2 “Special-Situation” Lacrosse Techniques to Create Advantages

In the latest special situations & game strategies feature, we’ll focus on defensive substitution techniques and then wing play drills for face-off situations. Florida State men’s lacrosse coaches Bill Harkins and Matt Waesche will both lead you through the segments using whiteboard diagrams and live on-field simulations.

Efficient Substitutions: Defense Down the String

This drill recalls a scenario when you’re looking to sub out an entire defensive unit efficiently without allowing any fast breaks or other problems. However, you don’t want to bring out all three guys at once. Simply, if you lose the ball, it’s a 6-0 fast break the other way.

Meanwhile, your defensive unit also can’t afford to leave opponents open on the field any longer than they have to. Therefore, it’s key to slide defenders down the field and then get the new subs to rotate over. This enables you to still get good coverage of the entire field.


On the sideline, have your first sub defender ready to go. When you call “down the string”, your first defender on the field slides down the field (while watching the action) and the new sub works his way on. Our other two defenders come down the string and at the same time, our new substitute defender works his way all the way over to the opposite side to cover the opposite attackman. He should also be watching the action on the opposite side of the field in case we turn it over.

The other two players then slide down. The next substitute defender comes in, the other player comes off, and it repeats until all players have been changed (without leaving their attack uncovered).

Wing Play Drill

With the Wing Play Drill, get two face-off men ready to go at the X. Then get a long pole and a short stick set up on one restraining line, and another set of the same group on the opposite line. There will possibly be three balls in play simultaneously.


The face-off guys first battle at the X. Meanwhile, a nearby coach has two other balls and makes a decision as to how many balls will go in play. If he throws out two balls at once, one side of wing players go after a loose ball while the opposite side goes after the other ball, plus we’ve also got the two guys in the middle battling. You can even throw just one ball and have all the wing men fight for that GB. Or you can keep both balls in your hand and proceed like a normal face-off.

Tip: Look to get at 45-degree angles outside the circle for trail checks and opposite side traps.

With “hip”, this is a strategy when battling a fast opponent. It’s imperative to get your hip on your opponent and drive them away from the ball for two or three steps. This way, we should have an inside track to turn and get to the ball ourselves. Get leverage and go right to the ball.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “How to Run the Box: Substitution Schemes to Create Mismatches.” To check out more videos featuring special situations & plays, simply head over to our lacrosse library.

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