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.
In this week’s player development feature, we’ll focus on individual defensive technique, a crucial area that defenders must be proficient at in order to stop the opposition. Duke assistant coach Chris Gabrielli breaks down key defensive concepts like trailing, angles, and footwork before revealing a key defensive drill to help your defenders take that next step.
A complete defender has terrific individual technique on the ball. You must be able to deter an opponent and stop them from accomplishing what they are trying to do, all while playing within your own team system. The better we can defend the ball, the easier it will be for our off-ball teammates and goalie. Focus on being aware on the field, take a great approach, and put yourself in a good spot to be successful.
Trailing is a term used to describe areas where the ball carrier is going that aren’t threatening to us. For instance, if he’s running toward X, this isn’t threatening to us and we have accomplished something. So the goal is to trail our opponent and keep him over there.
Once a ball carrier decides he wants to become a threat and tries to get to an area that we may be vulnerable, we need to take a proper angle to deter him from getting to that spot. If we beat him to that spot, we then want to hold him. This is where it becomes a strength competition between two opponents. If you are in the proper spot and use the proper technique of holding, you should be in good shape.
We also believe there is a certain progression in defending one-on-one. It all begins with your feet. A good defenseman in our sport is similar to a basketball player. He wants to move his feet and get himself in front of that ball carrier. Our advantage is that we can foul and use our hands and stick to push and hold people.
Next, we emphasize the hands. If we get to the spot with our feet, we can put ourselves in a good position where our hands will be there. Now we can apply some pressure and get our hands on the ball carrier and push them around.
Finally, it’s key to use the stick effectively, sometimes a last resort to throw a check or get the stick in there and lift to force a turnover.
Behind the cage, the goal for the ball carrier is to get to 5 & 5, an area five yards off the pipe and five yards off the GLE. If he gets to this area of the field, he’s a threat. The offensive player could inside roll his man and get to the front of the cage easily, he can also step away and shoot, step away and feed, or come up with many other options in this area. Being an aware defender, we don’t want our man getting to that area of the field at all.
So how do we force a player out of this area? It starts with footwork. If the defender can beat his man to his spot with great footwork, he’s thinking of turning him back and not getting to 5 and 5, plus he’s putting himself in a great position to be successful through great footwork. The goal is to turn the defender at a 45-degree point behind the cage. If he doesn’t do that, and say cuts him at the GLE, by the time he stops the goal carrier’s momentum, very often the offensive player will still end up at 5 and 5.
Therefore, we want to beat our man topside by the time he gets to that 45-degree mark behind the net and apply our hands. Play with your feet first, and then with the hands. Do not lunge with the hands. Instead, bring your hands to the correct spot through proper footwork and team speed.
For this drill, get the guys to drop the sticks, grab an 8-lb. med ball, and focus on moving their feet quickly, all while having their hands away from their body to apply hands and push opponents out. Once a ball carrier gets into your chest, you will get pushed back and moved around. Defensively, we want to do the pushing and move people around.
This drill gets players to squat with their hands away from the body and moving the feet. Simply, we set out two cones at the 45-degree marks behind the cage. Defenders one at a time go back and forth between the cones moving their feet quickly and holding out the med balls with proper technique. Pretend you are cutting angles as if going against an offensive player.