using formation counting the way it should be done; counting from X.
This will be one step closer to legitimize lacrosse in the West and it will prepare our players for playing in the big leagues!
-Dallas Brown
Lehi Assistant Coach
If you have an opinion about something lacrosse related, we’d love to hear it! Email to submit your article.

  1. It’s actually a North vs. South (Long Island vs. Baltimore) thing. Ask Mason Goodhand (Westminster Head Coach) from B-more, Maryland he will tell you 2-3-1. Craig Morris (Utah Head Coach) from Yorktown New York will tell you 1-3-2 so it’s kind of a heritage thing. Personally I like the fact you can trace a coaches heritage from his lingo.

    1. that would make sense DBlax22, my high school coach back  in the day is from Baltimore and would always say a 2-3-1. My current assistant is from upstate new york and calls it a 1-3-2.

  2. So I checked my LAX Bible, Lacrosse Technique and Tradition, to see what coach Pietramala had to say about this.  He uses 2-3-1.  I’ll stick with Coach Pietramala thank you. Definately NOT a Western thing.  (I run a 2-2-2.  Avoids all the confusion.)

  3. @01fc857c867a5d302b79c80a99caedfc:disqus Interesting insights. I have always been a Cuse man myself which could explain some of it. I talked to some past Syracuse stars and they said that they always count from X. I am pretty sure Duke , Notre Dame, and Denver also count from X, which aren’t really North or East… (I have reached out to several past and present players to double check that I have heard right). I am a big believer that someone with a high Lacrosse IQ can hear one way and just know what it means

  4. Either way it is an issue I feel the entire lacrosse community needs to come together on and settle it (one way or the other). @cbdc36271a16f1a91159d1ceb331c950:disqus curious, have you ever had problems arise from you counting one way and your assistant counting the other (in any way, such as saying it different ways and the kids getting confused)

  5. Dallas while I understand your thought process and I have been taught both ways the others are accurate in its a New York area vs Baltimore are analogy. Yes I agree we should make it one or the other but I don’t know if it would ever happen as those two hot beds don’t want to say they were wrong.  As Lacrosse grows we need to be constant as are all the other main sports in American culture. 

  6. @facebook-752885074:disqus Yea I agree it won’t be easy… Only way I see anything happening is is US Lacrosse was to say “this is the correct way.” There would still be people who wouldn’t go with it, but it would be a start. I just heard back from Tommy Kehoe who said in Gettysburg, PA (NCAA) that they count 1-3-2 (just an FYI). So while it might have started as a NY vs Baltimore thing, it has obviously gone way past this…

  7. 1-3-2, 2-3-1, triangle offense, motion offense… it all means the same thing regardless of race creed or nationality.  The bottom line is that coaches need to communicate effectively with their players what they are calling what.  We try to hide what we are doing by calling it something slightly different than the next but in reality the concepts are the same. 
    As far as standardization of terminology being the route to making lacrosse players better in Utah…. I would focus on building stronger stick skills, shallower pockets with less whip, and most importantly getting rid of the “Bro” culture.  Maybe then we will have more kids making the “big leagues.”

Related Posts