Substitution Techniques and Transition Drills with Florida State Lacrosse

The latest “game scenarios and strategies” segment deals with how to substitute during odd situations and react quickly on transition breaks. It also highlights the Toomey Drill, a high-impact conditioning drill that works on quick transitions on offense and defense. Florida State coaches Bill Harkins and Matt Waesche both lead you through the segments, first with whiteboard diagrams and then via live on-field simulations.


This drill focuses on how to handle substitutions during odd situations. Let’s say we’re bringing off the field a guy who is not right for a scenario, but then the scenario quickly changes. For instance, we may have the ball on offense and we’ve got a LSM way up the field, but we don’t want them up there. That player will come straight to the sideline as we’ve got an offensive player waiting to come onto the field.

But all of sudden, we lose possession of the ball. Well, now we don’t want that offensive guy to come onto the field. We want the LSM on ball as soon as possible. In this case, we call a simple “Veto” and that cancels the sub. The guy in the box stays in the box and then the LSM circles out and sprints to the middle of the field, looks down field, and then quickly assesses the action.

We’re now ready to react quickly, and hopefully quicker than the other team – especially in transition situations. Remember, things don’t always go as planned. By teaching the players these concepts, we are still able to play lacrosse with the right personnel and in the right situation. It’s also a way to eliminate confusion and gain an extra advantage through substitutions.


The Toomey Drill

This drill works with three defenders and three offensive players. There’s also a goalie and a lot of balls in the cage. First, the offense goes against the defense for 10 seconds. The offense only has 10 seconds to shoot the ball. No matter where the offensive players are positioned, at 10 seconds the coach yells, “Shoot.” Next, no matter how the shot ends, the goalie takes the ball (or one from inside the cage) and starts a transition break down field. The goalie can’t carry past the restraining line. The defense now must break out immediately and the offense must ride immediately.

Once the defender gets out between the midfield line and the restraining line (about 40 yards), he will turn and throw the ball back to the offensive player. That offensive player will now streak back and press the cage on the transition break. That defenseman will be trailing him, too.

We now have a 3-on-2 situation with just two defenders back. First, the mission is to stop the ball first, then force a pass and give enough time for the trailer to come in and play defense. The drill will continue back and forth every 10 seconds. It’s also serves as a high-energy conditioning drill.

The goal here is that we want our players to understand that you often go from defense to offense and then back to defense again (and vice versa). There are a lot of quick transitions in the game of lacrosse and players must be prepared for these.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “How to Run the Box: Substitution Schemes to Create Mismatches.” Click here to check out more videos in our extensive lacrosse library.


Thank You!

This is an amazing opportunity for the game, the coaches, and a whole culture to grow!

I appreciate your efforts!

john alexander
46600 west main
northville, mi 48167

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