Lacrosse Question: Now that its varsity, looking to understand more

Submitted by James Burrill Angell on June 20th, 2011 at 5:40 PM

I've been to some Michigan Lacrosse games just because I'm interested in it and I genuinely enjoyed it even though there are still some nuances I'm trying to figure out. If any of you are more informed about the sport I was hoping you could assist.

#1) Can someone please explain to me what exactly the term "Ride" means as in "So&So Team really dominated the ride"

#2) Substitutions:  In field lacrosse subsitutions are on the fly, correct?

 a) Are substitutions unlimited?

 b) Does everyone have to substitute in and out of the one particular area.

 c) Much the way ice hockey has shifts, do lacrosse substitutions happen frequently such that 18 guys play (as I know there are 9 field players and one goalie) like hockey or is it infrequent like in soccer where you get maybe two or three substitutions a game.

#3) When the ball goes out of bounds, there seems to be some different rules. Sometimes it looks like the ball is awarded to whomever is closest, other times it seems to work like every other sport where the ball goes over to the opposite team of the person who threw it out.

#4) I have figured out that Offsides in lacrosse means that you can't have more than 7 players (including your goalie) in your defensive zone and I believe six in your offensive zone.  If teams are traditionally comprised of 3 forwards, 3 midfielders and 3 defensemen, is it at all common that a defender would lead the rush into the offensive zone or do defensive players really stay in their own zone and the front 6 handle everything forward. I guess the hockey term for this would be "offense minded defenders".

Again, sorry to jam the board but this time of year seemed like the least offensive time to do it.



June 20th, 2011 at 5:47 PM ^

Not "OT/LAX" but just "LAX" -- no Michigan sport here is ever "OT."

I remember a debate last year about a recent (and very hot) UM graduate singing a blues song, and there was debate if that was OT.  But whether LAX or Nastix or whatevah, if its UM, it can't be OT?


June 20th, 2011 at 5:53 PM ^

How/when do refs determine if a stall warning should be issued?  Are warnings issued subjectively by the refs or is there a clock that determines when a warning should be issued?

The King In Yellow

June 20th, 2011 at 6:01 PM ^

I am not totally sure if the rules are the same in college but in high school lacrosse, but once the winning team enters the opposing team's zone, they must keep the ball in the "box" during the last two minutes of the game.

I can't really remember if this is exactly right, so someone correct me if I'm wrong.

The King In Yellow

June 20th, 2011 at 5:55 PM ^

-The "ride" generally refers to lacrosse's version of the forecheck in hockey, or the offensive players (like the attackmen and offensive midfielders) attempts to halt the other team's clearance.

-Subs are on the fly and there is no limitation, but generally defensemen and attackmen do not sub out.  Midfielders sub frequently and are often full of specialists (faceoff specialists, long stick middies, short stick defensive middies), that come on and off the field depending on the situation.  (Also, yes, there is a specific area near both teams bench where subs must occur)

- When the ball goes out of bounds on a pass or turnover, the ball goes to the other team.  When it goes out of bounds on a shot, whoever is closest to the ball when it goes out of bounds gets possesion. 

- Generally you don't want your d-poles leading the rush, but people are getting more and more skilled with longpoles (a few kids on my old team had better stick skills than their short stick counterparts) so seeing a d-pole leading the break is becoming more and more common, especially in the college game.


June 20th, 2011 at 6:02 PM ^

The "ride" in lacrosse is analogous to a full-court press in basketball. Of course, since you're using a stick and a tiny ball on a huge field, instead of your hands and a big basketball, it's much easier for an aggressive ride to cause a turnover, therefore it's used a bit more than a full-court press.


June 20th, 2011 at 10:19 PM ^

...that the 10-man ride is used more than a full-court press in Bball - I would say it is used less.  While it was a staple of the Michigan club team, I would guess we won't be seeing much of it from M in the future.  A 10-man ride is much riskier than a full-court press, since in lax it takes the goalie out of the cage.  While in bball the full-court press takes you out of your settles half-court d and increases the odds of a break, the 10 man ride's risk is an uncontested goal.

In most lax games, the 10-man ride is only seen at the end of games, when the team that is down is desperate to get the ball back, and the team that is ahead has to keep the ball in the box.  Yes, there are a few D1 teams that use it more regulary, but it is a rarity in this day of offset heads - it is really hard to get the ball on the ground against really good competition.

