Basically, what we are talking about is chess. I play, you react, then create, then I react, then create, and the cycle continues until someone wins. But, when compared to a lacrosse player, a chess player always needs to play both offense and defense, all the time. In lacrosse, depending on when you are on the field and what position you play, you play a ratio of offense to defense. Attackman and defenders will have the largest ratios, as riding and clearing are relatively short actions, but a midfielder may be closer to even, depending on the subbing and specialized midfielder roles. (Sidebar: new NCAA rules will even out this ratio even more for midfielders.)
What’s the biggest difference between offense and defense? Creation vs. reaction. When a team is in possession of the ball, they have more power to create; I know that people say*name of lacrosse player* can “create” offense, but what they are really talking about is dodging, specifically, but I could make an argument that a backside attackman, one which an opposing team really needs to worry about, could create just as much offense.
I’d like to think about it in the broader sense of the word creation, where everything you do is a creation to react to. Now, there are certainly times when the defense is how more power to create than react; a couple scenarios that come to mind are when a defense has called “black” (or shutting everyone off) and the defender on the ball is controlling the movement of the offender, another would be sliding to double to the point where the offender has little opportunity to react and create.
But, really, at all positions, it is just a big game of interplaying creations and reactions. The better the creation, the better the reaction and new creation required. You’ll find that creating situations for the opposing team to react to is not only effective, but really fun as well; it spurs us, as players, to be more curious and innovative when we are creating the more we do it.
You ultimately win the game when your creations cannot be effectively reacted to; if you’re always creating, you’ll have the opposing team reacting more than creating for themselves.
If you like thinking about lacrosse and its interrelation to fundamental concepts, which we can actually apply to our games for improvement, mentally or physically, then check out: Zen, Lacrosse and the Art of Stringing