Transition Offense

Just like defense, it is our philosophy that intermediate players can learn how to play offense through transitional situations. Even in six on six situations, the job of the offensive players is to make it a transitional situation. The ball carrier tries to make a dodge to draw a slide, which turns it into a six on five situation.

If the offense moves the ball quickly, they can turn this to a five on four to a four-on-three to a three-on-two to a two-on-one to a goal. This is lacrosse offense in its most simple form.

3 v 2

Although simple to write on paper, it is extremely difficult and takes great skill to achieve on the field. The most important keys for offensive players in a transition situation are to stay spread, draw a defenseman as a ball carrier, and then dump the ball off quickly. Obviously, this is not possible if players cannot pass and catch. Also, it is important for offensive players to not be too unselfish in transition. When they have a good shot, they should take it.

Run it and Gun it

In a two-on-one situation, the four rules just listed are the only things the two offensive players need to worry about. If they stay spread in passing lanes, draw the defenseman, dump the ball off, and take the shot when they have it, then they should be able to score goals. One thing that offensive players should work on in these situations is having their stick in the correct hand.

At the youth level, many transition situations get screwed up simply because the offensive players refuse to switch from their strong hand. If a player is coming down the right side of the field (from the goalie’s perspective) then he should have the stick in his right hand. If he is on the left side, then the stick should be in his left hand. Transition situations are the times in lacrosse when it is appropriate for offensive players to have their sticks to the inside of the field. If player catches the ball on the left side of the goal with his stick in his right hand, then he is not going to good angle for a shot. Also, with their sticks to the outside, then the two players’ passes are going to be longer than necessary.

In a three-on-two situation, the aforementioned rules apply. The only new rule is that the three offensive players want to come down the field in a V-formation. The two players on the wings want to be about five to seven yards ahead of the middle offensive player. The offensive player in the middle should also be the man who brings the ball up field. As soon as he draws the point defenseman, he dumps the ball off to one of the lower offensive players. This player now has two options. His first option is to take a shot if he has one. His next option is to make a cross crease pass to the other low offensive player. This is the progression that an offensive lacrosse player must learn to make in his head. He must run through his options quickly. He must see if he has a shot and if not, he must draw a defenseman and dump the ball off to an open teammate. Three-on-twos are a great situation for intermediate level players to learn to play offense and make these important decisions.

Transition Offense

Offense: O1 looks to draw D1. If D1 doesn’t commit take ball in and shoot. If D1 commits, O1 looks to pass to either O2 or O3. For argument sake, O1 feeds O3 the ball. O3 now looks to draw D2, if he doesn’t commit then O3 shoots. If D2 commits, O3 passes the ball to O2 for a shot or back to O1 if O2 is covered.

4 v 3

Finally, in four- on- three situations many of the same rules apply. Usually in these situations, the three attackmen are already going to be set up. They are set up in an L-formation in front of the goal. The two base attackmen are about two yards above goal line extended and five to seven yards out to the side from the pipes. The point defenseman is about ten yards above either one of the attackmen. The midfielder bringing the ball down fills in the L-formation to form a square. As the middie brings the ball down, he draws the point defenseman. Once he does this he dumps the ball off to the point attackman or the highest attackman. This attackman now has to go through his options. If he has a good shot, he must take it. If not, he draws a defenseman and dumps it off to one of the lower attackmen.

To decide which of the lower attackmen to throw to, he must read the base defenseman. If that base defenseman is sliding over and is covering the lower attackman who is on the same side as the point attackman, then the point attackman should throw a skip pass to the base attackman on the opposite corner of the box (on the “backside”). If the base defenseman is covering that opposite attackman closer, then the point attackman should throw it down to the attackman who is on the same side of the field as him. Either attackman who gets it from the point attackman should usually have an easy one-on-one shot on the goal.

Important tips for an effective four-on-three fast-break are to move the ball quickly and to always step towards the ball. If the offensive players set up in the right place and always step to the pass thrown to them, then they should always be in a dangerous position to score. Fast-break situations should be easy opportunities for offenses to get goals. They are also great situations for offensive players to learn how to make good decisions about passing the ball or going to the goal.

Youth players make many of the same mistakes when learning transition offense. First, they may not get in to scoring position in time and therefore allow the defense time to recover. Second, they may get in to scoring position in time but not get in a passing lane where the ball carrier can easily make a pass to them. And finally, they may get in a passing lane in a position to score and yet pass up a shooting opportunity. If an offense can make sure they are in position to score, in position to receive the ball and shoot when they have a shot, they will score many goals.


  • Stay spread
  • Create passing lanes
  • Be a threat to score
  • Use the correct hand for the situation
  • If you have a good shot take it. If you don’t, move the ball on
  • Bad Habits: Passing up a shot, holding the ball, dodging a defender, Poor positioning; i.e. behind the goal, using the wrong hand

Some great tips to get you going:

Keep Proper Spacing

Never stand so close together that one defense can cover two offense.


Never try to dodge when men are in position to back up.

Get it Off the Ground

After picking up a loose ball, turn and face the crease immediately. If nobody is open, move in fast until you are picked up.

Move to Meet the Pass

Always move to meet every pass, and circle away from your defenseman.

Possessing the Ball

When in possession of ball, make the defense man play your stick - watch his stick - the position of it will determine the direction of your feed and the type of dodge you might try.

Outside Shooting

On all long shots, a man must be on the crease.

Away From the Defense

In moving the ball around the circle, make all passes sharp, short, and to the outside, away from the defense man.

Be an Outlet

If an attack man is being ridden hard and can't dodge or get away - the nearest man on each side goes to help him.

Time Your Cuts

Time your cuts, don't cut if the man with the ball is not watching or not in position to pass.

Don’t Force it

Never try to force in, with the ball or by a pass, if the defense is drawn in. Pull them out first.

Feed Passes

All feed passes must be thrown crsiply and accurately. If it's a bad pass, do your best and make a great catch to help your buddy out.

Take Quality Shots

Shoot plenty, but only if you feel you have a good shot. Shoot to get hot, shoot to stay hot.

Circle Away From Pressure

Always move to meet every pass, and circle away from your defenseman.

Move the Ball

Don't dodge if there is an open man. Don't hold the ball long unless you are planning a dodge. Keep it moving with quick, short passes.

Pick a Corner

Place all shots, usually for a far corner, and shoot hard. When within five yards of the goal, the shot should be for a top corner.

After the Pass

If you receive a pass after cutting and haven't got a good shot, hold onto the ball.

Ride Hard

When you lose the ball, ride it. The close attack must ride and ride hard until the ball is past midfield.

Teamwork is Key

Always remember that teamwork is the key to a good attack.

Back Each Other Up

Always be in position to back up shots and feeds. When a cut is made, or a shot is taken, the whole attack must play a part, moving to be in a position to backup a pass or a shot. Control the ball!

Never Pass to a Covered Player

Never make a pass to a man who is covered just to get rid of the ball.