Of course, there are other kinds of rides besides the 10-man - riding really refers to simply to the process of contesting a clear.  


June 20th, 2011 at 11:01 PM ^

You will never see a 10 man ride in a lacrosse game. The most you'll see is a 8 man ride, Which includes the attack, middies, and two defensemen pressing the half line. The keep and one D will always stay back to prevent long breaks. One thing I noticed is in close games near the end, a long stick middie will be inserted in order to create turnovers. Having a 10 man press is asking for a full court goal, which is easier than in basketball, and even if you don't score would waste a ton of time.


June 20th, 2011 at 11:33 PM ^

No, that's not true.  Of course, four of the players can't cross midfield, but even so, those that are "back" can still be participating in the ride.  If they're covering someone, certainly that counts.  If you watched the UVA-Bucknell game this past tournament, you saw a 10-man ride, and one in which the two furthest-back players were long-stick defensemen, not the goalie, who was out actively covering a player.  As were the defenders, as a matter of fact.  A 10-man ride isn't uncommon in desperation situations.

Also, you're not suggesting a long-stick midfielder is only present at end-of-game situations, are you?


June 20th, 2011 at 11:51 PM ^

I see your point. I wasn't including the D men covering since they often cover the attack at all times. At least the D on my team are told to shadow as soon as the ball crosses half. In that case 10 man rides occur most of the game.

And no, I play long stick middie in college and I'm in on most face-offs, I sub in a majority of the time when in our defensive zone, and my coach has some play for me offensively (not many). I'm also in alot at the end (if we are down and it's close) of games to create turnovers.


June 21st, 2011 at 9:48 AM ^

A 10-man is used far less freuqently than the full-court press, for sure. However, ther riding tactics (with less pressure, but still enough to force turnovers here and there) are far more common than that.


June 20th, 2011 at 6:03 PM ^

All substitutions have to occur through the box, which is a 10-yard segment of the sideline between the two teams' benches (which are always on the same sideline).

Stall warnings are subjective, it's whenever the officials determine that the offensive team isn't making an effort to score, but rather just hold onto possession.


June 20th, 2011 at 6:29 PM ^

The only thing that I think hasn't been answered adequately yet is this:

#4) I have figured out that Offsides in lacrosse means that you can't have more than 7 players (including your goalie) in your defensive zone and I believe six in your offensive zone. If teams are traditionally comprised of 3 forwards, 3 midfielders and 3 defensemen, is it at all common that a defender would lead the rush into the offensive zone or do defensive players really stay in their own zone and the front 6 handle everything forward. I guess the hockey term for this would be "offense minded defenders".

So I'll give it a go.

There really is no such thing in lacrosse as an offensive-minded defender.  The concept of Paul Coffey doesn't exist.  A long pole (as compared to a short one) is a huge liability in passing, shooting, and generally everything but defending and sometimes picking up a ground ball.  At times a defender will carry the ball out of the zone and into the offensive zone himself, but unless the defense just gives him a free and clear path to the goal, he's looking to get rid of the ball the whole time.  The only reason he would still have the ball is because he doesn't have a good passing option and nobody's forced it out of him yet.  And then once he gets rid of the ball he immediately turns back around and heads for his defensive zone so an offensive player can get over the line.

Occasionally a long-pole will score and that tends to be a pretty big deal.  It's also a colossal breakdown on the part of the defense.  And it never, ever happens except in transition.



June 20th, 2011 at 7:13 PM ^

is what my Lax coach use to say about the long pole... but the long pole is definitely designed for the defensive side when you don't have the ball.   It allows the defensive player to poke-check and slap from a longer distance, thus making it a little bit harder for the offensive players to get an open look.

I would say it is a little harder to shoot with a long pole, but speaking from experience, it is also a lot harder for the goalie to read the shot and see where the ball is headed.  I was the second highest scorer on my highschool lax team from defense.  Loved me some shooting


June 20th, 2011 at 7:14 PM ^

The point of the long stick is that it's really, really tough to defend with a short stick.  Long sticks allow one-on-one defensive techniques that can really slow down an attacker that you just can't do with a short stick.  And it gives you a reach that can disrupt a shot.  If an attacker has room to shoot, often the goalie is helpless against the shot.  If you try to shoot with a long pole breaking up your shooting motion, the goalie will have no problem with it, if you even get it on net.

