Right-handed players should position themselves on the left side of the floor wherever possible, and vice versa for left-handed players (aka proper floor sides).
“Same-handed” players are two or more teammates playing together on the same-side of the floor, and “opposite-handed” players are those who are on the floor together but hold their stick on different sides of their body (usually on different sides of the floor).
"Switching hands" is done all in one motion by dropping one’s top-hand down the stick, bringing the stick across the front of the body (stick head facing the player), and moving the opposite hand (bottom-hand) up to where top-hand was (with the original top-hand becoming the new bottom-hand).
A “switch shooter” is a player that can shoot, pass and catch with equal effectiveness, both "left & right." Historically, the majority of American players are able to play well with both hands, but more and more Canadians are equally capable with their “off-hand,” depending on the situation.This biggest difference is Canadian coaches preach to master one “hand” before learning to play with the other;whereas most American coaches emphasize playing with both hands from a much younger age.
Proper Floor Side/“Eyes Of The Stick”/Imaginary Floor Division (See Legend):A lengthwise “imaginary division” of the floor, stretching from the middle of one net to the other; players’ sticks should be facing this imaginary mid-line for the large majority of the time while on the floor.Likewise, players’ bodies should rarely, if ever, cross this imaginary mid-line while shooting.Same-handed players should play on their “proper floor side” as much as possible.Any shot on the “wrong side” of this imaginary line is considered a bad shot that the goalie should manage to save.
A good example of the effect proper floor side can have, is to do the “eyes of the stick” demonstration: with a goalie in the ready position (without moving), sit players in a line near the crease position on the "door-step," behind an assistant coaches body (so they can still see), as the coach takes shots (mixing up release points) toward the far-side of the net.After each player has watched from up close behind the coach, move the line to behind the coach’s stick and repeat (show demo with the goalie out “challenging” as well). Lastly, bring the line over to the coach’s wrong-side of the floor and repeat (briefly); perhaps add a player to screen (see screen shot). Continue with a conversation about a good angle versus a bad angle, as players get the chance to see shooting (and shooting lanes) in lacrosse from a different perspective. It becomes evident with this demonstration how the stick ultimately becomes an extension of a lacrosse player’s body; also how much more net the stick can see versus the player.
Wrong Floor Side/Improper Floor Side:When a player’s stick is facingclosest to the boards, relative to an imaginary floor division stretching from the middle of one net to the other (opposite of "proper floor side").
Good offensive players usually possess at least status quo when it comes to all of the different attributes listed above, along with some of the best stick skills (precision & "accuracy") on the team. No two individuals’ strengths, weaknesses or “skill-sets” will ever be the exact same; they can be similar, but never the same (different execution/style). Some of the most non-athletic looking players can be very effective on offense if they find a “role” and/or know how to use their strengths effectively.
Intelligence is essentially the biggest difference maker, in the sense of knowing what to do and when to do it, as well as being agile, clever and manoeuvrable (able to shoot from different release points). Knowing what the defense wants to do, where the “soft spots” are, how to create "time & space," and being unpredictable despite what the “scouting report” may say, are all key.
While the pressure is on, offenders need to be able to score early and often for their team. “Timing” of goals can drastically change the dynamic of the game, as some offenses don’t tend to play as well when trailing on the scoreboard. As a team, offensive players need to be able to answer with goals that stop themomentum of the opposing team and they need to be able score goals in the clutch; late in the game when the score is close.
Offensive players must be willing to do whatever it takes to “be a threat” and get quality shots in the prime scoring area, which means being physically tough and willing to “pay the price,” as they say. They also need to be mentally tough and able to pull it together when things don’t seem to be going right. An offender without any bruises at the end of a game is generally a good indicator that they did not have a good game.
“Coaches/managers” need to be able to bring the right mix ("chemistry") of offensive players together, players with complimentary styles, helping create a balanced roster on the floor. A team off all “finishers” needs someone to "feed" the ball and set picks; there is also only one ball that can be shot each possession, so players also need to be able to play off-ball as well.
Offensive players are notorious for having egos because of all the attention they receive and the pressure that they are faced with. A good coach knows how to manage a player’s personality as much, or sometimes more than their skill-set.
Good “Hands”/Scoring “Touch”/“Finisher”/Goal Scorer/Accuracy/Aiming/Patience:"Scoring touch” is the uncanny ability to score goals (the opposite of being a “finisher” is referred to as being an “egg & spooner”). Good “hands” essentially means the same, but could also refer to the ability to catch passes in tight spaces, up off of the ground (loose balls), or otherwise just safely handling the ball.
Ultimately, "accuracy," also known as picking a spot and delivering the ball there on cue, is usually the most distinguishing factor in having “good hands” or not. Another attribute that all pure goal scorers possess is patience.A brief attempt to summarize what patience is would be:not necessarily shooting or passing the ball to the first option, instead using as much time as possible, utilizing disguise and misdirection to mask one’s true intentions; getting the best shot possible.
