Offensive strategies, formations and tactics are everywhere in the game of lacrosse. At the collegiate and professional level, there is often an offensive coordinator dedicated to designing new plays and changing offensive strategies during the game. Offense types include zone offenses, extra man offenses, and individual or small-group plays that might occur within a settled or unsettled offensive situation. This article will describe the advantages and disadvantages of different offense types.
The zone offense in lacrosse is an offensive formation strategy where attacking players spread themselves out across the offensive area and play within assigned zones. Zone offenses occur during settled play, when the tempo may be slower, allowing attackers to space out in position and scoring chances to develop more deliberately. Examples of zone offenses include:
The 1-2-2 formation in lacrosse is an offensive set with one attackman behind the goal, two attackers across the middle and two offensive players up high towards the center line or restraining line. This set is effective in a man down situation for the offense or in box lacrosse.
The 1-3-2 formation in lacrosse is an offensive set with one attackman behind the goal, three attackmen and/or midfielders in front of the goal and two midfielders up high closest towards the restraining line. The advantages of this formation include numerous players in a position to take a shot on goal and ample spacing for ball movement and passing. The disadvantage to the 1-3-2 formation is that the one attackman behind the goal cannot backup a missed shot if he drives around the crease.
The 1-4-1 formation in lacrosse is an offensive set with one attackman behind the goal, four attackmen and midfielders across the middle in front of goal and one midfielder up high near the restraining line. The advantages of a 1-4-1 formation are space and freedom for the attackmen up high to drive and dodge and effective positioning against a zone defense. The disadvantages of the 1-4-1 formation are the risk of a fast break if the defense gains possession of the ball or a turnover by the one high midfielder.
The 2-1-2 formation in lacrosse is an offensive set with two attackers and/or feeders stationed behind the goal, one attacker across the middle in front of the goal and two attackers up high near the center line. This formation is good at stretching the defense and forcing long slides that leave the middle or crease players open for a quick pass. It can be used in a man down situation for the offense or in box lacrosse.
The 2-2-2 formation in lacrosse is an offensive set with two attackmen behind the goal, two players (usually one midfielder and one attackman) across the middle and two midfielders up high near the restraining line. The advantage of the 2-2-2 formation is that it allows two players to use each other for setting picks and doing give and go plays. In order for the formation to be effective, the two middle players must move continuously to avoid taking up space in front of goal. The outside players must make strong adjacent passes to keep the ball moving, which can be difficult against a quick defense.
The 2-3-1 formation in lacrosse is an offensive set with two attackmen behind the goal, three players (usually two midfielders and one attackman) across the middle and one midfielder up high near the restraining line. This formation is commonly used against man-to-man defenses. The 2-3-1 formation creates scoring opportunities from many positions and sets up one-on-one plays. It is one of the more common offensive formations. With one midfielder positioned high near the restraining line, there is the risk of a fastbreak when the defense causes a turnover or the goaltender clears the ball quickly after a save.
The invert formation in lacrosse is an offensive formation that reverses the typical set up by running plays with midfielders below the goal line extended area and creasemen or attackers set up above goal line extended. This tactic can confuse the defense and create mismatches with short-stick midfielders who are not as skilled at defending near the crease and behind the goal.
A motion offense in lacrosse is an offensive system that uses quick passes between attacking teammates and continuous player movement. It can be a very successful offense when executed well because the defense has to work hard to follow both the ball and players always on the move.
The extra man offense in lacrosse is an offensive formation used when the attacking team has an extra man opportunity or EMO. Teams will practice certain strategies and offensive plays to take advantage of having one more player than the defense. During an extra-man opportunity, there is more urgency to score before the defensive team returns to full strength.
There are examples of offensive plays that can occur as part of a zone offense or during an unsettled offensive situation. These plays usually involve one attacker or two attacking teammates. Here is a list of individual or small-group offensive plays.
The 1-on-1 in lacrosse is a situation when there is one attacking player against one defensive player.
The 1-on-2 in lacrosse is a situation when there is one attacking player against two defensive players.
The cutter play in lacrosse is an offensive play that uses cutting to confuse the defense and open up shooting opportunities. A feeder will typically look to make a well-timed pass to the open cutter for a shot on goal.
A give and go in lacrosse is an offensive play involving two attackers. The ball handler makes a diagonal or lateral pass to a teammate and then immediately cuts past their defender toward the goal to receive a pass back from their teammate.
An isolation play in lacrosse is an offensive strategy that uses the isolation or one-on-one situation to create room for an attacker to drive and shoot. To execute an isolation play, attackers will try to draw their defenders away from the path to goal, leaving the ball handler with space on either side to drive and dodge. This play can be used within a larger zone formation.
The stack in lacrosse is an offensive formation that plays a vertical stack of attackers above the critical scoring area and uses a feeder behind the goal. To start the play, the first player in the stack line will make a cut towards goal, followed by more cuts from their teammates. It is a difficult offensive play to defend.
The triangle formation in lacrosse is an offensive strategy that creates triangles among three attackers to move the ball using passing, cutting and dodging. The 2-3-1 formation is an example of the triangle formation.
An unsettled situation in lacrosse is any situation in the offensive or defensive areas in which the attack or defense is not assembled in a set formation, zone or play. An example of an unsettled offensive situation might be a breakaway or fast break. These circumstances create opportunities for the offense to capitalize if the defenders are not prepared to react.