attack back clear play defense

Short-Stick Sideline Clear

This is a simple but genius variation on a standard Clearing play that every coach should know and every team should be able to use to get the ball down the field away from your own goal into the sticks of your offense.

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.

Clearing can be as simple as one guy running the ball down the field. No matter what level you coach, it's critical you teach all your players how to work this common game situation so your team can get the ball down the field to score!

We got this Clear from one of the top teams in College Lacrosse. Just like the old "Punt Return" Clear, this Sideline Clear is built on good old-fashioned leg work. There isn't a lot of passing involved, which could be good if your team doesn't have very good stick skills yet. Just one easy pass from the Goalie to a Midfielder is all it takes, rather than a series of long passes across the field.

A quick Clear after a bad pass by the other team or a save by the Goalie can result in 4-on-3 Fast Breaks or 5-on-4 Slow Breaks at the other end of the field. More kids are growing up these days playing Box or Indoor Lacrosse also, and they really understand how to turn a quick Clear into a goal-scoring opportunity down at the other end.


short stick sidline clear clearing play

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!

Everybody on Defense should get to space and get open once your team gets the ball. Don't run away with your back to your Goalie!

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  • Spend extra practice time Clearing: Instead of giving the Offense the ball to start your practice games or drills, have the Defense Clear the ball to the midfield line first. Then let your players have the ball to start any drill or play you want to work on. That's the order of things in a game- you can't score until you get the ball.
  • Be Loud- Everyone on Defense needs to communicate which positions they're taking and who the open man is.
  • If all else fails- "Gilman!" We think this play is named for the famed Gilman School (MD). Like a Hail Mary Pass or a full-court shot, throw the ball to the other end of the field and let your Attackmen run to get it. It's better to get rid of the ball than risk a turnover in your defensive end of the field.


Make sure to tell us if you start getting more scoring chances after Clearing the ball with this simple Sideline play!