Crease Specialist/Crease Position/"The Island"/Playing The "L" (See Legend): The crease position on the floor is an imaginary area about 5 metres from where goal-line-extended meets the crease, and 5 metres up from the net, known in field lacrosse as “the island.”
Crease players should have a good “touch”in tight and are usually of a larger build, with a longer reach around the net. They should also be willing to get to the middle of the floor to set good picks for the shooters.Crease players do not necessarily have to be big, but what they lack in size should be made up for with stick skills and hard work (on loose balls).
A good “quick stick” is also an extremely valuable asset from this position. It is especially helpful on the power play when crease players can find an open passing lane while playing the "L" on the back-side crease.
Shooter Specialist/Shooter (“Corner”) Position (See Legend):The “shooter position,” historically known as the “corner position” on the floor, is an imaginary area about 10 metres down from the rag-line in the offensive zone, and 10 metres away from the boards.
Good "shooters" are most often players with great passing and shooting abilities (hands); some of the most skilled offensive players overall.Shooters need to have quick feet; be able to beat defenders “one-on-one,” and get open for quick "catch and shoot" situations; while also having a good sense for “shot selection.”
In the event of a shot from the opposite side shooter while on offense, the shooter from the opposite-side of the floor should be the first player “reacting back” to play defense, or to quickly substitute with a defender on the bench.
Usually a team’s “starting” shooters on the power-play are two of their top three offensively skilled players; sometimes a team’s best play maker starts as a shooter in order to attract a “split box,” leaving teammates with more "time & space."
Point (Top) Specialist/Point Position (See Legend):The point position on the floor is an imaginary area about 12 metres back from the top of the crease, directly in line with the centre of the net.
Point players are usually players with the highest lacrosse IQ, so to speak.These players must make smart decisions with the ball when passing and shooting, while also acting as a quarterback or point guard when executingset-plays on offense.
It is important to have a player at the point position when swinging the ball from one side to the other on offense, either as a passer or receiver of the ball.Passing the ball through the “point position” ultimately "shortens up" a swing pass which is otherwise easily the most picked-off pass in lacrosse, from shooter-to-shooter.
During even strength play, no players should ever be standing still at the “point,” “shooter” or “crease” positions for more than two or three seconds. Players should be cycling through these positions and shooting the ball when they find themselves open.
Individual players rarely have the exact same “skill-sets,” but great teams/players are always a healthy balance of all of these different attributes (coaches need balance as well); with players sometimes expected to fulfill multiple different roles (“styles”) throughout the course of the season.
Coaches need to communicate with players before, during and after the season in terms of their expectation of player roles on/off the floor; aiding further in establishing accountabilityamongst the players when tough “personnel” decisions and winning are at stake.
Players should play/train within their role, but also have leeway in order not to stifle their creativity.
If there is a scrum, a “trap and scoop” is often the best technique to employ; by means of putting the back of the stick “head” on the ball and pulling it towards oneself (or batting/kicking it to open space).
When picking up the ball while running, less of a scooping action is required, and it becomes more important to run “through” the ball. Players should never wait for a bouncing ball to arrive, but rather, should actively pursue the ball until it is in their stick. The next progressive step after scooping up the ball, would be to cradle it into to open space (scoop, tuck, turn) and/or bring the ball up into the “triple threat position,” ready to pass or shoot the ball.
“First Nation Pick-Up”: The “First Nation” pick up is the act of picking up the ball by rolling the head of the stick over the ball, all in one motion corralling the ball.
This manoeuvre requires a player to hit the ball on the corner of the closed face of the stick, and in one stream-line motion turning the stick head over and corralling the ball via the other corner of the stick.
Cradling/Stick Handling/“Power Cradling”/One-Handed Cradling/Ball Carrier (See Cradling Skills Analysis): Running with the ball from one spot on the floor to another while maintaining control of the ball is accomplished by "cradling" (a player “carrying” the ball is also known as the “ball-carrier”).The cradling action itself is done with the wrists/hands/fingers of the top-hand of a player (see holding the stick), usually with two-hands on the stick but sometimes “one-handed,” and generally interspersed with various other stick/body movements.
Power cradling is when a player utilizes a mismatch in size by lowering their shoulder (bull rushing), keeping the stick tight to their body and cradling their way to the net; leaning into and pushing the defender backwards.
“Hiding” the ball is a good cue for beginners, as an analogy that re-enforces this skill, which is also known as keeping the ball “tucked in.”
Hiding the ball could also refer to keeping the ball hidden behind one’s body before releasing the ball on a shot, which is a more advanced skill.
