Lacrosse Offenses

Lacrosse is a game of offense against defense. The team with the ball is on offense. Players on offense are called offensive players, attackers or the attack. At even strength, the attack has six players working together on offense, including three attackers and three midfielders. In this tutorial, we will learn more about the lacrosse offense.

Lacrosse Offense

Lacrosse Offense Objectives

When the attack is on offense, they have the following objectives:

  • Maintaining possession
  • Managing the shot clock
  • Running plays and moving the ball around the attack area
  • Shooting and scoring goals

The offense uses passing, catching, driving, cutting and feeding to create scoring opportunities and maintain possession. All players on the offense must work together and communicate to make the offense run smoothly. The head coach and offensive coordinator help design plays and train the attack to run as a unit, rather than six individual players with different objectives.

Lacrosse Offense

Lacrosse Transitions

If the attack scores a goal, the players reset and prepare for a face-off. If the defense wins possession with a goalie save or caused turnover, the attacking players attempt to win the ball back by riding the opposing defenders. A ride is when the attacking players quickly transition on to defense on a clear or turnover to try and pin the defense in their own half and slow down the fast break. At halftime, there is a change of goals. Teams switch the goals that they are defending, and the offense must adjust to moving in the opposite direction.

Rules to Remember

In addition to running plays and keeping possession, there are a few rules that the offense must keep in mind to avoid a technical penalty. These include:

Shot Clock

The shot clock in lacrosse is a clock that tracks how much time the offensive team has remaining to take a shot on goal. In men's field lacrosse, the shot clock is 80 seconds from the time the offensive team gains possession of the ball, and the offensive team must have the ball within their offensive half within the first 20 seconds of the 80-second shot clock. In indoor lacrosse, the shot clock is 30 seconds from the time the offensive team gains possession. There is no shot clock in Women’s lacrosse.


Offsides in lacrosse is a penalty that results from a team having too many players across the restraining line in either their offensive or defensive half. In women's lacrosse, the offense is deemed offside if they have greater than seven players in the offensive or defensive area. In men's field lacrosse, the offense is deemed offside if they have more than six attackers in their offensive half or more than seven defenders in their defensive half. This includes players in the penalty box.


A stall in lacrosse is when the team in possession of the ball uses the time clock to their advantage in order to preserve their lead. During a stall, the offense will often bring the ball behind the cage to force the defensemen to chase and put pressure on the ball handler. Unless the defense pressures out towards the perimeter, the stalling team can simply stand with the ball without being forced to make passes or attempt a shot on goal.

Types of Lacrosse Offenses

There are four main types of offense in lacrosse:

  • Settled Offense
  • Motion Offense
  • Transition Offense
  • Zone Offense

Settled Offense

In settled offense, the attack has possession in their scoring half and the defensive side has had time to set up a zone defense or man to man defense. The pace in a settled situation is slower than a fast break. During settled offense, teams will often run set plays.

Motion Offense

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.

Transition Offense

In transition offense, the offense aims to take advantage of unsettled situations to create a fast break opportunity.

Zone Offense

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. Examples of zone offenses include a 2-2-2 formation or a 2-3-1 zone offense.