Michigan’s Keys to the 10-Man Ride
By Brian Logue
Watch a Michigan men’s lacrosse game and one of the first things you’re most likely to hear someone talking about is the 10-man ride. Michigan coach John Paul had tremendous success with the ride while winning MCLA national championships in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and he’s continued to utilize the tactic since the Wolverines moved to the NCAA ranks.
Michigan is far from the only team that utilizes the 10-man ride. Bucknell is famous for using it, and North Carolina is one of the programs that has been using it more recently. A lot of people thought that Michigan would have to ditch the tactic when it moved from the club to varsity ranks, but Paul says that it can be used in a variety of manners.
“It’s not always the same,” said Paul. “When we first went varsity we weren’t at the same talent level, so we were looking to slow the game down. If we could make someone take 20-25 seconds to clear the ball, that was one of the elements to our whole game plan. Now we’re looking more to be aggressive to create turnovers and transition.”
But is it a strategy that translates to the high school level?
“I tell every high school coach I talk to in the Midwest that they should run it all the time,” said Paul, who has the Wolverines off to a 3-2 start this season heading into Saturday’s showdown at undefeated Brown. “I truly believe that. Players at that level are already struggling to clear the ball, and the game is all about possession.”
Here are four keys from Paul to make the 10-man ride work:
#1 – Buy-in
“You have to have buy-in from everyone in order for it to be successful. If one person isn’t 100 percent dialed in, it can fail, and it can fail dramatically.”
#2 – Repetition
“It’s not as hard to implement as some people think and you become better and better at it the more you do it. When we used to use the 10-man ride all the time, we didn’t do any drill, whether it was 1v1 or 6v6, that didn’t end with us at least getting into the start of the 10-man. The key is getting into it and once you’re in it, you’re in it.”
#3 – Understanding of roles at both ends of the field
“Your attack has to be able and willing to ride, and you have to have a goalie who’s not afraid to come out of the goal. He might give up a cheap goal and he has to be able to move past that.”
#4 – Change in thinking
“One of the things you have to fight a little bit is that on the ride, most players are taught to give ground and to not jump forward. In the 10-man, it’s completely opposite. You need to come forward and be aggressive.”