“Twirling” The Stick:Over time, some players will develop the bad habit of unnecessarily “twirling” their stick 360° while cradling or after catching the ball.Even Senior players will sometimes still do it (consciously or unconsciously), in spite of knowing it is bad technique; which appears to have something to do with them being in their "zone."
No coach should allow young players to needlessly twirl their stick, and should actively correct the problem as much as possible.At the end of the day, twirling the stick is a waste of energy (time) that could prove costly in a game where split-second reactions can be the difference between goals for and against (winning and losing).
Bottom Hand Cradling/Bottom Hand Faking:The most delicate, intricate, and precise movements made with a lacrosse stick are generally performed with the top-hand (see holding the stick); notably cradling, passing, shooting & faking.The bottom hand is, for the most part, just a fixed guide on the stick used to generate or reduce force imparted through the stick; or guide the direction that the stick is traveling.
Being A Threat (See Stickwork Drill #9C):Offensive players should make every effort to “be a threat” wherever possible while on the floor; both on-ball and off-ball.Essentially, this means keeping their stick up, in “the box” as much as possible.On-ball players in particular, should try to be a threat to shoot at all times, which aids in setting-up other moves while enticing defenders to “over-commit.”
Overhand/“Over The Shoulder”:Using a clock analogy, this would be a 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock (north-south)stick action; with approximately a 180° rotation of the stick done entirely above the shoulders.Players should always be taught to use this passing and shooting technique, as it is the most accurate and most difficult for the goalie to anticipate and stop.
A “3/4” shot is a follow through halfway between true overhand and true “side-arm” (i.e. approximately 45° relative to the body).
Offensive players need to learn to "pull" a side-arm shot back to the short-side, otherwise it can be a relatively easy save for the goalie, with most side-arm shots usually going to the far-side, especially when shooting around screens.
Underhand/“Sub-Shot”:Using a clock analogy, this would be a 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock stick action, but instead of taking place above the shoulders like an “overhand” shot, it is a 180° stick rotation below the waist. The players' sticks should reach behind their body, generally up to waist height, while standing perpendicular to the target. Using a strong follow through (pull) from the bottom hand and a 180 degree clockwise rotation of the top hand, the stick is propelled out front of the players body for an approximate 180° stick rotation (similar to a golf swing).
Players will often caulk their stick once or twice before firing a shot, rock it from side-to-side using their bottom hand, which helps them get a good feel for where the ball is sitting in their pocket versus the angle ("release point") they intend to throw the shot at.
This shot is effective because goalies tend to drop on this shot, whereas it can also be thrown high to the top corners. Furthermore, this shot can be thrown as a "worm-burner" along the ground, which can sometimes get underneath the goalie's stick if it is not flush to the ground, especially if moving laterally.
Crippler/Twister/Corkscrew/J-Shot:Starting from primarily an overhandstick position, but sometimes from a “side-arm” position, the player aims either short-side or far-side with the stick and then “twists” their hands back to the opposite side of the net at the last second.In other words, the player looks to the right side of the net, then twists their hands back to the left side at the last second, with a 180° stick rotation (if right-handed).
Behind The Back/Bobby Backhand/“BTB”:Going "behind the back" is an advanced passing and shooting technique that is sometimes useful when players are on their wrong side, have a bad angle relevant to their target, or otherwise simply to be deceptive.With the stick position starting behind a player’s body, the movement is a slight lean forward of the lead shoulder and then a rotation of the hips and torso, bringing the stick from 3 o’clock to 12 o’clock; usually starting at hip level and finishing at the back shoulder when passing or vice-versa when shooting (45°).
The opposite direction of what would normally be a side-arm stick action. Instead of the top hand pushing and the bottom hand pulling like a standard “overhand” pass, the top hand pulls in toward the body and the bottom hand pushes away from it (while also rotating the torso).
Reverse-Backhand/Turbo/Tommy Twister/"Around The World": A "reverse backhand" is a rarely used, advanced shooting and passing technique.Moving the opposite direction of a “behind the back,” the stick moves across the front of the body (similar to side-arm), with the player eventually releasing the ball after a 360° stick rotation behind, to in front of their body ("around the world").
A reverse-backhand is usually only taken as a desperation shot if there is no angle, with very little time left on the shot clock or otherwise to deceive the goalie.Advanced point players will also sometimes use this as a deceptive passing technique from the top position on a power-play, but only if they have exceptional stick skills.
Often beginning lacrosse players will stop short, instead of following through completely and pointing toward the target with their stick.The point where the ball comes out of the stick is otherwise known as the “release point,” which could be at different angles (overhand,side-arm,underhand, etc.) and at different speeds depending on the depth and hook of the stick pocket (shallow pockets come out quicker).
Change Up/Floater/Off-Speed: The most skilled offensive players are able to take speed off of their shots and passes in order to fool (deceive) their opponent (namely the goalie).
