Defending a 4-on-3 fast break is always a challenge in the game of lacrosse. How does a team match up against an offense when they have one less player? By following this fundamental method, any squad can learn how to play lacrosse transition defense in a way that stops fast breaks in their tracks.
How to Play Lacrosse: 4-on-3 Transition Defense
1) Shout it Out
Since a fast break can start quickly, it’s important that the first defender who spots it alerts their teammates. Yelling “fast break” gives your teammates the opportunity to recognize the situation and get in their positions.
2) Form a Triangle
Once the opposing midfielder starts breaking toward the cage, it’s the defenders’ cue to scramble into their stated fast break defense position. Instead of the traditional man-to-man, the lacrosse defense forms a triangle zone with these three spots:
- Point Man
- Back Right
- Back Left
The point defenseman should be about 12 yards above the goal line. The other two should be positioned about two yards above the goal line and three feet wide of the posts.
3) Always Communicate
Communication is always a key component of how to play lacrosse the right way. But, it may be more crucial in man-down defense situations. As the ball moves around the horn, communication helps teams shift properly.
Defenders will yell out their positions in the triangle, “rotate” or these other commands:
- A “hold” call tells the defense not to rotate.
- An “even” call informs everyone the defense is back at full strength.
- A “slow break” call tells the defense there is a 6-on-5 or 5-on-4 situation developing.
4) Rotate in Unison
In a fast break situation, a defense addresses the man down disadvantage by constantly rotating as the ball moves around the perimeter. Players rotate in unison to cover as much ground as possible. As one defender tries to split two attackmen, all an offense may need to score a goal is just a second’s hesitation in rotation.
5) Sticks up and in the Lanes
Although defenders should always keep their stick in passing lanes, it is even more important when they are at a man disadvantage. In this situation, a long stick may be used to distract opponents and discourage passes.
6) Force the Offense to Work
One of the goals of a fast break defense is to stall the oncoming offensive onslaught. The more passes attackmen must make, the more time there is for their teammates to get back on defense. Good defenses force passes rather than allow players to shoot. Forcing the offense to work also increases the chances they may make a mistake.