Lax Coach Mike: Spice It Up to Help Your Man-Down Defense

By Mike Muetzel,

In a recent podcast, head coach Chris Ryan offered a unique idea to help work on defensive fundamentals inside a zone defense on man-down. The sequence begins with working your 6v5 with man-up offense against your man-down zone defense. Then comes the twist ...

At Mercyhurst they add an additional offensive player. The configuration is now an offensive player in the crease and the other six around the outside. Now we have a 7v5 man-up scenario and let them play. This will be a little uncomfortable for the defense at first, so be patient. The drill is designed to improve your defense, so keep your offensive man-up spread out, even if you like a 1-4-1 look or a pick play inside.

The defensive focus includes teaching rotating hard into the pass, to scrape back as well as recover. It is a great tool for increasing communication and protecting the "hub" when defensive players are not on the ball. And, of course, we can use this configuration to improve rotating defenses on man-down as well, even a "box and one."

Encourage your offense to move the ball, then look for skip passing lanes, low to high as well as high to low. Likewise, it is a great tool to reinforce the defense keeping their sticks up to the inside passing lanes, anticipation and open body positioning, all in a very tough environment.

We took this concept into our even 6v6 to 7v6 scrimmage time as well. But the additional variation that players also love is changing it up to use seven defenders going against six offense players.

On many high school teams, there might be one or two dominant offensive players. In my experience, often the other offensive players have a tendency to pass them the ball and then stand still and watch, even in a motion offense or especially if you are running an open set.

In this case, with seven defenders and a quick double team on the key offensive initiators, there is no option but to be moving off ball if you want to be successful and get a good look at the cage. You might run your offense against this look with rotating offensive triangles up top when the ball is behind or with your attackmen rotating in quick triangles when the ball is up top. Again, the key is quick movement off ball, and if the look is not open in the crease, then immediately back out to the top or bottom. We also focus here on picks both on and off ball offensively to a quick pass-pass to a skip.

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All of the previous articles on coaching and drills from Lax Coach Mike can be found on the Lacrosse Drills, Instruction, and Training page. His eBook is also available.


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