Prime Scoring Area/“The Middle”/“High Percentage”/Quality Shot/“In Tight”/“In Close”/“The Door-Step” (See Legend):Two imaginary diagonal lines going from the point where the Goal-Line-Extended (GLE) intersects the crease on a 45° angle outwards towards the side-boards.Just outside of the shooter position another imaginary semicircle (10 metres out from the top of the crease) connects to just outside the other shooter position on the opposite side of the floor, forming an arc that ultimately connects to the diagonals (45°).
Body Momentum/Weight Transfer/Rotating Hips-Shoulders (Torso)/Torque (See Stickwork Drill #5C):Whether running to deliver a body-check or taking a shot-on-the-run, lacrosse players need to understand how to utilize their “body momentum” (force = mass x acceleration).
For example, when shooting the ball if players take a “crow hop” the force of the set-shot will be significantly greater.Simply “transferring weight” from one’s back foot to the front foot will also increase the force of an action.The “x-factor” so to speak, is torque, which is a twisting force established at the moment of force (also applies to Punching Technique).When shooting or passing the ball, torque is generated by rotating the hips and shoulders (torso).
Shot Selection/Changing Levels: A mental process of either taking a shot or passing a shot up (not taking a shot), is known as "shot selection." Being ready to shoot and in the "triple threat position," is half of the equation. The other half depends on game-specific context variables, most notably: whether there is an open“shooting lane” toward the net and whether the shooter has "time & space."Too often, beginning lacrosse players will take the first shot available, and not necessarily the best available shot (shot clock dependent).
Players must use good judgment before taking low percentage shots outside, or on the cusp of, the prime scoring area. It is usually better to “curl” out and look for a teammate who is in a better position, rather than take a low-percentage shot.
Shot accuracy and knowing where to shoot on a goalie is the next part of the equation, and is usually the responsibility of coaches and “scouts,” although input from players and goaltenders are equally as important.
The concept of "changing levels" as a shooter, or while faking, is usually best practice for good "finishers." As a shooter,"faking" an underhand shot and then throwing an overhandbounce shot, is an example of changing "vertical levels." Changing "horizontal levels" would be taking your first shot far side high, second shot short-side low, third shot far-side low, and fourth shot short-side high; ideally with different release points. The same principle holds true when faking "in tight," horizontal fakes go from short-side to far-side or vice versa, while an example of a vertical level change would be a "dip & dunk."
“Improve Your Angle”/Come Across The Net/Take An “Extra Step”/Crease Walk/45° Angle/“Tough Offense” (See Loose Ball Drill #4):Too many times players settle for marginal shots from the perimeter of the prime scoring area, especially when there’s substantial time left on the shot clock.As a general offensive principle, offensive players should always be trying to “improve the angle” of their shot, until the very last second.Down low at the crease is the biggest trouble spot in this regard.
Too many times players settle for shots on less than a “45° angle” from the post (which is the cut-off between a "quality shot" and a bad shot (See Legend), either to avoid getting hit or for lack of understanding angles (see “eyes of the stick”).
Players should be coached to always “take the extra step” “across the net” where possible (see crease dive), otherwise known as "walking the crease" or "crease walking." The “toughest” lacrosse player is the one who sacrifices their body and takes a hit in order to improve their angle and make the best of a scoring opportunity.
Time & Space/Time & Room/Open/Open Space/Wide Open/Uncontested/“Naked” (See Stickwork Drill #5A):"Open space" can refer to an area of the floor that is vacant (unimpeded), otherwise a “soft spot” or breakdown in the defense which allows a player the "time & space" required to free up their hands for a quality shot.
“Disguise”/Deception/Decoy/Unpredictability/“Telegraphing” (See Offense Drill #8): After players get accustomed to the fundamentals of lacrosse they need to start developing qualities of “deception” and “unpredictability.”Runners should learn how to utilize faking and how to “disguise” their true intentions on any given play.Goalies need to work on the art of “give & take” and reading body language.If lacrosse players don’t use variety and disguise, coaches will easily be able to have their players adjust and defend against that certain player’s/team’s tendencies.
Coaches and players must also be aware of a "decoy," or movement designed to draw attention away from the intended action. For example, during a set-play where a teams best "play-maker" runs to a certain spot on the floor, uses and/or "sets" a pick, but ultimately the "play" is designed for another player in another area on the floor.
Fakes/Snap Fakes/Faking/Misdirection/Deeking/“Selling” (See Loose Ball Drill #4):Faking has to do with anticipation; predicting what your opponent will do. Advanced players are good at anticipating, but are vulnerable to fakes (fakes don't work as well on beginner/intermediate players - they don't know any better). There are many type of fakes used in lacrosse including:head fakes, eye fakes, body fakes, stick fakes and “shot fakes.”Generally, as players' skill development improves so too does their ability to “sell” fakes.By definition a “fake” is the act of performing a movement without completion (deceptive), thus fooling the opponent.
