A zone ride may seem a little advanced for youth level girls lacrosse, but employing some version of the concept at the youth level can actually help players develop and learn how to play defense in transition. Here is why.
In the early stages of youth lacrosse there is a lot of “stay on your girl” direction from coaches to avoid the obvious – open players – and also three seconds violations. Then, as they get older, they struggle with the concept of leaving their girl in transition to defend the ball. Also, at the youth level, transitions and clears are mostly one player running with the ball. Defensive players (midfielders and attackers that previously had possession) tend to retreat without a purpose while one player tries to keep up with the girl with the ball running coast to coast. The structure of a zone ride can take away some of the randomness of rides and clears since players all have assignments.
So what is a zone ride and how can it be used at the youth level? Actually at the most basic level it is pretty simple and applicable.
Here are some basic concepts:
- Following a save or offensive turnover the former attacking team needs to breakout and defend a zone and anyone in it.
- The on ball players need to double team the ball to slow the transition; and ideally, force a pass under pressure.
- The off ball players secure their zone / players and take away the clearing team’s opportunity to connect any easy adjacent passes and be ready to slide to either help or become the on ball player following a successful pass.
This 4 minute animation explains the zone ride in specific detail.