attack back clear play defense

The “Attack Back” Clear

Clearing can be one of the toughest things to teach younger players. Use this simple play to get one of your Attackmen to come back to your Goalie for an easy, open pass and trigger numbers-advantage situations at the other end of the field!

"Clearing" can be the ultimate test of a team's stick skills, communication, and lacrosse IQ. Just getting the ball away from your own goal is one of the most common challenges that coaches at every level will see. But Clearing doesn't have to be a frustrating scenario to teach players new to the sport. No matter what level you coach, it's critical you teach all your players to understand this common game situation.

From youth to pro lacrosse, the most successful teams are usually the ones that Clear the ball the best--usually over 80 percent of the time. If your team can't Clear well, chances are you are spending most of your games on Defense, and your players aren't getting very many chances to score. It can be a disappointing downward spiral when your players start giving the ball back to the other team every time.

The "Attack Back" Clear might be common knowledge for most of us. It has been a Lax Classic for at least 50 years. But that doesn't mean it's not effective. This is an easy way to draw the Riding Defense one direction, and get one of your men open in another part of the field.


attack back clear play defense

Figure 1.) Here's the Secret: Clearing is a 7-on-6 game! With six (6) Blue Defenders plus the Goalie (6+1=7) against the six (6) Red Attackers in the play, any time your team gets the ball, you have the numbers advantage. This is why college teams usually look so calm when they are Clearing--they know they have an open man. Make sure your team understands how to work this numbers advantage so they can get the ball down the field to score!

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  • Use this play sometimes to mix things up on the Clear. If you try this Clear every time you get the ball, the Defense will most likely start to "Match Feet!" and Ride in more agressive Man-on-Man coverage.
  • Keep Space! Remember to work the 7-on-6 situation first! Don't let your Attackman come back too far and clog up the field for your Midfielders and Defense.
  • Don't go Offsides! Be mindful of the offsides rule. If one of your Attackmen goes over, your midfielder has to stay in the Attacking end of the field in cases of bad passes, turnovers, etc.


No matter what Clears you use, make sure to let us know if you start getting more possessions and more scoring opportunities after working on Clearing with your team!