It remains true across every level of lacrosse that for a team to have lasting success, it must be proficient in the area of man-up offense. During these occasions when a team has a clear upper hand, it’s vital that they take advantage of the opportunity — and doing so often makes the difference between a win and a loss.
UMBC head coach Don Zimmerman is a firm believer in set-oriented man-up offenses over play-oriented ones. In a set-oriented offense, teams are running more of a freelance system. They will simply rely on playing the game, reacting and reading the defense. This philosophy — certainly suited for more experienced teams — gives the game to the players as they can then read the opposition and change sets as needed.
Meanwhile, in a play-oriented system, teams are essentially memorizing plays and having to execute them on the field. Certainly, this often gives a unit a better chance of being on the same page, and after practicing enough, the plays become second nature. However, teams that rely on plays are very scoutable by the opposition, and they may not have the flexibility to change those plays in a game.
With Zimmerman as your guide, take a look at the following extra-man offense drills and see how you can incorporate them at your next practice. With a set-oriented philosophy in mind, these drills are very effective at developing man-up units at every level, plus they also focus on repetition, situational lacrosse and building team chemistry.
Skip It Drill
In this man-up drill, we’re going to take the middle man out of equation and have players skip the ball to a non-adjacent player (in a 1-2-2 formation). We’ll also time the drill to see how many passes the players can make over the course of one minute.
The “Skip It Drill” is helpful because it really gets the players throwing the ball and making good decisions, but make sure that all passes are leading players to an advantageous spot. Throw the ball where you want a player to get it. Remember, a good feed is thrown to the area where you know the recipient of the pass will be the most successful.
Also, be sure that players are always communicating throughout these drills. Players should always be calling the person’s name that the ball is going to be thrown to. This gets the players talking and builds unity and trust amongst one another.
Tip: Be mindful that you should consider giving your top unit a little bit more leeway than perhaps over offensive players. Let the players know that you have confidence in them and that you will let them do certain things you wouldn’t let others normally do. This adds confidence to your unit.
Touch It Drill
Now, our inside player is live in this drill. Players should work the ball around and look to find the middle man inside. The key here is for the inside man to always be moving their feet and always be available. In other words, let the player with the ball know that you are ready for the pass. This is done through body language.
Meanwhile, one’s stick and head should be up and eyes wide open. The inside man needs to be sneaky, but at the same time, he must read the defense and find the open spots. This player must be a presence on the field and needs to be able to finish his/her shots.
Here, we’re going to have one player or coach shoot the ball from the outside. Additionally, we will have a goalie in net with his stick turned backwards. With the backwards stick, the ball will pop out for some rebounds and garbage opportunities.
This drill works with inside players to always stay alert, know where the ball is at all times, and when there’s a shot, they should be turning and getting ready for any kind of rebound. This is a terrific way to condition players to get low, pick up the ball and get rid of it with a wrist shot despite tight quarters.