Split the Field. Not Your Hair

Updated Monday January 9, 2017 by Richard Schwartz.

Split the Field – Not Your Hair


After posting my Coaches Corner article called “Getting High,” I was approached by a coach who was literally pulling his hair out trying to figure out how to apply the “High and Inside” concept when the opposing teams were attacking his defense directly from in front of the goal.  It was a great question.  After all, the High and Inside concept is designed to take a ball that is off to one side of the goal, or even behind the goal line, and keep it there, away from the prime shooting locations on the field.  But in many cases, the opposing team drives straight down the middle from the restraining line.

Strong lacrosse defenses are designed to force the offense to move the ball where the defense wants.  There are several position specific techniques that can be used, of which the High and Inside concept is just the most useful considering game dynamics.  When the ball is directly in front of the goal, say at the restraining line, and the offensive player wants to drive straight down, there is no opportunity for the defender to stay “High and Inside.”  But there are ways the defender can force the ball out of the middle, and then apply the High and Inside” technique.

The first to stand directly in front of the ball carrier.  The ball carrier can’t go through the defender, and by forcing the ball carrier around the defender, the defender can then force the offensive player to go right or left, and hence, out of the middle.  I see this technique taught time and time again and it usually leads to disaster.  That’s because the defender is, just as I mentioned in the High and Inside article, giving the offensive player a choice to go left or right.  Whenever a defender gives an offensive player a choice, he places himself at a disadvantage. 

The proper technique is for the defender to “split the field”.  The defender approaches the offensive player with his feet facing a side line and in a low, athletic posture slightly off center, essentially favoring the side one side of the field…and showing that favorite side to the offensive player..  When his feet are facing one side line, the defender’s back is facing the other sideline.  That defender then imagines that, in the words of Donald Trump, a great beautiful wall exists running up and down the middle of the field, and his back is up against it.  The offensive player will not be allowed to go through the wall.  Essentially, the defender is forcing the offensive player to go in the direction away from the wall, which takes the concept of “choice” out of the offensive player’s tool box.  It doesn’t really matter which side the defender chooses to direct the ball, although forcing an offensive player to his weak hand side is preferred. 

Once the ball moves to the defenders’ chosen side, the defender can then apply the proven High and Inside technique.  For the imaginatively impaired, I have attached a diagram

For Coaches, Splitting the Field can be taught through one on one dodging drills. 

For Parents, identifying what your player is accomplishing on the defensive side of the field simply adds to enjoyment of watching. 


Richard Schwartz


Diagram - Splitting the Field.pdf