But yes, it's darn hard to shoot.  The long pole is up to six feet long (and there aren't many that are shorter, at least in college.)  Overhand (high) shots are a staple of attackers and they're literally impossible with a long stick, because the shaft will probably dig into the ground.  The short stick allows you to shoot from most any angle (high, low, middle) and you can whip the head around for velocity.  Impossible with a long stick - you're basically limited to a 3/4 angle, which severely limits where on net you can put it, and you won't get even half the velocity.


June 20th, 2011 at 10:07 PM ^

....the ball can be a little harder for the goalie to follow coming out of the stick with a long pole. 

Teams will also have set plays off of the faceoff that can make use of the fact that the longpole is less of a threat.  Often, after a faceoff violation on the opposing team that forces their faceoff guy to exit the field, the team with the ball will leave the wing player with a pole on the field and send him to the crease.  The D will generally stick the the attack players, which can leave the pole uncovered for a few second on the crease, providing an opportunity for a quick feed inside.  This depends on having a pole with good hands.  


June 20th, 2011 at 7:04 PM ^

Adding onto this, there are defense-oriented short stick midfielders (specialization, ho! Michael Bartomioli from the 2008-10 michigan teams is an exaple), and though they're subbed in to play defense in their own half, they also will play a bit of offense - mostly in fast-break (unsettled) situations.


June 20th, 2011 at 10:11 PM ^

Short stick defensive middies are really important in the clearing game.  If the opposing team has a pretty good ride going, giving the ball to a SSDM can be a safer way to clear.  SSDMs are generally really fast - a necessity when they are defending without the benefit of a pole to provide reach.  With the premium on speed and the ability to play team defense, these guys are not simply middies who don't shoot well - big, fast, offensive middies who really understand the game are often converted to SSDM because of how important the role is.

Hank Scorpio

June 20th, 2011 at 8:00 PM ^

 I played with a Canuck in college who was our pole (d-middie) who could absolutely bring it. We actually subbed him in one of our EMO (extra man offense) sets on a play where the whole defense sluffs in and he'd end up with a 12-14 yarder, just he and the unfortunate goalie.

The funny part is, he had a better stick with a pole than he did as an attackman. He'd never admit to that, but it's true.

You guys will absolutely love the game. I haven't played in awhile, but I played in California about 10 years ago on the D3 level and the explosion of the game is very gratifying for a guy who explained it to literally hundreds of people over the years.

Here in Baltimore, it's been old hat for awhile. But it's a great game and it's really starting to take off nationally. It's about time. You will enjoy it.


June 20th, 2011 at 11:49 PM ^

Yeah, pretty much.  At any given point in a game, you are allowed to have 4 long poles (players with the 6-foot defensive lacrosse stick) on the field at one time.  When you lose possesion of the ball, normally you try to sub off one midfiielder on the fly (like in hockey, for a midfielder with a long pole called at 'Long Stick Middie' or an LSM) in order to get your fourth long pole on the field.  In general, the moment you regain possession of the ball and clear it past the midfield line, you sub out the long pole in order to get an offensive player back on the field.  

Some very talented teams with very talented LSM's may keep their long pole on the field while on offense.  This past year Syracuse, Maryland, and Villanova all had amazing LSM's that gave them this option  The reason is that when you start subbing your defensive players off the field, it give the opposition a chance to take off their offensive middies and put in a more defensive-minded line.  So, you will keep your extra long pole on the field in order to keep their bad offensive middies on the field.  It's a match-up advantage some coaches may try to exploit, just like a football team in a no-huddle offense will remain in a 4 wideout set on a 3rd and 1 running play so the opposing defense  stays in the nickle on a fairly obvious running down.


June 20th, 2011 at 9:27 PM ^

Okay so I'll use team A/B as examples

1. Team A gets the ball in their own defensive zone, and they are looking to clear to a middie to progress into their  (Team A) offensive zone. Team B is going to try and keep Team A from getting the ball to a middie and stopping the progression of the ball. This can be done by Team B's attackmen covering outlets for defenseman/goalie to clear the ball. IF Team A does not get it to their offensive zone in 30 seconds (?) they will get an automatic turnover and Team B gets the ball.


a. Substituions are unlimited and on the fly

b. there is a box where players must run into, for example. Team A turns the ball over, Team B is advanving for a fast break. Team A's offensive middie will run to and through the box, and then one of their long stick middies will get released. Thats an example. But there are two sides to the box, and substituting  on a wrong side can get you a penalty.

c. Yeah sometimes, most teams have Defensive and Offensive middes, who will switch depnding on who had possesion of the ball.

