A lacrosse team is divided into attackmen, midfielders and defensemen, plus a goalie. Each type of player has their own role within the team, and in the case of attackmen, that's playing on the attack. Some newcomers to the sport mistakenly think that the sole purpose of an attacker in lacrosse is to make shots on goal. That's not quite the whole story - if it was, then all lacrosse attack drills would just be shooting practice.
To learn how to play attack in lacrosse properly, you need to realize that the key purpose in attacking play is to take care of the ball and keep it upfield, as you find the right opportunity to get into the optimum position to score. Lacrosse attack moves which result in a missed or blocked shot every time can do more harm than good as possession is constantly being given back to the opposition.
How do you play attack position in lacrosse?
To be an effective attackman, you need to master every element of the attacking game. There are six key areas in which you need to develop your skills to play effectively in the attack position:
More than in any other position on the field, stick skills are a vital part of an attackman's game. You'll need to be able to scoop, cradle, catch, pass and shoot the ball as naturally as if your lacrosse stick was part of your own body if you want to succeed in outwitting experienced and imposing midfielders and defensemen. There's no easy way to build these skills, except for regular and determined practice.
Vision and planning depend on a constant awareness of your position on the field, and the position of both your teammates and opposing players in relation to you. But in addition, you need to master the art of prediction, developing a sense for what moves a player is likely to make next. You should be continually scanning the field whether on or off the ball, and noticing the patterns of play that emerge in your opponent's game so you can adapt your strategy to counter.
Overall fitness is vital to the attacking game. You should be on the move at all times, constantly seeking the best lacrosse attack position, keeping defenders on the back foot, and opening up space for your teammates. An attacking player who just hangs forward and expects his midfielders to run the yards for him will soon find himself benched.
When the other team are trying to clear the ball, your role switches to that of a forward defenseman, riding your opposing players to prevent them from clearing and try to gain possession. Think of it as protecting your midfielders and defensemen - your aim is to take the ball from the opposing team before they can get past even your forward line. The more efficiently you can win possession in this way, the more pressure you take off your team, which means they have a chance to regain some stamina.
As an attackman, you're facing up to defenders with longer sticks, so dodging is a key part of your game. You need to practice each of the classic dodges until you can complete each one perfectly, to the right or the left, and at speed. Another vital part of lacrosse attack dodges is timing - you need to pick the exact moment to commit to the dodge and catch the defender off guard without giving your planned move away too early.
Of course, you can't win a game without scoring, and as an attackman, it's down to you to put the ball in the net as many times as possible. Shooting drills are a vital part of the attackman's training regime - even when the rest of the team have gone home after a session, a truly dedicated attacker will spend extra time drilling and redrilling their shots, using a lacrosse rebounder to set up complex angles and varied distances.
How can I be more aggressive in lacrosse?
Aggressive play forms an important part of many sports, and in lacrosse, it's a particularly important aspect of attacking play. It's important to remember though, that aggressive does not mean dangerous, or threatening play. It means playing within the rules of the game while having an attitude of urgency, being unafraid to dominate players and positions, and having the drive to push yourself harder than the other team to win balls and win games.
Confidence is key to the ability to play aggressively, and confidence can be built through regular training and workouts. When you know you can cover that fifty-yard dash faster than the opposing player, because you've trained for it a hundred times, you'll feel confident. When you know you can dodge around a defenseman while cradling without dropping the ball because you've spent hours drilling that precise skill out on the training field, you'll feel confident.
So every part of your training, every one of those lacrosse drills for attackmen, every new skill you can develop, including the tips we've given above, feeds into making you a more consistent, confident player, who can play with determination and aggression, and keep it up for the whole game. Keep it up.