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Teach Your Lacrosse Players How to Beat a Zone Defense by Applying Concepts from Basketball

Teach Your Lacrosse Players How to Beat a Zone Defense by Applying Concepts from Basketball

     By applying the same principles used to beat zone defenses in basketball, offenses in lacrosse can benefit and better attack the zone defense. Good basketball coaches, instead of running set plays against a zone defense, should be teaching the players HOW to beat a zone defense. Gap, Distort and Destroy are three very easy to learn concepts. Offenses players should Gap the defenders, forcing 2 defenders to play each offensive player. Quick ball movement and reversing the field of attack will Distort the zone. When a zone loses its shape, it is then ready to be Destroyed with penetration and 2v1 situations.

     A common mistake that inexperienced and poorly coached teams will do is attack the zone too soon. Offenses should never try to penetrate a zone defense before reversing the field and getting the defenders out of place. Yet too often, we see guards looking to dribble penetrate a zone that still has its shape and usually the player gets doubled and “de-possesed”. In other words, the offense is playing right into the strengths of a zone. The same concept should be applied to lacrosse as the attack and middies should not immediately dodge their way through a zone defense that is set. A quick double and strip will lead to a fast break going the other way. Stick fakes, quick passes and reversing the field will open up the dodging lanes for better penetration. Players should look to dodge and get doubled before passing the ball quickly and reversing to the back side for a possible 2v1 situation. This is the Distortion part of the attacking the zone.

     How often does an offense practice against a zone defense? Of course when they are practicing the Man-Up/Man-Down situations, offenses will see zones but with one fewer players. Do coaches spend enough time working on 6v6 or 7v7 zone offenses? The sense is most teams will just run their Man-Up offense against a zone, even if it is an even situation. With more and more teams using a zone defense to throw off the timing and strategy of an offense, especially near the end of a quarter or coming out of a time-out, shouldn’t coaches be spending more practice time on this?

     There’s a reason why so many college coaches look for multi-sport athletes to fill their rosters, especially those athletes who played high school basketball. So many of the same concepts learned and taught in basketball can be applied to lacrosse. The concept of How to Beat a Zone Defense is something that the players with a basketball background will quickly be able to use in lacrosse, saving the coach valuable time.

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