- Principles/Guidelines/Team Rules/Discipline: Simple fundamental rules that are clear and concise with respect to defensive, transition and offensive strategies; all of which can be effectively drilled during practice. They also must be enforced in order to maintain accountability and to ultimately be effective as a unit (team). When players are playing as individuals, and not abiding to “principles” set-forth by the team, "trust" will be lacking and team success will be compromised. Should a player consistently break rules or guidelines (being “undisciplined”), they should be held accountable in terms of playing time and respect. Champions put teammates before self at all times and egos must be kept in check in creative and overt ways by coaches and teammates alike. There is no “I” in “Team.”
Note: It won't always go exactly as drawn up, the goal is to ATTEMPT to accomplish the basic principles.
- Defensive System/Defensive Set/Set-Defense: A style of settled defense based on rules and principles that must be committed to by all players on the floor/team, in order for the team to be successful. Players must be held accountable to these rules and principles, based on the discretion of the coaches. Defensive systems are usually “man-to-man” or zone in nature, but sometimes are a mixture of both. At the Minor level, coaches should strive to keep opposing teams to around six or seven goals in an effort to be consistently successful. In Junior and Senior lacrosse, under 10 goals against is usually the team goal.
- Transition System/Transition Sets: A transition “system” is a team strategy for subbing (line changing) players on the floor with players on the bench; at all times stemming from either a Standard Breakout or defending against reverse-transition (transition "sets"). Different systems/sets have different rules and principles (styles) that, more or less, promote or inhibit a team’s ability to execute fast-breaks, versus slow-breaking (see Lanes & Spacing).
- Team personnel greatly affects what system should be used by a given team, with coaches choosing a system that they think best suits the strengths and skill-sets of their team, relative to the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. For example, if a team plays extremely well in a Set-Offense and has defensive players that aren’t the most proficient in transition, the Offense-Defense System would likely be best. On the other hand, if a team is very athletic but lacks depth in terms of offensive specialists, a Two-Way System or 4-10-4 might be best suited. The luxury of transition specialists should always be a consideration, as two-way play is great at eliminating reverse transition opportunities for the opponent; also creating fast-break opportunities for ones team.
- As an extreme (versus applying no pressure), teams might even choose to implement a Full-Floor Press (usually depending on whether they have the short change offensively), in an attempt to dictate or adjust the momentum of a particular game. It takes high levels of fitness (physical and mental) to play these sorts of transition-based systems where average shift lengths can double to approximately sixty seconds, versus thirty, which is what is typically promoted. In-season training regiments should also be adjusted according to systems being played more regularly.
- Having said all of that, for a team to have an effective transition system overall, the importance of a good goaltender that can stop shots-on-the-run and pass well, cannot be underestimated.
- Overall, the easy marker of whether a certain transition system is effective or not, is to track transition goals for versus transition goals against.
- Offensive System/Offensive Set/Set-Offense: An “offensive set” is a settled even strength situation, generally involving the five different standard offensive positions on the floor: two crease players down “low” (close to the net), two shooters up “high” in the “corners” of the prime scoring area and one point player at the top centre (either left-handed or right-handed); all on their proper floor sides. Ultimately, every offensive player should be able to execute the “set-offense” from all three positions, although players generally feel most comfortable up high or down low (see offensive specialists).
- An “offensive system” is a set of guidelines/rules for players in these positions to follow, in order to add structure and make things flow. The rules may change as the team develops, with new ideas emerging and old ones being set aside. There should also be options to choose from and freedom to use individual intuitiveness, in an effort to exploit weakness and breakdown the opponent’s style of defensive play. Players must understand that an offensive system will only work against an honest defense. Offensive players need to force the defense to respond to their actions, thereby creating separation for oneself and time & space for teammates. If a team or player is cheating, “adjustments” should be made by the coaches and quality shots should be the result. Players should always have their eye on the ball when running an offensive system, with the golden rule being to pass to any players that are wide open, regardless of how the system or set-play develops.
- One shot on each offensive possession will not be enough. Teams need more opportunities than that and should be tenacious in the pursuit of rebounds and loose balls, in order to get multiple re-sets. The “1-for-1 rule” always applies on offense, and players not directly involved in the play must move quickly to be an outlet, or defend against reverse transition; ready to react to possession gained or lost.
- Note: Consider introducing each offensive system using pylons or other floor markings the first few practices
- Categories: Free / Playbook / Beginner / Systems