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Offense: Two-Man Game



The Two-Man game is been gaining popularity in lacrosse in the last two decades. It benefits through its simplicity and its success. Watch any college lacrosse game, and you'll likely see two offenses frequently running the Two-Man game.

There are three guidelines to keep in mind while implementing a Two-Man game offense:
  1. Create space in the dodge setup.
  2. Make the appropriate read in the Two-Man game.
  3. Maintain good backside spacing and off-ball movement.

Setting Up the Two-Man

The offense can set up through any formation that you can create pairs. You're most likely to see the Two-Man created out of 1-4-1, Deuces (2-2-2) and as has become very popular recently, the 3-1-2. We are more used to seeing this offense run through an invert (bring middies behind), but it can really be initiated from anywhere on the field. 

In the Two-Man game, you will have, as you can probably guess, two players isolated. One will be our primary ball carrier and the other will be the picker.

Let's look at a few examples of how the Two-Man can be isolated from different formations:
2-3-1 to 1-4-1

Dueces Stack. 2-Man is also frequently run from behind out of Dueces.

2-Man out of a 3-1-2. Notice #6 gives himself plenty of room to dodge. #4 on the crease gets higher to stretch the crease slide.


In each case, we are going to want to extend the dodger so that they have plenty of space to attack. Opposite the ball, the rest of the offense should be attempting to stretch the field as much as possible. This will extend any second slides and will afford the Two-Man game plenty of room to attack. As you determine who will be initiating the offense, you may want to isolate at least one, if not both short-stick defensive midfielders (SSDMs). You can dodge against two poles, but they will have a lot more length to cover ground and possibly trap the offense in a double.

The Two-Man Read

There are three key reads that the two-man game will need to pick-up: pick-and-roll, slip-pick or a mirror. You will want to consider your defensive match-ups before you launch into your dodge. You may be facing 2 SSDMs, an SSDM and a pole (Big/little), or two poles.

Pick-and-Roll

Best Against: 2 SSDMs or a Big/little 
A pick-and-roll will play out just like it does in basketball. Be sure that the picker is standing completely still at the time of contact. To make the pick effective, the ball-carrier needs to set up his dodge and come hard off of the picker. Even with effective communication, the picker should be able to seal off his man in the switch and have an inside-roll to the goal.

2-Man out of 3-1-2. Dodge against a Big/little.



Running a pick-and-roll against two poles can be dangerous. Two poles can cover a large amount of space with the length that their sticks offer. Assuming all things are equal, we'd like to dodge against a shortie, but it is not a deal breaker to dodge a pole if there is a good match-up.

Slip Pick

Best Against: Any match-up.
A slip pick can be used after the pick-and-roll has been established. In this situation, the offense sets the defense up for a pick. Just before contact is created, the picker slips toward the goal. The defender is left chasing, but will likely be caught in a position where they can neither play the ball-carrier nor the roller.

Mirror

Best Against: Two poles.
Sometimes, you just won't be able to get an SSDM behind the goal. To counter two poles, your best bet is to use the crease as a mirror between the 2-Man game. In this case, we need to draw a slide to be able to make a play at the goal. In a mirror, our 2-man will set-up on the low-crease. As the ball-carrier dodges, the 2-man will float to the opposite side of the goal. As the dodger draws two defensemen, the 2-man should be sure to get to a spot behind the goal-line extended; this will ensure that the goalie cannot pick off the pass.


Off-ball Spacing and Movement

So far, none of our examples have shown a lot of movement from the other 4 offensive players, but they will play a critical role in the success of the 2-man game. Using the same 2-3-1 formation as our previous examples, notice how high the other 4 players are set up. We want to ensure that we extend the 2-slide as far as we can. See the diagram below for the defensive set-up.


In addition to stretching the defense, the offense can add some off-ball movement to freeze the backside slides. This can be done through rotations or through off-ball exchanges. The movement doesn't need to be anything extravagant, just enough to force the defense to keep their head on a swivel and force a pause as the slides should take effect. In an exchange, your four remaining offensive players will pair off and literally just switch places with their partner.

Notice that just as the dodge is initiated, the original 2-slide is pulled out to the edge. This forces the defenseman that starts in the top-right to play catch-up. The offense will likely be able to beat his recovery in a foot-race. Again, the movement doesn't need to be complex, just enough to stretch and freeze the defense.

Conclusion

The Two-Man Game has quickly become a favorite offense at the collegiate level. It allows offenses to isolate their top playmakers and maintain long possessions through patient resets. To be effective in the Two-Man Game, remember:

  1. Get to space in the dodge set-up.
  2. Make the proper two-man read (Pick-and-roll, Slip pick or Mirror).
  3. Maintain good spacing and create off-ball movement.
As always, the diagrams in this post were created using our play designer at LacrosseLab.com. Please go in and check it out; we'd love to hear what you think.

-Eric

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