Back in April, former Maryland head coach Dave Cottle took you through the 1-4-1 Zone Offense. In this week’s Chalk Talk feature, we’ll focus on the 2-3-1 Offense, an effective system that presents a number of problems for defenses and opens up a lot of possibilities for the offense. Follow along as Coach Cottle breaks down alignments, options, player roles, and demonstrates how to change formations.
In the 2-3-1, two players will be up top, three wil be out in front of the goal, and one player will be behind the net. In this dodge-oritend offense, the first question we must ask ourselves is, “How will the defense slide to an out top dodge?” Well, if the defense is coming adjacent to an out top dodge, they might have three defenders up top versus our two players up top. That’s a win situation for us. So the key here is to try and dodge inside out and draw the adjacent slide.
Once we draw that slide, we will move the ball, whether it be one or two passes. Then, we are immediately attacking. Now there are two defenders on the left side of the field occupied by just one of our offensive players. Where the defense makes its next slide will determine who will be open on the backside.
When the ball gets moved from 6 to 2 and to 1, and the far side close defender crashes nearside, the far side top defenders might crash down low. We can now have the option for a skip to 5, or a pass to 4 down low. The basic spacing between players in this offense is very important to us. As a coach, it’s also vital to find out what the right relationship between players is.
**Key: Out of the 2-3-1, we will look to dodge from the wing or behind or out top. Essentially, we want to dodge, draw two defenders, and then attack.
There are a lot of options we can do within this offensive set: Roll off, pop off, carry, or follow to the outside.. For instance, we can roll off or pop off into a different formation (like to a 3-3), or even roll off or pop off into a 1-4. For more on these plays, read our feature from earlier this year breaking down the 1-4-1 offense.
In terms of a follow, this is when you throw the ball from out top to a wing and the player who made the pass will follow for a shot. It’s quite ideal for a great outside shooter, however, it’s not ideal for a player that doesn’t have an accurate outside shot as it disrupts your offense and allows the defense to pack it in tighter.
On a skip pass, it’s either a shot or down. Remember, never skip to a player who can’t shoot. This is why it’s key to get to know your players and what their strengths are.
Meanwhile, the 2-3-1 is a dodge-oriented offense. Therefore, we adjust our positioning as the ball is adjusted. Plus, if you are dangerous inside, it makes the defense collapse down, and this opens up chances on the outside.
**Ideal Scenario for the 2-3-1 Offense: 1 is a great feeder. 2 and 4 are great shooters. 5 and 6 are great dodgers. 3 is a great inside player.
We will start in a 1-4 and then change formations to a 2-3-1 and play on. Notice the following maneuver here as the crease pops off, leading into to a 2-3. In the 2-3 Freelance, we will start with a dodge out of this formation with 5 and come down the alley. He will then pass to 4, and on to 1, and back around to the other side. The important thing here is the spacing between the wings and the players up top.
The clips seen in this week’s Chalk Talk feature can be found on Championship Productions’ DVD “1-4-1 and 2-3-1 Adjustable Zone Offense.” To check out our entire offensive lacrosse catalog, click here.
This week’s Chalk Talk feature focuses on the 1-4-1 Zone Offense and includes a complete breakdown by former Maryland men’s head lacrosse coach Dave Cottle.
The 1-4-1 has tremendous opportunity against the zone defense because the zone is set up from top to bottom. In other words, the wing players have the chance to attack between the layer of the base defense and the layer out top. By implementing wings, offensive teams will get the chance to dodge a short stick with their better attacks and can really generate some high-percentage scoring opportunities.
Watch Coach Cottle break down the key concepts of the offense and illustrate the key strategies with on-field simulations and whiteboard discussion.
Offensive Set-Up and Positions
In the 1-4-1 Offense, the players numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4 are perimeter players while 5 and 6 serve as the crease players, stacked in the middle. 1 is behind the goal, 2 and 4 are on the wings and 3 starts up top. The responsibility of the crease players is that any time the ball gets to 1, both try to occupy the posts of the goal. It’s important that units always remain dangerous whenever the ball goes from 2 or 4 to 1.
Typically in the 1-4-1, players will not throw the ball inside from 3 to 5 and 6. This is quite a difficult catch and shoot — especially with one’s back to the cage — so it’s encouraged that you eliminate the potential turnovers by keeping the ball to the outside. Meanwhile, it is also recommended that 1 typically throws to 5 and 6, or 2 and 4 throw inside to someone who can handle the ball and get a shot off.
Meanwhile, the players on the outside are taught to be in a diamond shape and they all have relationships with each other. As 1 adjusts his position, the ballside player moves down and the backside guy follows behind him. In other words, it’s a diamond to a box responsibility. If 2 dodges down the alley and throws to 1, then 5 and 6 have a whole different responsibility. If 1 has the ball, we want all the other players to be in a position so they can be dangerous and if they had to get a shot off, they could. All the while, when the ball moves to 2, we want 5, 6, 3, 4 and 1 to be accounted for by the opposition. An effective move is to have 1 sneak in on the backside or frontside of the goal.
Additionally in the 1-4-1, it’s key to set things up by ball movement and action on the crease by a dodge from the four best perimeter players: 1, 2, 3, and 4. Ideally, you want to have a lefty in the 4 position and a righty in the 2 position. Then, 3 is your best outside shooter and can go both hands. Inside, it’s helpful to have a righty and a lefty, and both can cut in opposite directions when the ball is passed to “X” and be effective on each side of the posts.
Strategy and Key Concepts
Remember, the key to the 1-4-1 is a diamond to a box formation on the perimeter, with two guys moving inside all the time. In certain situations, you may find it important that when a player carries to an area, it’s helpful to fill back that area with a crease player. For instance, if 3 carries the ball to the right side, we have the ability to fill an area by 6 moving up and then making it a 2-3-1.
You can carry from any of the four perimeter spots, and up top, it’s called a Pop-Off when the crease guy rolls in. When the ball is behind the cage and we carry and roll a guy in from the crease, it’s called a Roll-Off. It’s quite typical to change formations from a 1-4-1 to a 2-3-1 through pop-offs and roll-offs.
Finally, it’s important to implement skip passes in the offensive set. Be sure to have players position themselves to be in a skip lane. When the ball is skipped from out top to down low, it should result in a shot. On a skip pass from behind to out top, it should result in either a shot or a pass to a guy who’s close to the goal.
The previous Chalk Talk feature on the 1-4-1 Offense can be seen in its entirety on Championship Productions’ DVD “1-4-1 and 2-3-1 Adjustable Zone Offense.” To check out our entire offensive lacrosse catalog, click here.