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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.
The Tufts men’s lacrosse program is well known for its high-tempo attack and effective transition game. The squad’s proficiency in these areas is a major reason why the Jumbos are regarded as one of the best programs in Div. III lacrosse — particularly after posting a 38-4 record the last two seasons and earning the 2010 national title.
The Bez Drill is just one of many effective transition drills the team uses to prepare for game situations. This continuous practice drill moves at a quick pace and gives players a number of reps in a short period of time. With Tufts head coach Mike Daly leading you through the drill, make sure that you pick up some tips and insights and then see how you can incorporate the drill into your own practice plan.
This drill is named after one of the team’s all-time favorite players, Alexander Bezdek. The Jumbos use it all the time. It’s not only a great competition drill, but it emphasizes everything that we do as a team — stylistically, tempo-wise, philosophy, etc. While it may be somewhat similar to what other teams may run, we throw in a few wrinkles.
The Bez Drill is a constant 3-on-2. Each team will come down on a 3-on-2 break every time. For the team that comes down, the guy that ends the play (whether it be from scoring, turning it over, or whatever) is out of the drill, and the other two guys get back. Immediately, the other teams comes down on those two guys on a 3-on-2 situation.
There’s no time for a momentum mistake, no time to worry about a mistake. Instead, it’s back on defense or offense. No matter what happened previously, we’re focused on taking the next opportunity as it really mimics our style of play. There are a lot of things happening here, good and bad.
Meanwhile, this drill particularly helps with creating runs on offense and stopping runs on the defensive side of the field. It requires proper stick handling and a focus on fundamentals for our defensive personnel, especially because they are handling the ball and running the breaks.
For Tufts, the team is most successful when playing as a unit, sharing the ball, making that extra pass, and not settling for outside shots.
Next, Coach Daly provides the play-by-play as the drill happens. It’s a constant 3-on-2, involves a ton of quick looks, and really develops confidence to shoot off the pass. It also develops confidence in defenders, like knowing when to cut or when to attack on cage. This is all developing here.
Also, it’s an effective drill because we can emphasize many of the little things we do on transition. It’s a very compettive situation. For Tufts, something is always on the line, like pushups, drink break, etc. Like in a game, it always matters.
The previous clips can be seen in Championship Productions’ DVD “Transition Drills for Building an Up-Tempo Offense” with Mike Daly. Check out more videos focusing on transition lacrosse by visiting our lacrosse library.