Classic Coaches Corner #1
In his last coaching year, the late great Bob Scott shared the riding philosophy of the Blue Jays at the United States Lacrosse Coaches Association clinic in 1974. My father, who was a friend of Coach Scott, attended this clinic and lucky for us, kept his materials.
Photo: Baltimore Sun
I was recently watching video of NCAA championships on Mashpedia from the 70s and it reminded me how much the clearing and riding game has changed. Lacrosse may be better now for TV but I feel like we lost an exciting part of the game nonetheless. Maybe a horn off the end-line was a little much, but it allowed coaches to set up a clear or specific ride - and it was actually my favorite part of the game to coach.
In these videos you can hear the horn and see the teams setting up. It was like running an offensive play. The ball would move to one lane and then a redirect over-pass to opposite lane was often the key. Ten-man rides were common; the goalie covering the closest attackman. When the clearing team carried or passed the ball over the mid line, the crowd cheered!
Of course now everything is on the fly. Teams are easily exposed for lack of depth or worse, organization. Without question, subbing on the fly is something every team must practice almost everyday. Most teams have a dedicated assistant coach that acts as a traffic cop in the box.
I have been studying this aspect of the game by watching Maryland since I live about a mile from Byrd stadium :) In my opinion their "on-the-fly game" is a big reason for their success. That, their coaching and ability to field 3 or 4 world caliber players every year! They always seem to get the right personnel on and off at the optimum time in an efficient manner. It's like a dance from the restraining line to mid line to substitution box.
While the clearing and riding game has changed over the years, I think you will find that most of what has been reproduced below from the original document, still holds true. Enjoy.
- The Ride is a vital part of our team offense. A hard riding team can get the easy, and often back breaking, goals from riding situations. This can be the most demoralizing way of scoring a goal.
- Riding is to the game of lacrosse as Pressure Defenses are to the game of Basketball. Riding is a Team Proposition. Speed is important in the riding game, but intelligence and leg work are the key factors for a successful ride.
- The Unsettled Situation results in the greater part of scoring in a lacrosse game. Breaking up a clear creates the best unsettled situation for the defense to recover and set up.
- A team must be drilled into being ''ride conscious." Individual drills can be set up for the attack, midfielders, defense and goal keeper with stress on preventing the dodge and impeding the pass.
(a) ATTACK - must learn how to ride. One shot effort gives the clearing team an easy out. He must cover the head of the defenseman’s stick when a pass is being made. He must be patient and use a good poke check to keep the defenseman or goalie under pressure
- Anytime a clear is broken up, the man who recovers the ball should look immediately to the "hole area" or "crease area." If no one is open we stress moving the ball in the air. It is much tougher for the Defense to adjust, if the ball is changing positions. This is a matter of opinion as the Fast Break is in Basketball.
- During a week's preparation for a game we will spend as much time on Riding as on any other phase of our game. Games have been WON and LOST because:
- This is initiated on a save by the goalie or the recovery of a loose ball by the defense.
- Midfielders - first responsibility is to stick with their men and not allow the goalie to throw the ball to a middie for the quick out, which can resulting a fast break.
- Defense - should maintain up-field position so attackman cannot be in a position to break up for an easy outlet pass or if ball is thrown long the defense will be in a good position to get it back to the offense.
- Crease Attackman - His first job is to play the goalie and keep him from making the up-field pass to a breaking middie or running the ball out himself. He must keep pressure on him once he drives him out of the crease area in order to make the goalie throw a bad pass or make a bad choice. After the goalie passes off, the crease attackman should start to hustle up-field but be ready to pounce back on him if he gets a return pass.
- Wing Attackmen - must move out with their close defensemen and not allow the easy pass to reach them. If this happens it creates the quick 2 on 1 on the middie and an easy clear.
- With the first pass, the offside attackman hustle up-field to enter into the slide of the midfielders.
- With the goalie's save, the 3 midfielders stay with their men to prevent the fast break. When the goalie goes behind the goal, the middies can definitely play inside their men and to the ball side. As the goalie makes his first pass to a defenseman, the middies should be anticipating the slide.
- The center middie directs the slide, sending the nearest middie to the breaking defenseman with the call, "Get ready to slide, go ahead." The midfield will normally slide with the second or third clearing pass, but must never slide if the attack has not delayed the clear and it gets out fast. A slide in this circumstance would just create a pass to an open middie and then a fast break.
- Any middie can leave his man to slide to the ball, without a verbal release from the center middie, if he is certain of jumping the man and getting the ball before or as it is caught
JUMP RIDE OFF SAVE
- This takes practice by your attackman and can be very effective.
- Crease attackman has same responsibility as before only he will chase goalie as he elects to go behind.
- Attackman to side goalie starts back plays defenseman so no outlet pass can be made.
- Other attackman plays defenseman until he sees goalie turn back, then he leaves to jump the goal keeper.
- If pass is made we scramble.
TIGHT OR PRESS RIDE
- The tight or press ride can pressurize a close defense unit, and in particular a weak clearing goalie, who has difficulty in finding and throwing fairly far up-field to an open midfielder. The tight ride is like a press in basketball. The surprise element can be just as effective as trying to take advantage of weak personnel.
- The press ride can be used from either the in-bounds situation when the goalie makes a save or the out of bounds situation from the back line up to the restraining line.
- The 3 attackmen jump on the goalie and the 2 behind defensemen as soon as the defense gains possession of the ball.
- The 3 middies stay with their middies until the goalie is turned to the rear of the goal to prevent the quick fast break pass. However, as soon as the goalie is turned back, one of the middies leaves his man and slides into a position to pick up the crease defenseman, with the other 2 middies splitting their 3 midfield opponents, favoring the ball side.