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The Need For Speed: Why Fast Teams Can Dominate Lacrosse

Why is team speed so important for lacrosse?

In the most simple terms, fast teams can dominate the game.

As a coach and spectator, I’ve seen it.

I’ve seen the “fast team” dominate on the field.

You and I know how important it is to be fast, but when the entire team is fast, it’s an entirely different level of playing lacrosse.

There’s a simple saying, “slow feet, don’t eat.”

So true when it comes to lacrosse.

Having a fast team is crucial in lacrosse for several reasons, as it directly impacts many aspects of gameplay and overall team performance.

Here’s some examples.

Transition Offense and Defense:

Lacrosse is such a fast-paced sport with rapid transitions between offense and defense. Team speed allows players to quickly transition from defense to offense or vice versa, maximizing fast breaks and creating scoring opportunities before the opposing defense can even set up.

The Fast Break Opportunity:

As I just mentioned, speedy players can exploit openings in the opposing defense and capitalize on those fast break opportunities. Quick transition plays, where players rapidly move the ball up the field, catch the defense off guard, and create scoring chances, are more effective with a fast and dynamic team. As coaches, we preach playing fast, fast, fast.

Clears and Rides:

Can’t emphasize this enough. Clears and rides, clears and rides, clears and rides. In lacrosse, teams must successfully clear the ball from their defensive zone to the offensive zone and prevent the opposing team from doing the same (riding). I teach to never give up on a ride. Never. You never know when you may catch an opportunity by not surrendering on the ride. And team speed is crucial for executing those clears efficiently, outrunning opponents, and applying pressure on the opposing team’s clear attempts.

Ground Ball Dominance:

This is a big one. Ground balls are contested possessions that often determine possession changes and momentum shifts in lacrosse games. Winning ground balls can be the difference between winning and losing, it’s that important. Speedy players have the advantage in ground ball battles, as they can quickly close the gaps, scoop up loose balls, and transition the ball from defense to offense. And on the draw circle, ground balls have to be won to be in the game. This is not only speed though, recovering ground balls requires a lot of grittiness (something you may not be able to actually teach).

Suffocating Defense:

Speedy defenders can recover quickly and apply pressure to opposing attackers which can totally disrupt offensive plays and force turnovers. Defensive speed allows players to close out on shooters, break up passes, and provide support to their teammates in defensive rotations. The faster the defense, the harder they make it for the offense to be a threat. Speedy and well-conditioned defenders can be overwhelming for offenses to handle.

Dodging and Evasion:

I could teach dodging techniques and methods all day long. Literally, it’s that important. Offensively, speed enables players to dodge past defenders, evade checks, and create scoring opportunities. Quick footwork and acceleration make it more challenging for defenders to stay with offensive players, opening up space for the shots and passes.

Man-Up / Man-Down Situations:

Team speed is advantageous for both man-up (extra player advantage) and man-down (short-handed) situations. Offensively, speed can create mismatches and exploit defensive gaps, while defensively, speed helps cover ground and disrupt the passing lanes.

As you can see, team speed matters a lot.

And the fast teams truly stand out. 


Team speed in lacrosse contributes to an extremely dynamic and high-energy style of play, allowing teams to execute fast-paced offensive schemes, apply pressure on defense, and capitalize on transition opportunities. 

It’s easy to understand why coaches prioritize developing speedy players who can thrive in the fast-paced nature of the sport and contribute to the team’s overall success.

Indeed, team speed is a big deal.


Want to get faster?

7 Ways To Get Faster

Coach Scott

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