Are you searching for ways to thwart opponents in their own half of the field? Look no further than the 33 Zone Ride, a proven zone transition defense designed to stop all forms of clearing and transition. Watch as Limestone College head women’s lacrosse coach Scott Tucker lays out the foundation of the system, first using whiteboard diagrams before heading out for on-field demonstrations. This system is an effective way to force turnovers, control the tempo of the game, and keep the ball on your offensive end.
The purpose of the zone ride is to slow the ball down, prevent fast breaks, force long passes, and create turnovers.
Low Attackers – Responsible for protecting the middle of the field. Put pressure on the goalie with one of your attackers. Get one low attacker on the goal circle with his/her stick up and occupy that space. Force the goalie to pass to the outside or low defenders. The other low attacker is responsible for the 12-15 meter area. This player has the same goal as their teammate, but just in a different spot.
High Attackers – These players line up on the outsides. Put them up on same level as the 12-15 meter low attacker and about 4-5 yards from the restraining line. Occupy that space and pinch toward the middle. Adjust based on your opponent.
Middies – Set up just over the restraining line. All players must react to the ball. Every player’s responsibility changes, however, when the ball is passed. They must know where the ball is at all times.
Players will shift when the ball is passed by the offense. The ride starts off with pressure on the goalie by the low attacker. The riding team must anticipate the pass going to the outside. If the ball gets passed out to the wing, we must now shift all of our players to the ballside of the field. Occupy the clearing team members that are the biggest threat. Possession by the low defender triggers this shift.
Next, the low attacker (formerly on the goalie) now must drop to replace the spot by the other low attacker who was responsible for the middle. This low attacker now must shift to the ballside and the ballside middie will come up and support the high attacker. These two players are now responsible for double-teaming the ball on the ballside. Note: Never pursue the double team. Let them come to you.
From here, all other players are shifting and occupying the threats on the same side of the field that the ball is on. Take control by getting within a stick’s length of the nearest opponent in this space. Shut them off. Sometimes you must improvise. Look to be where you can be helpful. There should be no open players in this area.
After the double team is in place, the rest of the riding team will be in new positions after shifting. It’s key that the adjacent threats are cut off, otherwise the double team is a waste of energy. The only option for the clearing team now is the opposite low defender or the goalie.
Now let’s talk about the recovery when the ball switches to the other side of the field. Don’t run in straight lines. Instead, run in angles, or shift at a 45-degree angle to get ahead. We should give the new ball carrier only one option, which is to carry the ball up the field. If they do, it takes time. If we continue to shift over, eventually they will be forced to redirect the ball again. The low attacker and high attacker on that side will eventually go in for the double team while the trailing teammate must now shift and occupying those new spots. Stay ahead of the play and keep everything in front.
Watch in the video below as the clearing team comes in and we walk through this ride. The clearing team will break out into a basic clearing pattern. Notice the shift when the ball is passed to a low defender (when ball is in the air).