on sides responsibility 3 3 deep zone ride lacrosse clear play

Zone Busters: “On-Sides Responsibility” vs 3-3 Deep Zone Ride

Here we take a detailed look at how "On-Sides Responsibility" can actually help you beat the troublesome 3-3 Deep Zone Ride that causes many of us so many problems.

We got good Clearing and On-Sides questions from some fellow coaches after our first post on "On-Sides Responsibility", so we wanted to spend some time taking a deep dive on this specific, very important topic.

You can't Win if you can't Clear!

The most successful teams are the ones that Clear the ball from their defensive end of the field the best, usually 80-90%+ of the time. Clearing is an important piece of the game puzzle that translates into possessions for your Offense, and time for your Defense and your Goalie to rest. Give the ball right back to the other team on the Clear, and you go right back on Defense, with neither of those two things.

The 3-3 Deep Zone Ride can be very frustrating to beat. But it doesn't have to be!

We will admit it took us several seasons to really feel comfortable preparing our players for the 3-3 Ride. We had to ask some other coaches, and we got great help from our network. It's one of the plays we write about the most. Because we fought it for so many years.

The 3-3 Deep Zone Ride is like any other Zone Defense. Zones shift side to side to cover players in each zone, and crowd the ball. Zones confuse players as to who their defender is, and they force long, difficult "Over!" passes that can be challenging for younger players.

You've probably seen this play 100 times in NCAA games, and didn't even know it!

Zone Defense is not invincible. The way to beat any Zone Defense, including the 3-3 Deep Zone Ride, is to "Overload a Zone", or have more Attackers in one part of the field than they have Defenders to cover them. Zones also leave the back side open when they shift, "Bump!" or "Rotate!" side-to-side.

Let's take a detailed look at both of these "Zone Busters":


on sides responsibility 3 3 deep zone ride lacrosse clear play

Figure 1.) Here, the Riding team (Red) is in the standard 3-3 Deep Zone Ride formation. Three Attackers (Red A1, A2, A3) across the field between Restraining Line and Midfield Line, usually matching up with Blue D1, G, and D2. Three Midfielders (Red M1, M2, M3) across the field between Midfield and their own Restraining Line in a "Match-Up" Zone, picking up whoever comes across the Midline into their Zone.

Remember: Clearing is a 7-on-6 situation! With the Blue Goalie involved in the Clear, Blue has 7 players vs Red's 6. Someone is always open! Clear with Patience and Confidence.

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Spend time beating the 3-3 Deep Zone Ride in Practice! Practice shifting the ball side-to-side vs No Ride, then just vs the three Attack Zones, then add 1 Riding Midfielder to Bump side-to-side, then two, then vs the full-strength Ride.

Have fun cracking this puzzle! Let us know how it goes.