Running the Box: Ways to Create Advantages Off Face-Off Substitutions

This week’s “Team Concepts and Strategies” segment highlights a little twist off of a standard substitution that lacrosse programs at every level can implement.

When the ball has entered the offensive zone just seconds after a face-off, the offensive team will likely have a few “specialty” players still on the field that they won’t want on the offensive end. This is the perfect opportunity to go into an “orange” substitution, which is the term commonly used by the Florida State men’s lacrosse team.

In other words, this substitution will see one defensive player go off the field and the new substitute move into the defensive player’s spot. This new substitute, which in this case is an offensive midfielder, can now get to the offensive side of the field once our specialty player crosses the midfield line. Then our preferred defensive player can replace the specialty player.

It’s substitution 101 for most lacrosse teams. However, here’s a variation on the orange substitution theme and a look at how you can take advantage off of a seemingly normal substitution.

Following a typical face-off scenario, it’s common for teams to substitute their long-stick midfielder off the field through orange. Well, instead of immediately getting this player to the sidelines, we’re going to take him to the offensive crease. It’s an unusual move and defenses often get confused.

With this in mind, we’re going to use this player to set a pick and create some chaos on the offensive end. First, we’ll get into our typical offensive set and then put our LSM right on the crease. Next, we’ll go through an orange substitution and have two defenders and an offensive midfielder waiting on the opposite side of the midfield line. At this time, we’ll have the offense cycle the ball around and then have the LSM set a pick up top for the top-side offensive midfielder. The offensive middie then works the pick, and as soon as the pick is set, the LSM sprints to midfield. If the offensive middie can’t get away a high-percentage shot off the screen, then the unit will cycle the ball around again before hitting the new — and sprinting — midfielder in stride for a quality offensive opportunity.

Through this, teams can attack the defense with speed out of a unique situation. If practiced and perfected, lacrosse squads can have a lot of success running this, and the play can become a very effective weapon, something the Florida State men’s lacrosse program can attest to.


This segment can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “How to Run the Box: Substitution Schemes to Create Mismatches” with Bill Harkins. Check out the entire Bill Harkins catalog here.

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