Man-Down Defense: One Man Shut-Off

This is a simple play we see teams use quite often to disrupt their opponent's Man-Up Plays. Lock off their best shooter or feeder, and shut down their entire Man-Up Offense!

We first saw this play used against Mark Matthews in the ECAC and NCAA Playoffs when he was at Denver. Since then, we see it in college, high school and summer tournaments all the time. Teams will try this against someone like Pat Spencer or Mac O'Keefe, the Quarterback for everything the Offense is trying to do.

Some teams will opt to "Shut Off" one player. A Shut-Off is a common strategy on Defense to keep the best player on the other team from touching the ball. This is a great way to slow down the other's team's Offense, by making it difficult or impossible for the Super Star to start or finish plays by Dodging, Passing or Shooting. Force other, less dangerous players to score the goals.

The 5-on-4 situation is easier for the Defense to "Rotate!" to cover the ball as it moves than the normal 6-on-5 Man-Up/Man-Down Situation. Shutting off one player makes the 6-on-5 situation a 5-on-4 situation. With fewer players involved in the play, it's easier to know who has On-ball and Off-ball responsibilities. The Defensive Rotations in the One-Man Shut-Off are almost identical to the rotations in the standard  4-Man "Box-and-One [in the Middle]" Man-Down Defense.

Related: If you're going to use this play, make sure you spend plenty of time practicing 5-on-4 game situations, like this 5-on-4 Slow Break "Wheel", and the 5-on-4 Slow Break "Trailer Break".

But! 5-on-4 is also easier for the Offense to read and dissect. Like anything in sports and in life, there are no guarantees. Good teams will be able to adjust to the One-Man Shutoff and still score goals. But if you can take their best player out of the play, and give up a few less Man-Down goals, that might just be enough to change the game!


Figure 1.) Here we have the standard 2-3-1 Man-Up Offense against the standard "Box-and One [in the Middle]" Man-Down Defense. These are two of the most common formations you are likely to see as a Coach at almost any level.

You can use a Shut Off in any formation, as long as your Defenders know how to adjust. A Shut-Off is designed to disrupt standard plays, formations, and strategies, so it can be used at almost any time.

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