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The Box and One

The “Box and One” is a specialized man-down defense strategy used in lacrosse to defend against an extra-man offensive unit when the opposing team has a player advantage due to a penalty. This strategy is designed to limit the effectiveness of the offensive players by combining a zone defense with individual marking. It’s a more complex and advanced defensive scheme that requires coordination, communication, and strategic execution.

Here’s how the “Box and One” man-down defense works in lacrosse:


  • Four Defenders: Four defenders form a “box” or a diamond-shaped zone around the goal. This zone focuses on covering the crease area, where most high-percentage shots are taken.
  • Responsibilities: Each defender within the box has specific areas to cover. The top defender watches the area near the top of the restraining box, while the other three defenders are responsible for protecting the crease and nearby passing lanes.

The One:

  • A short stick is often deemed the one in the box and one. They often start off on the crease and have inside responsibility.
  • The defender can be assigned to mark the most potent offensive threat, often the opponent’s best shooter or playmaker. This defender follows the marked player closely, denying them time and space to receive passes and take shots.
  • Face Guarding: The marked player is closely face-guarded, meaning the defender stays between the offensive player and the ball at all times, making it difficult for them to get open.

Rotations and Communication:

  • The defenders within the box must communicate effectively to anticipate passes, rotations, and offensive movement. As the ball is moved around the perimeter, the defenders adjust their positions to deny passing lanes and potential shot opportunities.

Challenges and Considerations:

  • Communication: Effective communication is crucial in the “Box and One” defense to ensure defenders are aware of their assignments, especially when marking a player.
  • Discipline: Defenders need to maintain their positions and not get pulled out of the box. Overcommitting to individual marking can leave other offensive players open.
  • Transitioning: If the penalized team regains possession of the ball, they need to transition to offense quickly and efficiently. Clearing the ball under pressure can be challenging but is essential to relieve defensive pressure.

When to Use the “Box and One” Defense: The “Box and One” defense is generally employed against an opposing player who is a significant offensive threat, such as a top scorer or playmaker. By shutting down this player’s offensive capabilities, the defense aims to disrupt the flow of the opponent’s extra-man offense.

It’s important to note that the “Box and One” is just one of several man-down defense strategies available in lacrosse. Coaches assess the strengths and weaknesses of both their own team and the opponent when deciding which strategy to use in a man-down situation.

As with any defensive strategy, executing the “Box and One” effectively requires practice, teamwork, and an understanding of the game’s dynamics.