How to Play lacrosse: Attack
Are you an attackman in lacrosse and want to learn more about the position? Are you looking to switch to the attack position? If so, you are in the right place. We made a comprehensive guide to how to play the position well. This article is very long, and it’s meant as more of a “resource” that you can come back to, not just an article you read once. Feel free to skip around and read what’s most important for you. If you want a more general explanation of each position, you can check out my position guide.
Outline of Article:
1) The Attackman’s Role
2) Lacrosse-specific Attackman Training
3) Good Players to Watch
4) Attackman-specific Conditioning/Workouts
The Attackman’s Role:
Attackmen are the most offensive-minded players on the field. Most players, especially beginners, believe that the only job of attackmen is to score. If you ask any good coach, they will tell you that the real job of attackmen is to take care of the ball. When a ball is brought down to the offensive side of the field, attackmen need to be able to take great care of the ball and give midfielders and defensemen a rest. There is a significant amount of responsibility that all attackmen have, and therefore you need to be highly skilled to play the position effectively.
- Stick Skills: Attackmen need to have the best stick skills on the team. No questions asked. This means that attackmen should be able to pass and catch better than anyone on the team, and they should be able to pass in catch under pressure with defenders draped all over them. If you cannot pass and catch effectively, you can essentially guarantee yourself a nice spot on the bench.
- Vision: The most underrated part of playing the attack position is vision. The best attackmen in the world are the ones who have the vision to make a pass at any moment. This means that your head has to be up at all times in order to see open players. You’ll often hear attackmen compared to quarterbacks in football, and this comparison is absolutely true. As the attackman, you are the quarterback of the team, dictating who should get the ball.
- Conditioning: Even though you aren’t running up and down the field like a midfielder would do, attackmen should be in great shape. When the ball is on the offensive side of the field, you should constantly be moving. The best conditioning workout hands down is jumprope. Here’s a great jumprope that I use that’s both adjustable and good quality.
- Riding: The “ride” in lacrosse is the time when attackmen play defense when the opponent is clearing the ball. The easiest way to stand out as an attackmen is being relentless when you ride. This means running as hard as you can to try to take the ball away from the opposing team.
- Dodging: Attackmen have defenders with longer lacrosse sticks guarding them. This means that attackmen must be able to protect their stick and dodge effectively. There are several different dodges, but usually all dodges are a variation of these dodges:
- Split Dodge: The split dodge is extremely common in lacrosse. It can be compared to crossover in basketball. We’ll go over how to do a proper split dodge in future articles, but here’s a good video to start:
- Roll Dodge: The roll dodge is similar to the split dodge, but instead of bringing the stick in front of your body, you pivot with your body protecting the stick. Here’s another video:
- Face Dodge: The face dodge usually happens when a defender over commits to one side of the field and you quickly bring the stick to the other side of your body do get past your defender. This is a popular move in box lacrosse.
- Bull Dodge: The name describes the dodge perfectly. This dodge is when an attackmen almost tries to “run over’ their defender. For big, strong players, this move can be nearly impossible to stop.
Scoring: The final element of the attack position is scoring. Attackmen should be able to put the ball in the back of the net effectively. The means being able to move off-ball and cut to open space properly. There many different parts of scoring that we will cover in other articles.
Here are a few drills that every attackmen should incorporate into their training routine.
- Rapid fire: get 20-30 balls and put them about 5 feet away from the goal. Quickly scoop up a ball and shoot it as quickly as possible. Repeat until you run of balls. You should be extremely tired.
- Point and release drill: This is one of my favorites. I like to do this one before games.
- Ladder drills w/ lacrosse stick: find a footwork ladder and do footwork drills with the lacrosse stick in your hand. Keep your eyes up. This is great for your change of direction.
- Turn the corner: This drill is super simple, but one of the most effective lacrosse drills. Put 20 balls to the left and right side of the cage right behind the goal line. Pick up a ball and run up the field and turn around and shoot. Do this with both hands.
Good players to watch:
Great attackmen usually model themselves after other great attackmen. Ask any elite attackman today, they will almost certainly tell you a few guys who they grew up watching. Here is a breakdown of my favorite attackmen to watch that have a decent amount of film on youtube.
- Matt Rambo: Matt Rambo graduated from Maryland as a national champion, player of the year, and attackman of the year. Simply put, he was one of the most dominant attackman in a while, and his ability to turn the corner and his vision separated him from the pack. Good Player to Watch If: You’re a big attackman who likes to bull dodge, you’re left-handed, you want to learn how to pass effectively. Good Videos to Start Watching:
- Steele Stanwick: While in college, Stanwick was an absolute legend. He was almost the “perfect” player, he passed, scored, and lead his team effectively. He was also the hardest worker on the team. Try to watch as much of him as you can. Good Player to Watch If: You’re an attackman who wants to become a complete player. Good Videos to Start Watching:
- Rob Pannell: Rob Pannell is another lacrosse superstar. He was considered to be the best attackman in the world at the World Games a few years ago. Lucky for you, there’s tons of footage on YouTube.Good Player to Watch If: You’re an attackman who wants to become a complete player.Good Videos to Start Watching:
- Ryan Brown: Want to be a lethal outside shooter? Look no further than quite possibly the best college lacrosse shooter ever. He’s kind of the “steph curry” of lacrosse.Good Player to Watch If: You’re an attackman who likes time-and-room shooting.Good Videos to Start Watching:
- Mikey Powell: I would say Mikey Powell might be in the top 3 “lacrosse legends.” I do not know anyone who plays lacrosse who hasn’t heard of him or his brother Casey. He’s one of the guys everyone dreams of being. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of video of him on youtube. Good Player to Watch If: You want to learn from a legend. Good Videos to Start Watching: I would get this DVD. It’s the 2004 lacrosse national championship. Powell scores the game-winning-goal. I’ve probably watched this 100 times.
This list left out tons of amazing players, but I didn’t want to make too long of a list. YouTube is an amazing resource for film! There are thousands of hours of film to watch.
Attackmen Specific Workouts:
The most important thing to remember when doing lacrosse workouts is this: in lacrosse, you should be in two states of movement 1) sprinting 2) stopping. Think about it, when do you just jog on a lacrosse field? Never.
Like I said earlier, jumping rope is the king of conditioning. I made a list of the best 10 lacrosse exercises, and those all apply to attack.
Whatever exercise you choose, try to incorporate high intensity intervals into the workout.
The attack position in lacrosse is absolutely the most fun, (ok…I’m biased) but with such fun there comes great responsibility. Attackmen are the ones who take care of the ball and make sure the offense is running smoothly. Attackmen are the ones who can shoot, pass, and ride at a high level. Use this advice to elevate your game, so you can become the best attackman you can be.
If you would like me to give you personalized, 1 on 1 advice, please feel free to reach out: laxweekly at gmail dot com. (I have to use this format so I do not get spammed). I do consulting over the phone or video call, and I would love to help you/your son perform at the highest level.