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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.
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.
Back in April, former Maryland head coach Dave Cottle took you through the 1-4-1 Zone Offense. In this week’s Chalk Talk feature, we’ll focus on the 2-3-1 Offense, an effective system that presents a number of problems for defenses and opens up a lot of possibilities for the offense. Follow along as Coach Cottle breaks down alignments, options, player roles, and demonstrates how to change formations.
In the 2-3-1, two players will be up top, three wil be out in front of the goal, and one player will be behind the net. In this dodge-oritend offense, the first question we must ask ourselves is, “How will the defense slide to an out top dodge?” Well, if the defense is coming adjacent to an out top dodge, they might have three defenders up top versus our two players up top. That’s a win situation for us. So the key here is to try and dodge inside out and draw the adjacent slide.
Once we draw that slide, we will move the ball, whether it be one or two passes. Then, we are immediately attacking. Now there are two defenders on the left side of the field occupied by just one of our offensive players. Where the defense makes its next slide will determine who will be open on the backside.
When the ball gets moved from 6 to 2 and to 1, and the far side close defender crashes nearside, the far side top defenders might crash down low. We can now have the option for a skip to 5, or a pass to 4 down low. The basic spacing between players in this offense is very important to us. As a coach, it’s also vital to find out what the right relationship between players is.
**Key: Out of the 2-3-1, we will look to dodge from the wing or behind or out top. Essentially, we want to dodge, draw two defenders, and then attack.
There are a lot of options we can do within this offensive set: Roll off, pop off, carry, or follow to the outside.. For instance, we can roll off or pop off into a different formation (like to a 3-3), or even roll off or pop off into a 1-4. For more on these plays, read our feature from earlier this year breaking down the 1-4-1 offense.
In terms of a follow, this is when you throw the ball from out top to a wing and the player who made the pass will follow for a shot. It’s quite ideal for a great outside shooter, however, it’s not ideal for a player that doesn’t have an accurate outside shot as it disrupts your offense and allows the defense to pack it in tighter.
On a skip pass, it’s either a shot or down. Remember, never skip to a player who can’t shoot. This is why it’s key to get to know your players and what their strengths are.
Meanwhile, the 2-3-1 is a dodge-oriented offense. Therefore, we adjust our positioning as the ball is adjusted. Plus, if you are dangerous inside, it makes the defense collapse down, and this opens up chances on the outside.
**Ideal Scenario for the 2-3-1 Offense: 1 is a great feeder. 2 and 4 are great shooters. 5 and 6 are great dodgers. 3 is a great inside player.
We will start in a 1-4 and then change formations to a 2-3-1 and play on. Notice the following maneuver here as the crease pops off, leading into to a 2-3. In the 2-3 Freelance, we will start with a dodge out of this formation with 5 and come down the alley. He will then pass to 4, and on to 1, and back around to the other side. The important thing here is the spacing between the wings and the players up top.
The clips seen in this week’s Chalk Talk feature can be found on Championship Productions’ DVD “1-4-1 and 2-3-1 Adjustable Zone Offense.” To check out our entire offensive lacrosse catalog, click here.