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The Flat Break

The flat break refers to a specific type of fast break play that occurs when a team gains possession of the ball on defense and quickly transitions to offense. The objective of the flat break is to capitalize on the sudden change of possession and catch the opposing defense off guard, creating a numerical advantage for the attacking team. The best teams in the game take advantage of these opportunities. Watching the transition play of teams like Virginia and Tufts show how important a good flat break can be.

Here’s how the flat break works:


The flat break typically starts with a defensive player, often a goalie or a defenseman, making a save, intercepting a pass, or recovering a loose ball. This player then initiates the transition by quickly advancing the ball upfield.

Ball Movement

After gaining possession, the player initiating the flat break looks for teammates who are already on the offensive side of the field or rapidly advancing toward the offensive zone. The idea is to move the ball as quickly as possible to capitalize on the element of surprise.


As the ball is moved up the field, players should look for open passing lanes to advance the ball even faster. Quick, accurate passes can help maintain momentum and catch the defense out of position.


The goal of the flat break is to create a numerical advantage over the defense. By moving the ball quickly and attacking before the defense can set up, the offense aims to have more offensive players than the defense has defenders.

Timing and IQ

Players involved in the flat break need to make split-second decisions. The player initiating the break must assess the situation, decide when to pass or carry the ball, and determine when to shoot or set up a scoring opportunity.


The ultimate objective of the flat break is to create a high-percentage scoring opportunity. This might involve a quick pass to a teammate in a prime shooting position or a fast break to the goal. Players must be prepared to finish the play by taking accurate shots on goal.

The flat break is one of the many strategies used in lacrosse to exploit transitions and create offensive advantages. It requires quick decision-making, effective communication among teammates, and the ability to read the opposing defense. Timing is crucial! The offensive team needs to strike while the defense is still adjusting from playing defense to playing offense.

As with any lacrosse play, executing the flat break successfully requires practice, teamwork, and understanding of the game’s fundamentals. Coaches often drill players on transition scenarios. This improves their ability to capitalize on fast break opportunities and increase their chances of scoring goals.