Transition Offense in Lacrosse: Slow Breaks

Transition offense doesn’t always present itself in the form of a fast break. Sometimes, goals are scored in what is known as a slow break. Slow breaks occur when the defensive players running down the field are able to beat the offensive ones into position and stop the fast-break transition opportunity by the offense. The offensive players can still cash in on the transition chance by moving their feet, moving the ball quickly and preying on defenders who fall asleep for even a second or two. Here’s a closer look at ways to have success on the slow break…

A fast break becomes a slow break when offensive players find themselves even up with the defensive players in a transition situation. Whereas in a fast break the attackmen will set up the “L-break,” a slow break requires what is known as a “Y-break.” The term Y-break is derived from the shape of the formation in which the attackmen set up. The offense will set up with two attackmen on the wings, about 10 yards away from the crease on GLE. The third attackman, preferably the team’s best feeder, goes to the X position.

If the ball carrier crosses midfield into the offensive end in transition and recognizes that there is no fast-break opportunity, he should communicate with his teammates by loudly calling out “Slow break, slow break!” This will notify his attackmen to set up the Y-break. Once the attackmen have set up, the ball carrier should pass the ball to the near-side attackman on the wing. The midfielder who made the pass should either cut through to create space or stay wide enough so that the wing attackman is able to see the passing lanes and is not in danger of a quick double team.

Once the ball has gotten to the near-side wing attackman, he will quickly look to the middle of the field for feeding opportunities to trailing midfielders cutting to the crease. If no feeding opportunity arises, he should move the ball to the waiting X attackman.

Moving the ball quickly to the attackman at X is the key component to executing a slow break. Many coaches or teams use this time as a chance to substitute fresh midfielders on the fly, or just to slow down the pace of the game. The X attackman must be aware of the situation at all times. Defenders will have a tendency to relax a bit when the ball gets to X, as the perceived threat of a goal being scored significantly lessens with the ball behind the cage. This works to the advantage of the attackman, who should have a short window for feeding opportunities to cutters and trailers coming down the field.

A simple motion play should be initiated once the ball gets to X. The adjacent attackman on the wing (opposite side the ball was moved to X from) should cut across the front of the crease, creating space for the X-man to begin his move to the goal. The wing attackman who moved the ball to X should follow his pass and look for a sneak around the crease from X. The X attackman should quickly look to push cage to the open side vacated by the cutting wing attackman. If a lane to the cage is there, he should take it and look for the shot (an inside roll dodge works great in this situation).

The key to the motion play is that the three attackmen are cutting simultaneously in order to confuse defensive slides and create space all at once. Ideally, the drive to the cage will open up feeding chances for an easy goal. With a hard move to the goal, the attackman should draw a slide around GLE either from a defensive midfielder or the defenseman covering the cutting attackman. He can then take a few steps backward while protecting the stick and find an open cutter before the defense has a chance to mark up properly.

If a good feeding or shooting opportunity never presents itself, the ball carrier should be content to control possession and pass the ball back up top to a waiting midfielder. This way, the normal offense can be setup and possession won’t be lost.

Hot Tip: Being Sneaky

A slow break is a great time for midfielders to cut hard to the cage and score easy goals on feeds from the attackmen. Defenders will be scrambling to make sure everyone is covered, so moving your feet at opportune times will lead to wide open scoring chances. Watch for your defender to turn his head to find the ball, and turn on the jets to cut to the cage. Make sure to be on the same page with the ball carrier and always make eye contact to maximize the chances of him finding you with the ball.

5 things to remember on a slow break

  • Communicate LOUDLY when recognizing that it’s a slow break rather than a fast break.
  • Move the ball quickly through X.
  • Take advantage of napping defenders when the ball gets to X.
  • Cut hard and expect a pass to come your way.
  • Value possessions. Don’t force an unnecessary pass or shot and turn the ball over.

The main thing to remember about executing on the slow break is to not force the issue. Turnovers infuriate coaches, and can quickly derail a team’s momentum. Be patient, and opportunities will present themselves in time. Wait for the defense to slip up before trying to cash in on the slow break. Value possession of the ball and be smart, and your team’s offense will reap the rewards of your patience.

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