Speaking primarily to stick fakes, faking a goalie usually consists of quick ¼ turns of the stick ("snap fakes"), as if a player is going to shoot:high, low, left, right or behind the back.The stick is most often held by a player’s ear (in “the box”) when faking, and it is a slight action of the top wrist/hand on the stick (avoid bottom hand faking), combined with complimentary body movements, that are used to sell the fake.A full 360° rotation of the stick is also sometimes used as a fake shot or pass, as well.
Often, a simple dip of the shoulder (“dropping the shoulder”) or stick (“dropping the stick”) can be enough to open up the “top corners” on goalies susceptible to “dropping.”
The remedial version of a fake-series would be to quickly fake short-side and then shoot to the goalie’sfar-side or vice-versa.The next “move” in this series of fakes is to fake short, far, and then shoot back to toward the short-side.The shot can be taken aiming for the top corner, or as a “crippler” to the “six-hole” (or lower).The exact opposite fake series could also be executed with similar variations, using “far-short-far” (shooting far-side to finish).
Body fakes are a final consideration, as they are the complimentary aspect of faking that helps “sell” the move.
Dip & Dunk:Faking low (dropping one’s shoulder/stick) then shooting high over top of the goalie, into the top portion of the net, under the cross-bar.This move can be set-up with early fakes or done with very quickhands in front of the net.
“Shoot Around The Pipes”/“Shoot Along The Pipes”/“Bar Down”:When players get the time & space to shoot, they should aim “around the pipes,” for the most part.This simply means close to the posts of the net:bottom corners, “top cheese” or “six-holes.”
In cases where a player can’t execute a particular movement 9 out of 10 times, they should not attempt the move in Game Play (it must be mastered in practice) and instead these players should stick to "higher percentage" plays.
Offensive players should constantly seek to improve their angle and should be held accountable if they continually take bad shots.Tough lacrosse players take the extra step to the middle, knowing they will get hit, but doing what they have to in order to improve their angle.
Ultimately, if no shot presents itself in 30 seconds and only one or two seconds are left on the shot clock, it is usually best to simply dump the ball into the corner away from the opposing players. In doing this, any chance of reverse transition is virtually eliminated and all offensive players get the chance to either play defense or run hard off the floor for a line change.
60-40/40-60/Lacrosse IQ/Game Sense/“Selfish” (See Stickwork Drill #8):Most of what occurs in a lacrosse game is a natural stimulus-response, in that something happens or is happening which signals for a player to react.A big part of "reading and reacting" during lacrosse, however, is to know when to do something and when not to, both for liability (particularly defensive liability) and energy conservation purposes.Many needless turnovers or goals against are due to forcing plays that are not high percentage, and these plays usually fall somewhere in the 60-40, 40-60 range in terms of likelihood of success (60/40 usually being acceptable and 40/60 being unacceptable).
Players with high “lacrosse IQ (game sense),” usually offensive/defensive captains, are often the players that are best at understanding the difference between 60/40 and 40/60 plays, as well as game flow.Players should make simple, high percentage plays on defense and in transition, while taking timely, high quality shots on offense.Unintelligent play anywhere on the floor will usually cost a team on defense because they are unable to adequately rest, creating a downward spiral in the momentum aspect of the game (see multiple re-sets).
“Calling” For A Pass/Looking For A Pass/Eye Contact/“Here’s Your Help” (See Warm-Up Drill #6):This team “principle” has to do with communicating while in possession of the ball on offense, especially in instances where player’s haven’t yet made mutual “eye contact” (non-verbal communication).Whenever a player is undoubtedly wide open or otherwise available as an outlet, they should get into the habit of yelling a teammate’s name, or any other particular word (“here’s your help”) or action (“flashing the stick”) that lets the other player know where they are (should be emphasized by coaches during practice).
Otherwise, when a player is "wide open" in the prime scoring area they should be communicating (yelling) as loud as possible to get the attention of their teammate, letting them know where they are.A player can also “flash” the stick and yell for the ball as a fake to “occupy” a defender, when in fact there is no ball about to be passed.
When skilled passers look to be shopping, the on-ball defender needs to get on hands, keep their stick up as much as possible and use "short" slashes in order to disrupt the opponent’s vision and accuracy of their pass. Passers will often "bottom hand cradle" while shopping, for ball manipulation and timing purposes; this becomes a natural landmark for the defender with their short slashes.
Play Makers/ “Back Breakers”:A team’s best and most timely “play-makers” are usually goaltenders or offensive specialists; but transitiongoals can also be “back breakers” (speaking to momentum) and sometimes they come from unlikely sources.Play makers are usually great one-on-one players who play with a sort of reckless abandon (“no fear”) that coach’s revere (see captains); able to “carry the team on their back,” score clutch goals and” make plays” when the team needs them most.
