Former Johns Hopkins head coach and current UMBC coach Don Zimmerman has long been considered a mastermind of the extra man offense. With Zimmerman as your guide, learn how to prepare your team for special situations within a man up offense. First, Coach Zimmerman explains each situation via whiteboard diagrams before taking his team to the field for a live run-through.
According to Coach Zimmerman, it often feels like there’s more pressure on a unit when they are two men up versus just one man up. Players feel that they have to score and that there is no way that they will be denied with the huge advantage. However, Zimmerman doesn’t take that approach. He will force his teams to stay within their sets and move the ball like they normally do in man-up.
If a player is shut off, it’s key to take him out of the equation altogether. You should be satisfied going 5-on-4 versus getting him involved in that play.
Key: Stay consistent in your approach. This is far more effective than trying to make all kinds of adjustments if the defense does different things to try and throw you off.
This happens when there’s a one-minute penalty on the other team and you have an opportunity to get the ball right back and face it off. Because the other team is a man down, they will have to bring one of their attackers up on a wing. Now, we have an extra man. If the other team gets the ball, we designate our open man as the Double Man.
Here’s what happens: On a release call, all of our other players will shut off and we will funnel the ball into an area where our double man and the ball man can go ahead and double the ball. Coach Zimmerman has seen a lot of instances where the double is split and suddenly the other team scores a goal because the team wasn’t proficient at doubling the ball. It should be organized and practiced. That goal can be a huge momentum changer in a game.
Key: Take the time during practice to work on doubling the ball. Both players must be patient and work together to squeeze the man simultaneously. Remember, practice what you are going to use in the game.
This occurs when you have a turnover and the other team gets the ball. They will try to clear out a certain area in which to run it out. However, we will try to prevent that by putting two attack players on the ball in an effort to give it up. We must have two middies up field, one in front of the cage, and one attackman on the opposite wing of the ball. Now, we have options, like a three-way bump.
The goal here is to get the ball out of the opposing midfielder’s hands. We don’t want this player to run the ball up the field. Instead, we want to force them into a cross-field pass. While the ball is in flight, we can then make the proper adjustments.
Don’t forget there could be a long pass by the defense all the way up the field to take time off the clock. Therefore, our defenders must be topside of their attackmen. If there’s a ground ball, they can beat the attackmen to the ball. However, if the ball is thrown into the air, we teach our defenders not to play the ball, but to play the man. If the ball gets to within five yards, our goalie will yell CHECK and now our defenders will play the attackman’s arms. You don’t want a shifty attacker to check the defenseman. Then they will have the advantage going the other way.
A team equipped with a dynamic extra man offense will have a considerable advantage on its opponent. Meanwhile, former Johns Hopkins head coach and current UMBC coach Don Zimmerman has long been considered a mastermind of the extra man offense. With Zimmerman as your guide, learn three different effective man-up formations that can give your team different looks and a number of opportunities to be successful. Each formation is unique, so be sure to see what works for you and your personnel before implementing on the lacrosse field.
Remember, each formation will yield different opportunities, so watch as Zimmerman diagrams each set before detailing key roles, movements and options for each player. Also, watch each set live in action through team simulations.
The main advantage of the 3-3 Formation is that all six of your players are in front of the goal. Each player is above the goal line extended and has the ability to shoot the ball. Ultimately, this puts a lot of pressure on the defense.
The key players here are the middle-man up top and the inside middle-man. The top middle-man should be your best all-around player. This player can shoot, feed and make good decisions. Meanwhile, your inside player must be excellent off the ball, can read the defense, knows how to get open, and can also finish with a goal at a high clip.
Keep in mind, there’s a difference between a shooter and a finisher. When a finisher receives the ball inside, you can count on a goal being scored. These players aren’t born, but these are normally the kids who take great pride in working inside. It’s a tough position because you draw a lot of checks and physical play. But if you work hard and focus on your shooting, you will have a lot of opportunities to score high percentage goals. And that’s the goal: trying to get the highest percentage shot that we possibly can.
Within the 3-3 formation, in past years, Zimmerman’s teams have used a right-hander on the right side if they are the best option for that position. This brings up the point of using your strengths. Zimmerman is a firm believe that a player should always work to use his strengths whenever he can. In this situation (where a lefty may be better suited to play on the right side), we have no problem using a right-handed player. Remember, don’t switch your stick over to the weaker hand to avoid pressure. Instead, adjust your body to give you room and some cushion in order to stay effective. That may be more difficult down closer to the goal, but you can still certainly get the job done from here.
In the 2-3-1 formation, the defense must turn its back to find the ball. If you have good work by your outside shooters to find the open lanes, you will certainly get some quality shots out of this set.
On the perimeter, it’s key to have excellent shooters. Meanwhile, the man behind the goal is considered the “QB” of the offense. Also, it’s important to have an above-average inside man, a player who is a terrific finisher.
In the 1-4-1 formation, you really want a strong shooter out in front. Like with the 2-3-1, the “QB” is behind the goal. Now, you have two players inside that are adept at getting open. All the while, the right and left wings can position themselves to get open or step up and take the open shot and finish.
Overall, as a coach, you need to decide what your team strengths are and then cater your sets based on personnel. For instance, if you have two really good outside shooters, then you probably want to go with the 2-3-1 set. If you have two strong inside players, then the 1-4-1 might be your best bet as you are equipped with a pair of skilled players in the most dangerous area of the field to score goals.