lax lingo on sides responsibility defense clearing play

Lax Lingo: Who Has “On-Sides Responsibility”?

Going Off Sides when you're Clearing can kill big momentum plays and Fast Breaks. Teach your players exactly who the "Middie back!" should be when one of your Defenders carries the ball down the field with today's "Lax Lingo".

It happens almost every game- your team is playing great Defense, your Goalie makes a big save, quick outlet pass to a breaking Defender, he yells "Middie back!", and then...whistle, Off Sides. It can be a huge momentum killer, giving up the ball and going right back on Defense. It can also leave your entire team disorganized and out of position, and the other team gets the ball in the middle of the field. These are some of the most dangerous Quick Restarts.

So who really has "On-Sides Responsibility" when you're Clearing the ball? It's a very common problem for teams with new and inexperienced players, and one you should make sure to spend lots of time practicing, before you expect your team to get it right on game day.


The best teams are the ones that Clear the ball the best, usually 80-90% of the time, or more! You can't win if you can't score, and you can't score if you can't get the ball down the field to your Offense.

Ideally, one of your best two-way Middies will bring the ball over the Midfield line every time, so you never have to worry about going off sides. But it usually doesn't happen that way. Many teams have specific Riding strategies that leave Long Poles alone to bring the ball down the field. So be prepared!


Assigning proper "On-Sides Responsibility" can result in lots of numbers-advantage transition situations! Once your team stops making mistakes, and starts making plays, there are many more scoring opportunities from Clearing than you probably realized. We'll break it down below.

Teaching and communicating your team's specific terminology is so important. Be clear and consistent in the words you use for specific situations. Make sure your players know exactly what to do when you use the terms you practice as a team! The payoffs are huge.


on sides responsibility lacrosse defense clear play

Figure 1.) Here's the situation we've all seen a thousand times. Blue Defender (D1) is carrying the ball down the field, chased by a Red Attackman (A1). His job is to handle 1-on-1 pressure and get the ball over the Midfield Line. Staying On Sides is NOT his responsibility.

But the Midfielders are all over the line already. You can see it coming in slow motion like a car crash. You're going to be Off Sides. So what's the solution?

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