The lacrosse attackman is a pivotal position. They are crucial to victory, because of course you can’t win without scoring goals.
But also the attackman’s role extends throughout the entire match – helping out with defending, retrieving the ball from the opposition, keeping possession, and working with the midfielders.
In this article I’m going to set out 7 key tips for lacrosse attackmen which are:
- Be ambidextrous
- Be spatially aware
- Keep moving
- Be versatile
- Learn how to ride
- Work on dodging
- Play with the team
I am also going to look at 5 drills to improve your game, and then the key facts to understand to help you master this position.
Being the attackman is a challenging and multi-faceted role. But with these core tips, drills, and facts, you will have a framework for success.
Lacrosse Attackman – 7 Tips
Lacrosse players who aspire to become attackmen need to be proficient in their stick skills and footwork, and must have endurance, strength, and agility. Here are a few tips for players looking to perfect their offensive gameplay.
1. Be Ambidextrous
Work on shooting, scooping, and passing equally well with both hands.
If the defender spots your dominant hand, he will target your weaker hand and force you to go in the opposite direction where he can attack on an exposed stick.
This is why learning to play with your off-hand is very important for an attackman by dedicating as much practice to their off-hand as they can.
2. Be Spatially Aware
A good attackman is consistently aware of his and his teammate’s position on the field regardless of whether he is in possession of the ball or not.
Always stand away from other attackmen in your team so that one opposing defender cannot cover two attackman.
Analyze the game and try to predict your opponent’s next moves based on their playing patterns and adapt your strategies to counter theirs.
3. Keep Moving
Attackmen must constantly be on the move to draw out their opposing defender and run the yards to consistently open spaces for their teammates. This keeps the defender busy in chasing them so that they aren’t able to pay attention to helping out their fellow teammates.
4. Be Versatile
Attackmen must master a wide range of playing strategies and shooting, passing, and dodging techniques.
Not only will this give the attackman more opportunities to score, but it will also keep the defender guessing what they might bring to the field next.
5. Learn How To Ride
Not only do attackmen need to be proficient in their role as a striker, but they also need to be trained in that of a defender.
When an attackman loses the ball, it’s his job to switch roles to that of a defender to gain back possession by strenuously riding opponents before they can get past the center line.
6. Work On Dodging
Excellent dodging skills are at the crux of a good attacker’s game. Players should train themselves to reduce their reaction times and catch the defenders off guard before they can predict their next move.
An attacker should learn as many dodging techniques as they can until they perfect each one with precision and speed.
I always teach my attackers to be aware of their opponent’s weaknesses and to play to their strengths. The question mark dodge, toe drag, roll dodge, and Z dodge are important dodging techniques that every attacker must know how to practice and use.
7. Play With The Team
Many attackers choose to run with the ball and carry it up the field themselves because it seems easier or because they don’t have good throwing skills.
However, an attacker’s first instinct should be to play as a unit with the other two attackmen and to pass the ball through the air. This may cause teams to not do as well initially until they learn to perfect this skill.
5 Lacrosse Drills for Attackmen
As the only players who can defy the odds to lead their team to victory, the attackmen hold the game in their hands, which is why they need to be the most skilled players on the team.
With so much of the game resting on their shoulders and their team depending on them to lead them to success, attackmen need to diligently practice round-the-clock to develop their game.
With sheer hard work, determination, and continuous training, anyone can become a professional attackman.
Here are five drills that can take your offensive game to the next level.
1. Basic Sweep
This drill is designed to develop young players’ dodging and shooting techniques and is a great warm-up to get attackers in form.
One cone is placed 12 yards from the left pipe of the goal cage and another is placed level with the first and ten yards in the direction of the side-line.
The player sprints to the first cone, dodges, and then sprints to the second cone – shooting the ball at the net as he passes it.
2. Turning the Corner
The objective of this pregame agility drill is to help attackers learn how to counter defenders by making sharp turns and getting themselves in a scoring position.
In this drill, one obstacle is placed outside the crease on one side of the goal. The player starts the drill from behind the net and has to shoot the ball from his stick as soon as he passes the cone.
The drill is repeated in the same way from the other direction by placing the obstacle on the other side of the goal.
3. Dodge and Scoop
Attackmen have to face defenders who have longer sticks, hence dodging plays a crucial role in an attacker’s game.
For this drill, the attacker stands fifteen yards away from a coach – with a defender in the middle between the two with his back to the coach.
This is done so that the defender can’t see the side on which the coach is going to pass.
Once the coach points to the direction in which they are going to pass the ball, the attacker has to sprint towards the defender and dodge him by faking his direction and run to receive the pass from the coach.
4. Perimeter Pass and Shoot
One of the most pivotal techniques to scoring a goal is making swift passes to your fellow attackmen to allow open space to shoot.
For this drill, players are split into two teams of 3 and 4. One team has 3 defenders and 1 goalie while the other has 3 attackers.
The attackers stay on the perimeter and pass the ball between each other trying to generate space to make a quick dodge and a shot. Attackers only have 10 seconds to make the defenders stretch enough for them to get a good shot at the net.
5. Give And Go
Not only does this drill develop players’ shooting and ball-handling skills but also their feeding skills. Two lines of attackers stand at the top of the attack zone with balls only with one line of players.
The player with the ball feeds it to the line without the ball on the opposite side and then sprints to the goal.
The second-line player catches the ball and gives it back to the first player who makes a running catch and a shot at the goal. Both players then return to the back of the other’s line.
Lacrosse Attackman – Facts
Someone who is new to lacrosse might say that the job of an attacker is to solely score goals. But a good coach and anyone with experience in playing lacrosse knows this is not true, although no coach would turn down a goal-scorer!
Yet, If that were to be the case, attackmen would only be practicing shooting drills instead of vigorously training all season. On the contrary, the position of an attackman is one of the most demanding places on the team.
As the most offensive-minded and aggressive players on the field, the job of an attackman extends far beyond just scoring goals. Each team has three attackmen on the field during play who must work with the midfielders to run a successful offense.
Attackmen are in possession of the ball for the majority of the game, and they need to know how to keep it that way. However, this is extremely difficult to accomplish, considering the fact that attackmen have to spend the entirety of the game on the opponent’s side of the field fending off hostile defenders.
Studies suggest that attackmen receive the greatest physical impact in a lacrosse game compared to all the other player positions. (Source) This is not the only reason why an attackman needs to be quick on their feet, strong, and confident on the playing field.
The Dream Playing Position – Attack
Since attackmen are in a unique position to move their team up on the scoreboard, they tend to attract the most attention from the fans. Their extremely important role of striking goals gives them the highest amount of glory on the team.
However, this glory comes at a cost; that this position demands sheer determination and consistency to thrive.
Caswell, S. V. et al. (2019) ‘Game-Related Impacts in High School Boys’ Lacrosse’, Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. doi: 10.1177/2325967119835587.