“Forcing a pass” means to pass the ball to a player that is well covered. Just because a player is calling for a pass doesn’t necessarily mean they should be passed to. At times, a player can’t see a trail check from behind, or a player coming off of the bench.
Forcing a shot is when a player attempts to take a shot while they are well covered by a defender, or when there is a lot of traffic in front of the net and a high likelihood of the shot being blocked (see bad shots).
The general team rule is to follow your pass (on your proper floor side), calling for a “give-and-go,” then doing a “V-cut” and setting a pick if a pass is not received (see offensive motion). By following the pass until it's caught any missed passes will be such that a player is already actively pursuing the loose ball, perhaps keeping it alive and/or retrieving the ball for the offense (while the rest of the offenders begin to retreat).
Keeping The Ball “In Front”/“Short Hops”/ “Hand-Cuffed”/“Alligator Arms” (See Warm-Up Drill #2):On loose balls and also receiving passes, players should make every effort to keep the ball “in front” of them; as opposed to reaching with “alligator arms” (see “two hand tough”) or not adjusting to an errant pass.At times, players’ sticks will “hook” low, perhaps even bounce off the floor (“short hop”), or otherwise hook toward the receiver’s off-hand (“hand-cuffed”).
Lacrosse players need to be able to adjust to these sorts of unfavourable circumstances and put themselves in the most likely position to succeed.Keeping the ball in front of you ensures that if the ball is missed, at least it will hit your body and be close by to pick-up.Attempting to catch the ball in the box or corral the ball with good body positioning (see box out) should be encouraged by all means possible, if time permits.
The most common error in this regard is when players throw their stick/body at the ball as it approaches, with rigid/flexed muscles. Instead, they should wait for the ball to arrive with relaxed fingers, bringing their stick “head” back slightly (even with or slightly behind the player’s head), cushioning the ball as it enters (just like receiving a pass in hockey).
A veteranadvanced lacrosse player that has been playing/practicing lacrosse for a long time and/or at an exceptionally high level (professional), has a certain look to them, otherwise referred to as looking “smooth.”
Adjacent Pass:A pass to a teammate that is directly beside another teammate, with no defenders in between.An adjacent pass is generally regarded as the “safest” pass, but doesn’t necessarily accomplish much as far as meaningful ball movement is concerned.
Cross-Body Pass/Cross-Body Catch/Cross-Face (See Warm-Up Drill #1A):A pass to a same-handed player from the middle of the floor, is usually a “cross body pass,” which means the stick travels across the player’s body/face (see face dodge). This can be a tough pass to judge when players are on-the-run or in transition, so players need to use special attention/concentration when making this pass in order to avoid a turnover.
When a ball is passed towards a player’s off-hand (i.e. right side of a "left-handed"player), that player should turn their hips and bring their entire stick/stick-head over to their right side, with the stick head exposed to the ball (“cross-body catch”).
Skip passes are sometimes risky, but are used to pass the ball to an open teammate when a good scoring opportunity is presented (i.e. open cutter).Long skip passes are often referred to as low percentage passes and should never be forced to a teammate that is not undoubtedly open.
It is usually better to be patient and hold the ball, rather than "force a pass" to someone with a defender in the passing lane.
Dump Pass/Flip Pass/Touch Pass/Soft Pass/Shovel Pass (See Offense Drill #5A):When two players are relatively close to each other and attempting to make a pass in-tight, as in a pick & roll situation, usually they do so with a “touch pass.”This means players need to be able to take some speed off and “soften up” the pass, at times reaching around defenders using their bottom hand as a lever to flip the ball to the "open" player.
Players will also need to be creative about the method/release they throw this pass with, thereby ensuring that teammates are able to safely catch the ball.Examples of these passes include an underhandcross-body “flip” pass, a half-speed straight overhand “dump” and a “soft” back-hand pass, to name a few.
Flat Pass/Suicide Pass/Rainbow Pass:A flat pass is when a player is in a straight line relative to the passer, running away from them (see lead pass) while looking back for the pass (which leaves them vulnerable to a vicious body check).This situation tends to occur most in transition or off of a pick & roll.The onus is on the passer not to make this pass, but if they’ve already passed the ball and it’s too late, they should at the very least yell “head’s up.”
In transition, players without the ball are taught to stay wide in the Outside Lanes, and players with the ball are taught to run the ball to the “middle lane,” which in part helps prevent “suicide passes.” Likewise, the goaltender needs to be sure not to throw a "rainbow pass" in a similar situation, which is essentially a "home-run pass" gone wrong.
During the pick-And-roll game it is also up to the passer to not make a flat pass to the "roller," especially if there is a hard slide is coming.
