Situational Coaching - The overall key to excellent lacrosse teams is that they perform in all situations with all the key players contributing (10 in the case of a ride or clear, 6 in settled offense, 7 in settled defense, etc.)  If one of the defenders is slacking or on a different page, the offense will probably find him for a score.  This is easy to say but hard to execute unless coaches provide the players a structure for all of the situations.  For goalies on the D end, they are expected to guide the team on the field and so not only do they need to know their position but all the situation setups that should happen on that end of the field. 

For our teams, we have a strong commitment to putting our players in a position to succeed at defense, riding, clearing, etc.  The table below gives you some idea about situations and what to do.  Once you are comfortable with these, insert them into full field practices along with teaching your 6-6 options, man-up O options and man-down options.  Your choices might be different but, make sure the whole team knows what you want on every situation and you'll get a couple of goals a game (denied or obtained) from their consistency and teamwork.

This table is our Defensive situations - we work on a couple of these each practice.  These are predicated on a few rules;

  • When the ball is up top we dictate where the ball carrier goes, almost always down the side (lowering the shot angle on the goalie.

  • When the ball is at goal line or below then take away the drive to the top side by taking away the outside drive - dictate where the ball carrier goes, either back through X or between you and the crease (then push 'em in)

  • Goalie protects the pipe and is responsible to save the low angle shot consistently

  • Use slides reluctantly, but when sliding dictate where the ball carrier can go - beaten defender stays on his back for the double

  • Pressure produces turnovers much more than checks so the defender dictates direction with his body position and pressures the ball carrier's bottom hand with his stick (lift, C check or poke & lift)

Thus, defenders are never alone, they have the keeper, the crease and their on-ball situation (above) as the foundation for all of your team situation defenses.  Teach these concepts to the keeper and he/she will guide the defense better also.

D Situation

Basic Approach

Option /Comment

Break 1 (1 man back)

Down the Side – Breakdown, take away side/bottom hand

Under - push in crease

Break 2 (2 men back)

Stack – top take ball down the side Bottom take 1st pass and down the side

Don’t play anyone behind

Break 3 (3 men back)

Triangle Rotate, sticks inside

Triangle Hold

Break 4 (4 men back)

Box – Weak side low covers crease

Triangle and One

Break 5 (5 back)

Five on a Dice D, flex to ball, sticks up

Lock off crease

Even D against 1-3-2 O

Man-To-Man (M-T-M) Princeton Tiger (slide from crease)  – Shut off adjacents/slide reluctantly

Don’t slide or Shut & Break 5

Even D against 1-4-1 O

M-T-M Tiger when ball behind and initially up top, pinch to crease from the wings

2-4 zone, slide cross crease - COMA

Even D 1-3-2, 2-2-2 O

Soft – Tight M-T-M hard on ball - adjacents close to crease, slide reluctantly

Shutoff best dodger/finisher

Even D 2-1-3, 2-2-2 O

Shutoff 2 behind, box out front

Even D Invert O

4-2 Box Zone up top COMA slide

Shutoff 2 behind

Even D Circle O

Slide Adjacent and bump

Slide furthest man from the ball - COMA (COMA means Come Across

Man Down D 3-3 O

4 man Box zone w/ 5th man in the middle on a string


Man Down D 1-3-2 O

4 man Box zone with 5th man  nearly shutting off crease attackman – COMA slide - no crease slide

Box and 1 shutoff

Man Down D 2-2-2 O

Box zone with wings on string behind


Man Down D 1-4-1 O

1-3-1 Bump and Sag

1-4 and don’t cover behind

Man Down D Circle O

Five on Dice, center takes 1st cutter


2 Men Down D any set

Box – Weak side low covers crease

Triangle and One (shut)

2 Man Down Clear

Middie down


Extra Man Defense

Tiger with dbl slide on every pass

Break 5 and chase with 1

Man Down (MD) Ride

A, LSM, D mid at midline, Stack 2 A - force long pass

Drop LSM Dmid to D side

EMO Ride

On-ride tight use sidelines

Dbl ball, leave long low open

Even Face-Off

LSM on Wing, D mid on Wing, FO mid

FO mid,

Man Down Face-Off

Attack on wing, LSM on wing

D Middie in for Attack, FO off

EMO Faceoff

FO mid, EMO mid, EMO mid

FO mid, LSM, FO mid

Even Clear–Stack ride

3 across, Two mids at restraining (3-2-2) , swing and run w/D


Even Clear–On ride

Drive Box middie to the ball


Even Clear–Zone ride

Over the top breakout at midline


Even Clear–10M ride

Spread our A, use crease to break up pressure


Man Down Clear – Any Set

Middie for Goalie, G to corner, D up and over for breaking A

Middie Down either starting w/ball or breaks to get ball

2 Men Down Clear

Middie for Goalie, Ball to Middie in Goal w/breakout rules

Long ball to distant corner A

EMO Clear

Draw and dump fast (consider 3-1-3 set)

Middie down and run it out

Even D Need Ball

Drive to behind, dbl behind, G takes crease (shutoff)

G dbls behind

Even D Up 1, little time

Soft with best player shutoff, COMA slide


MD D Up 1, little time

Break 4 zone with their best player shutoff


2MD D Up 1, little time

Break 4 zone (box)


EMO D Up 1, little time

Break 5 w/backer slide


Flag Down D – Even

Play with who you have – emphasize cutter cover


Flag Down D - MD

Play with who you have – Break 5 – don’t play behind


Sideline Inbnds–D end

Drop in play ball at box line


Their Inbounds–D end - Need ball

Double ball into sideline Break 4 box inside


Sideline inbnds–O end

Dbl ball into sideline – leave far side low&hi alone


Sideline inbnds–O end Need Ball

Double ball into sideline – shut off swing man and hi man


Copyright Weston Lacrosse 12--08