The Two-Man Game
The pick-and-roll has always been a staple of offensive basketball but recently, the two-man game has found its way onto the lacrosse field. More and more, teams have found that the pick-and-roll in lacrosse can be a dangerous weapon. From off-ball trickery to misdirection, the two-man game has become one of the sport's most effective strategies. At the end of the day, the pick-and-roll puts separation between a ball handler and his defender and that space could be the difference between a goal or a devastating loss. So if you're looking to implement the two-man game into your efforts, take CoachUp's tip with you the next time you're on the field!
Location, Location, Location
Often, people ask where on the field players should attempt to use the pick-and-roll, but in reality, there really is no right answer. Ideally, on-ball screens are used to create space for a teammate so, ultimately, the pick-and-roll is perfect for any situation! Teams have used pick-and-rolls every conceivable angle on the offensive side of the field, but some of the most common are up-top, on the wing, and behind the goal. However, the most effective place to use the two-man game would be from that behind the goal position.
If you're running a two-man offense from behind, the pick-setter should set up around the goal line extended, about five yards wide of the net. This, in most cases, will put the ball handler in a scoring position immediately after running off the pick. Then, the man setting the screen can roll to the goal in one of two ways. If the handler goes extremely wide off the pick, try slipping directly to the crease, looking for a quick pass, rebound, or clean-up opportunity. In most cases, unfortunately, there won’t be room to cut directly to the crease; in this case, the roller should fade back behind the net, ready to catch the pass on the opposite side of the goal.
The two-man game is only effective with a hard, perfectly positioned pick, so they must be smart about where they set it. If you set it too far behind the goal, the defender will have time to recover and close the space before you have a chance to score. Additionally, if you set it too early, defenders will have plenty of time to step around the screen and continue on undeterred.
Of course, your location won't matter if you don't practice the fundamental traits of pick-setting. A poorly-set pick will not only ruin the offensive play, but it can also result in a penalty. If you're setting the screen, make sure you have a firm base, with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, and plant them firmly. Once you've set your feet, don’t move them! Shuffling or resetting your feet will result in a moving pick violation and your opponent will get possession, just like it's done in basketball. Also, make sure to keep your arms still as well, throwing a shoulder or elbow into the defender is another violation you'll want to avoid. Your firm, strong base is important because you'll just be run through if you don't otherwise commit -- go 100% or not at all!
The handler should try to run directly off the pick, trying to rub shoulders with your teammate as you pass by. Typically, the less room between the handler and the picker means the less space the defender have to get through the screen or check your stick. Anticipate the defense -- If you're setting the pick and you feel your man leave to defend the ball, slip immediately and look for a return pass. Your defender will be stuck trying to double team the ball and you’ll have a clear path to the goal.
On the other hand, If you're the man with the ball, keep your head up. Running off a pick with your head down negates the entire purpose of the two-man game. Keep your head up and hit the man rolling to the goal if he’s open. To keep things fresh and unpredictable, try to manipulate the defense. Since screens are already confusing enough for the defense, throw a pump fake or hesitation move in and you’ll have your opponents scrambling. Finally, it may be called the two-man game but that doesn’t mean the other four guys on offense should stand and watch. Off-ball picks can distract everyone on the field, so it’s the perfect time to cut to open space and get an easy goal.
(Related: Read about winning the face-off here.)
At the end of the day, the pick-and-roll can be a lethal key to exploiting the opposing defense. Between creating space and confusing your defenders, the pick-and-roll has benefits in every facet of a successful offense. Of course, forcing the defense to extend out of their comfort zone as much as possible is always positive, so don't stop there. Be creative, be opportunistic, and don’t be afraid of a little contact. A well-run two-man game is a dangerous weapon for any lacrosse team to have, so any aspiring player should spend some time learning how to set a strong pick, but also how to most effectively come off of them same as well.
However, if you're still struggling with some parts of your game or would like a little bit of guidance, consider booking one of our private trainers to help you out. CoachUp's extensive team will give you the confidence to take your skills and utilize them to the best of your ability -- so what are you waiting for?