Spacing/Staying “Spread”/Staying Wide/Lateral Spacing/Extending The Defense (See Playbook):Utilizing floor space well (good spacing) is an important fundamental for the individual player within a “team offense.”The focal point of spacing is normally the position of the ball.The player carrying the ball should have an opportunity to beat their check at all times.The more space this player is provided to do so (staying “spread”), the more successful the player is likely to be.All off-ball players need to be aware of creating space for the ball carrier, and staying clear (clearing out) of the middle of the floor, while also maintaining "lateral spacing," between the middle and the mid-boards.
If players are adjacent to the ball carrier they need to either stay far away, “be a threat” or somehow have their check engaged, so that they are hesitant to slide and help a teammate defend.It is equally important for off-ball players to take advantage of space if their check vacates their defensive position, in order to provide help to another defender.Too often the offensive player who has been “left” by their defender simply stands and watches, rather than becoming more of a threat.The team rule of thumb is "if your defender moves, you move” ("follow the slide").
Defensive players generally want to stay “tight” as a unit.By staying spread, swinging the ball and keeping one’s check engaged (working hard), it becomes possible to “extend the defense” and create space in the middle for high percentage shots.
Utilizing space is equally important in transition as well; transitioning players need to ensure that defenders are not presented with the ability to more or less check two offensive players with just one defender.Proper spacing during fast-breaks is also referred to as running in your "lanes."
Clear Out/Vacate:Whenever a teammate is carrying the ball toward another player on the same team, that player should set a pick/seal or otherwise “clear out” of that space so as to not attract a double-team, to open up more space in the middle for their teammate and otherwise to help prevent a “stagnant” offense.In the offensive zone, players should be continuously cycling, which implies clearing out where necessary, as players continuously keep their feet moving.
A juke is the other most effective technique for opening up space to receive a pass, other than just finding soft spots in the defense.
Players should be prepared to pop-out at all times while off-ball, especially after a failed pick & roll attempt, in which case most offensive coaches will preach to swing the ball ("keeping it hot").
Engage/Re-Engage/Occupying/Going To “The Middle”/“Paying The Price” (See Cradling Drill #6):Engaging is when an offensive player initiates contact with the defensive player who is checking them.An offensive player’s willingness to engage is a statement of a team’s willingness to “pay the price” (play physical), draw penalties, and get open in the middle of the defense (where the most goals are scored).
Perimeter shooting needs a complimentary inside presence. In a pick & roll situation it is essential to engage the defender; otherwise the defender being picked will easily evade the pick, rendering the play useless and ineffective.
Some players need to “crash and bang” (aka “power forwards”), some need to use their speed, while others stay wide and look for soft spots (balanced offense). It is important that players use the picks that are set for them, while also setting some picks themselves (asserting a physical presence on offense), otherwise the morale of the offense can go sour.
Cutting/Cutters (See Offense Drill #2):Planting hard off of a stiff outside leg, while at the same time bending the inside leg (until shins are parallel), then extending the inside leg explosively in the opposite direction, is called “cutting.”Offensive players should constantly be “cutting” through themiddle and around defenders, while picking and filling the standard offensivepositions as they continuously cycle around the offensive zone.
A “cutter” does not want to stand around the crease for an extended amount of time, for fear of clogging up the middle of the floor (where goals are scored). A great cutter moves every time their defender turns their head and is quick and unpredictable.
Cuts need to be timed appropriately, so players are not all cutting at the same time. During an off-ballpick & roll up high, for instance, the “roller” will usually cut towards the middle, with the player being picked for making a back-doorcut down the Outside Lane.
“Baiting” (See Defense Drill #8):Where an average offensive player seems to be committed to doing one thing, a really good offensive player will “bait” like they are doing one thing and then do another (deception).
Zig-Zag (See Cradling Drill #2):A running pattern sometimes accompanied by pylons in a beginner drill, characterized by cuts on 45° angles backward or forward (left and right), and of set distances apart (see tracking); generally used to mimic the cutting patterns of a game.
“Drifting” (See Transition Drill #6A):If a player finds his/herself on their wrong side of the floor with the ball, they should attempt to “drift” over toward their proper floor side as best as possible.This is done to generate the best angle available for a shot.If pressured and unable to get a good angle, a shot should not be forced and the player should either pass the ball to a teammate or carry it to their proper floor side.
At even strength, play makers are able to “draw” attention (double teams) if they are able to get past their check one-on-one,forcing a defensive slide which usually leaves a teammate "wide open" for a “dump” pass (another form of “drawing & dumping”).
Generally, it is not recommended to “fade away” from the net while shooting, but when shooting-on-the-run while sweeping across the top-side of a defender, a “sub-shot” while fading away can be an effective shot; so can engaging then “stepping back” and shooting.
Mismatch/“Dropped Stick” (See Defense Drill #6): A mismatch is when a small, speedy defender is matched up against a bigger, stronger defender; or when a big strong defender is matched up against a smaller, speedy defender.In both instances, offensive players should attempt to go one-on-one.An experienced (veteran) offender going against a “rookie” (unproven) defender can also be considered a mismatch at the elite levels of lacrosse.