3. It depends. If it is a shot, the ball is awarded to whomever team is closest to ball. If it is anything other than a shot it is an automatic turnover.

4. Sometimes defenseman can rush the opposing zone, into a fast break. But a midfielder would have to stay back inorder for the teams to be even, usually if the defenseman gives a ball up to a forward/other offensive middie he will run back across the line and retake his place while the middie that stayed back can go into the offensive zone. To elaborate a little more, the example I gave happens rarely. They usally just give the ball up

Hope it helps, I love spreading my knowledge of lax.

Hank Scorpio

June 21st, 2011 at 8:37 AM ^

I can't imagine it'll take long, given the badass helmets and facilities. Plus, there's a bit of a club lineage there and a record of success already.

I would have fallen all over myself to have played at Michigan 10 years ago when I went to college. The only thing that might have given me pause would be the freezing ass cold - getting back checked across your neck in 38 degrees really sucks.


June 21st, 2011 at 10:34 AM ^

Michigan, as a club team, could compete with the bottom-rung DI schools in their scrimamges.  They'll get a quick infusion of talent from kids looking to be 4 year starters and build a program.  When those kids are juniors, they should have a competitive team but likely won't have the talent to compete for a national championship.

You should expect a program arch like Penn State or Ohio State.  Both of those teams now, on any given year, could make the tournament and play with just about anyone.  But they're not perennial powers.  Pennsylvania and Ohio both have a much larger HS talent pool to draw from than Michigan (currently).  As lacrosse continues to grow in the Chicago area and in Michigan (already a couple really good teams up there) Michigan could potentially become a contender within the next decade or so.  But it's not going to be fast.

It took Notre Dame a very long time to build a program even with all of the ties to the Catholic schools around the country.  Now we're a perrenial top 10 team and capable of going .500 against ACC teams the last 5 years or so... but when we were starting off there were tremendous growing pains.

Michigan will be good.  It's just a matter of time.  I can't wait for the Big Ten to add lacrosse... that's going to be amazing for the sport.  But just remember DI is much more competitive than the MCLA and you don't currently have the talent you need to play at a high level and it will take a couple years to develop.  For example, one of my roommates at ND transferred from Texas A&M where he was a starter at attack and basically dominated.  He couldn't even make the team at ND.  That's the difference in talent between the two levels.


June 21st, 2011 at 12:26 PM ^

You really know your stuff!  Those timelines for ND are pretty close to accurate.  And I think within 10 years Michigan should be an extremely competitive team... maybe even great depending on how they recruit Canada.

The thing I'm most looking forward to is Michigan vs. Ohio State in the Shoe before OSU's spring football game.  I got to cover a game there for Inside Lacrosse three years ago when Notre Dame beat the piss out of the Buckeyes and the game set a regular season attendance record.  Was an INCREDIBLE atmosphere... and I'm sure Michigan vs. Ohio State would blow it away.


June 21st, 2011 at 1:01 PM ^

Both Ohio State and Penn State have yet to show a full commitment to the game (well, Penn State is now, with the hiring of Tambroni). I think that, more than any location or tradition issue, has been holding them back. Same story with Notre Dame and not fully funding scholarships until the past 10 or so years.

If Michigan shows full commitment to lacrosse (and it sounds like they will, as Brandon has talked about building a lacrosse-only facility ASAP, and Michigan wouldn't have added the sport without fully funding scholarships), I think the road will be a little less rocky. Especially in comparison to Ohio State, which doesn't have the great institutional reputation on the East Coast that Michigan does. 

The question is, to what degree is hiring a club coach (JP) rather than undertaking a national coaching search, a sign that they aren't putting every resource available into the sport? Obviously the reason isn't that they're refusing to put in a full effort (and I happen to believe JP will at least hold his own as a D-1 coach), but to show loyalty to JP. As long as he's the coach that pretty much anybody who's interacted with him - including Hopkins's Dave Pietramala - thinks, Michigan should be fine.

That still doesn't mean it's going to be a quick sprint to the top.