Legendary women’s lacrosse coach Cindy Timchal has produced eight national titles and more than 400 career wins during her illustrious career. So what’s been a major key to her success over the years? The current Navy head coach credits the “House Offense” for producing some potent attacks and getting the most out of players.
Through whiteboard diagrams and on-field demonstrations, Timchal breaks down some of the core elements of the offense before showcasing key drills that support this offensive approach. Look to incorporate this highly effective offense with your squad and take away a few competitive practice drills as well.
It’s key to be organized on the offensive end. This takes some time at practice and there’s a number of drills to help break this down. Basically, this is a 7-on-7 offense or “House” because it’s in the shape of a house, with a box in front, a player behind, and players working inside. A major goal here is to establish great balance.
Meanwhile, stickwork skills are extremely valuable. Players should keep their sticks close to the body, tuck them in, and work on snapping moves in order to get more effective with their scoring abilities. It’s also key that they are constantly working in tight quarters and under great defensive pressure, just like in a game situation.
Spacing is also very important with this offense. Players can’t be too tight. This allows the defense to mark them more effectively. Too often the offense is spread out, making the passing lanes too far away. Proper spacing is critical to success here. Depending on the defense, the set-up is going to line up between the eight-meter and 12-meter lines.
The House Offense allows coaches to put players in positions to excel and utilize their strengths and role-playing abilities. If you have a lot of great players on your squad, you can really mix it up in order for them to respond.
Also, always challenge the defense by attacking both sides of the cage. If you bring the ball down the right side, you should also want to be able to get it behind and to the opposite side, as well. This puts the pressure on the defense and forces them to play on both sides of the field. At the same time, it helps you find openings all over the field, hopefully leading to easy goals.
Start with two dodgers at the top and just inside the 12-meter line. They are looking to go hard at the net and dodge. Drive aggressively and find that angle to the cage. A lot of teams will crash and double right away as a dodger goes to the net. If this happens, look to get the ball behind. This behind-the-net player (let’s call them A3) will really want to take off strong and attack the other side of the cage.
All the while, two post players on the inside (A5 and A6) can post up for each other, go with the left hand or the right hand, among many other options. These players can also come off picks and look for the feed inside from teammates behind or down the alley.
If A3 curls around the left side, A4 (the player on the top left side of the offense) can look for the backdoor. Players can also reposition from here as well. A key here is for players to demonstrate patience and poise instead of being hurried, rushed, and forcing passes.
Look to work in triangle formations as well. This way, there is always support on both the right and left sides of the field. Players can also work in triangles together up top and down low.
Begin with a three-on-three formation. Start with two offensive players up top and one behind the cage. The first player will look to drive and force the double team. Eventually, the ball gets behind and then back up top on the opposite side. Now this up-top offensive player looks to drive. If she gets doubled, the ball goes back behind again. And the drill continues like this. Work quickly and make constant movement. Players with possession should always be moving aggressively.
Get four corners of players set up in a one-one-one format. Two offensive players will be behind the goal and two others start out up top. The goal here is to develop one-on-one moves. Start the ball behind the cage and look for the first player to go one-on-one to the cage and get a shot off. Then move to the top and have the next offensive player drive to the net. Keep moving around the horn until all players have taken reps. Look to work on inside moves in tight and get off quality shots.
Finally, this effective box drill is a 4-on-3 drill that works on offensive ball movement and defensive rotations.
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Legendary lacrosse coach Cindy Timchal is a firm believer that the better her team plays defense, the more they will have the ball on offense. Ultimately, they’ll have a better chance at winning the game.
Quite simply, an effective, shutdown defense can produce major dividends for your program. The following drills focus on 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 defensive progressions from a number of areas on the field. With Timchal providing whiteboard descriptions and then on-field instruction, coaches will be able to easily implement these three useful defensive drills with their own team.
A general philosophy for team defense is to have constant pressure on the ball, always be ready to help on the right and left sides, and if beat, ask for help. Remember, players must back each other up and be ready to step up and help. Keep your head on a swivel and be alert as anything can happen.
The goal on defense is to protect the goalie and limit the amount of scoring opportunities by the opposing team. Always be ready when the ball is behind or up top. Meanwhile, and perhaps most importantly, in order to be effective, teammates must communicate well at all times.
In order to be a great team defensively, we must be great individual defenders. Therefore, it’s key to break down the defense into 1 v 1 and 2 v 2 situations and build form there until we ultimately have a solid 7 v 7 defense. Remember, the better a team plays defense, the more they will have the ball on offense – and that often translates to a winning formula.
Let’s start with some simple drills to develop good individual defense. Take your team and have them go 1-on-1 with an offensive player and defensive player starting just outside the 12-meter line. Alternate from the left side to the right side, focusing on the attacker looking to go to cage and the defender trying to stay right with her. In a 1 v 1 situation, we want the defender to force the attacker out and away from the cage at all costs. Also, look to change the starting points of this drill to the GLE and behind the crease.
Now, we’ve got two defenders and two attackers starting out at the 12-meter line and parallel to each other. Unlike our 1-on-1 situation, now we want to force the attacker inside and into the help defense. Therefore, it’s key that defenders communicate effectively in this situation. The goal is to stop the player with the ball and force a pass and not allow them to go to the cage.
Next we’ll focus on defending when the ball is behind the cage. In this situation, we will start out with a 1-on-1 format. So when the attacker looks to go up crease to try and score, our defender will be waiting there at the GLE in a good defensive position as the opponent tries to curl around and get a decent run to the net.
Positioning wise, the defender picks that attacker up and because of the 1-on-1 situation, she must keep the attacker out and away from the cage. Always keep the stick facing toward the midline. It’s key to have containment in order to prevent the curl around and shot attempt.
Now let’s add a second attacker and defender. Our two attackers will begin behind the cage. Our two defenders will start out at the GLE on opposite sides of the net. As the attacker with the ball starts to go toward the cage, the opposite defender will need to make a crease slide. This is when a defender slides parallel to the crease in order to double-team an attacker. Help defense is key here. It’s difficult to stop the 1-on-1 in this set up, so that’s why the double team is important.
The following team defense drills – along with many others – can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Teaching Progressions for Team Defense” featuring Cindy Timchal. Check out our entire defensive library by clicking here.