3 Effective Formations for Man Up Offense

A team equipped with a dynamic extra man offense will have a considerable advantage on its opponent. Meanwhile, former Johns Hopkins head coach and current UMBC coach Don Zimmerman has long been considered a mastermind of the extra man offense. With Zimmerman as your guide, learn three different effective man-up formations that can give your team different looks and a number of opportunities to be successful. Each formation is unique, so be sure to see what works for you and your personnel before implementing on the lacrosse field.

Remember, each formation will yield different opportunities, so watch as Zimmerman diagrams each set before detailing key roles, movements and options for each player. Also, watch each set live in action through team simulations.

The 3-3 Formation

The main advantage of the 3-3 Formation is that all six of your players are in front of the goal. Each player is above the goal line extended and has the ability to shoot the ball. Ultimately, this puts a lot of pressure on the defense.

The key players here are the middle-man up top and the inside middle-man. The top middle-man should be your best all-around player. This player can shoot, feed and make good decisions. Meanwhile, your inside player must be excellent off the ball, can read the defense, knows how to get open, and can also finish with a goal at a high clip.

Keep in mind, there’s a difference between a shooter and a finisher. When a finisher receives the ball inside, you can count on a goal being scored. These players aren’t born, but these are normally the kids who take great pride in working inside. It’s a tough position because you draw a lot of checks and physical play. But if you work hard and focus on your shooting, you will have a lot of opportunities to score high percentage goals. And that’s the goal: trying to get the highest percentage shot that we possibly can.

Within the 3-3 formation, in past years, Zimmerman’s teams have used a right-hander on the right side if they are the best option for that position. This brings up the point of using your strengths. Zimmerman is a firm believe that a player should always work to use his strengths whenever he can. In this situation (where a lefty may be better suited to play on the right side), we have no problem using a right-handed player. Remember, don’t switch your stick over to the weaker hand to avoid pressure. Instead, adjust your body to give you room and some cushion in order to stay effective. That may be more difficult down closer to the goal, but you can still certainly get the job done from here.


2-3-1 Formation

In the 2-3-1 formation, the defense must turn its back to find the ball. If you have good work by your outside shooters to find the open lanes, you will certainly get some quality shots out of this set.

On the perimeter, it’s key to have excellent shooters. Meanwhile, the man behind the goal is considered the “QB” of the offense. Also, it’s important to have an above-average inside man, a player who is a terrific finisher.


1-4-1 Formation

In the 1-4-1 formation, you really want a strong shooter out in front. Like with the 2-3-1, the “QB” is behind the goal. Now, you have two players inside that are adept at getting open. All the while, the right and left wings can position themselves to get open or step up and take the open shot and finish.


Overall, as a coach, you need to decide what your team strengths are and then cater your sets based on personnel. For instance, if you have two really good outside shooters, then you probably want to go with the 2-3-1 set. If you have two strong inside players, then the 1-4-1 might be your best bet as you are equipped with a pair of skilled players in the most dangerous area of the field to score goals.

The following clips can be found on Championship Productions’ DVD “Extra Man Offense” with Don Zimmerman. Check out more exclusive videos by visiting our extensive lacrosse catalog.

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