Offenders should also be wary of any defender that “drops their stick,” as this player should also be isolated in an attempt to draw a holding penalty: an outside shot against a defender with a stick is unacceptable in this situation.
Stutter-Step (See Cradling Drill #2):A series of short steps forward generally used to set-up another one-on-one move towards the goal or a shot.
Bull Rush/Driving Down/Driving In/“Collapsing The Wall” (See Cradling Drill #6): When an offender recognizes a mismatch and has a size advantage over the player defending them, lowering their lead shoulder (centre of gravity) as they impose their way to the net is often good in terms of creating offensive flow (must still be timed appropriately).
At the very least, a bull rush can lead to a penalty against the defense, as they scramble to help each other.At this point, the bull rusher still has the option to “dump” the ball to a teammate before a slide arrives.
Posting Up/Rocker-Step:(See Stickwork Drill #8): When an offensive player has a mismatch in size versus the defender checking them, “posting up” can be used in close to the net, whereby an offensive player turns their back to the net and leans back on their opponent in an attempt to shield and drive them backward.
After catching a pass down low in the post or engaging in a post-up position as a ball-carrier, perhaps setting-up a potential Isolation play as a team, a drop-step underneath or screen shot around the defender is nearly inevitable. A fake drop-step, otherwise known as a "rocker-step," can also be a good set up move.
Dodge/Face Dodge/Split Dodge (See Cradling Drill #2): A dodge is a quick movement (or fake movement), usually toward the opponents net, with or without the ball, using quick foot and sometimes arm/hand movements; starting at roughly a sticks length away from a defender. Successful dodges are usually set up with changes in speed/direction, and also see the player come out of the dodge with speed/power. There are many different styles of dodges, described primarily by the action taken toward the net.
This move and others are utilized to get around aggressive defenders or to free up time & space for a quality shot. Where possible, offensive players should attack the butt-end of the defender’s stick ("away from their stick"). If they manage to get a step underneath of the defender after the face dodge, they will need to be weary of the trail check (ball protection) as they try to get a shot to the goalie's far-side, if possible. Otherwise, players should curl out into the corner if they can't get a good angle to the net, and keep the ball moving.
Juke/Jab-Step/Side-Step/Counter-Step/Hitch-Step (See Cradling Drill #2):A juke is a fake cut one way (“jab-step”), then planting hard off of a stiff outside leg while the inside leg is bent and parallel, eventually extending explosively in the opposite direction.
Off-ball, a quick “side step” in one direction and then moving in the opposite direction is often enough to engage one’s check and keep them off balance.
Otherwise known as a “counter-step” or "hitch-step," these “steps” can be also be utilized to deceptively mask a ball-carrier’s true intentions. It is very common for offensive ball carriers to "jab-step" then try to beat their check overtop for a "sweep shot."
Where possible, offensive players should spin toward the butt-end of the defender’s stick ("away from their stick"), initiate contact at roughly a sticks length from the defender and accelerate out of the dodge.
A "roll dodge" would see the offender initiate contact with their lead shoulder, and drop-stepunderneath or overtop of the defender, simultaneously pushing off of their inside foot and swinging their outside foot around their check. If they roll overtop of the defender (which is a move used less frequently), great offensive players are able to shoot coming out of the roll (think sweep shot). Otherwise, if they roll underneath, it is usually best to try to get a quality shot to the goalie's far-side.
Toe Drag (See Cradling Drill #2):Somewhat the opposite of a swim move, the player either takes their top hand off of their stick or uses both hands, while pulling (dragging) the ball low across the front of their body and side-stepping around a defender.
This move is most commonly used after a “fake shot,” but can also be done at any time using quick feet.Players are at risk of having the ball stripped if the defender anticipates what the player is doing and gets their stick in the way (see poke check).
In professional lacrosse (National Lacrosse League), providing you take-off (jump) from outside of the crease and the ball goes in before you land on the ground, everything is legit (goal).In other Leagues, crease diving may be called more strictly, such that if any part of the player’s body moves through the crease, the play shall be called for a crease violation.
This east-west movement also opens up the five-hole; shooting at the goalie’s feet while sweeping across the net can also be effective in this scenario.
Dunking (See Playbook):Dunking is only permitted in certain Leagues; usually professional, but also in some international play.A “dunk” is like a “crease dive,” except usually from the side of the net or from behind.The specific action of dunking the ball is similar to basketball, except the player jumps from outside of the crease and tucks the ball into the net, flush against the post.Some leagues would automatically call this a crease violation though, as it adds an entirely new element to the game.Dunking is also referenced for shooting the ball over-top of a goalie in front of the net, usually after some sort of fake (see dip & dunk).