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The Five Man

The “Five-Man” man-down defense is a defensive strategy used to defend against an extra-man offensive unit during a penalty situation. This defense is designed to create pressure on the ball while maintaining fluid rotations to cover passing lanes and potential shooting areas. It involves continuous movement and communication among defenders to disrupt the opposing team’s offensive set and prevent high-percentage scoring opportunities.

Here’s how the “Five-Man Rotating” man-down defense works in lacrosse:

1. Defensive Formation:

  • Five Defenders: As the name suggests, the defense uses five players in this formation, excluding the goalie. The five players form a rotating zone around the goal.

2. Ball Pressure and Rotation:

  • Pressure on the Ball: The defender nearest to the ball carrier applies pressure to limit their options and create turnovers.
  • Rotation: As the ball is moved around the perimeter by the offensive team, the defenders rotate in unison to maintain coverage and prevent open passing lanes.

3. Fluid Movement:

  • The defenders continuously shift positions based on the movement of the ball and the offensive players.
  • Each defender communicates with teammates to ensure proper coverage and anticipate passes.

4. Denying Scoring Opportunities:

  • The primary goal of the “Five-Man” defense is to deny high-percentage scoring opportunities. Defenders focus on forcing outside shots or challenging shots from difficult angles.
  • Defenders close out on shooters to disrupt their shooting rhythm and limit their ability to pick a corner of the goal.

5. Zone Principles:

  • The rotating defense incorporates zone principles, where each defender covers an area rather than an individual offensive player.
  • Passing lanes and potential shooting lanes are clogged, making it challenging for the offensive team to execute their plays effectively.

6. Clearing:

  • If the man-down team gains possession of the ball, they need to clear the ball out of their defensive zone and transition to offense.
  • Clearing under pressure requires effective passing, movement, and communication among the defenders.
  • Often you will see the short stick defender roll out to the alley opposite the substitution box. Teams will often use this as a punt return clear.

Challenges and Considerations:

  • Communication: Effective communication is crucial to ensure smooth rotations and coverage. Defenders must constantly update each other on the ball’s movement and their own positioning.
  • Discipline: Defenders need to remain disciplined in their rotations and avoid overcommitting to the ball, which could create openings in the defense.
  • Timing: Proper timing of rotations is essential to prevent open shots and passes. Mistimed rotations can leave shooters unguarded.

When to Use the “Five-Man” Defense: The “Five-Man” defense is a versatile strategy that can be used. It’s particularly effective against opponents who rely heavily on ball movement and quick passing to create scoring opportunities. It is also an effective system for teams that rely heavily on zone defense.

Ultimately, the choice of defensive strategy depends on the strengths and weaknesses of both your team and the opponent, as well as the specific game situation. The “Five-Man” defense requires practice, coordination, and the ability to read the game effectively to make timely rotations and disrupt the opposing offense.