- 1 player up top.
- 4 players across the middle.
- 1 player behind the goal.
- Initiate offense with a strong dodge.
- An Aggressive Offense.
- Leads to off-ball openings as the defense reacts.
- Requires favorable first dodge matchup.
- Leaves offense vulnerable to fast breaks if defense gets the ball.
The 1-4-1 is great for driving and for players who can initiate offense with a strong dodge because it creates an isolation from up top or behind and has a large amount of open space.
The 1-4-1 also distracts the defense from the two players on the crease, who can set picks to get open, can screen the goalie on shots from outside, and will be open if the defense is forced to slide to meet the initial dodge from up top or behind.
Considered a "ZoneBuster", the 1-4-1 works well against zone defense as the 2 players on the sides in the perimeter are poised in the weak spots of a standard zone and the 2 men in the middle overload the zone on the crease and can force the defense to sluff in, giving even more time and room to teammates moving in from the sides to look for shots.
The 2 players on the sides can also work with the 2 players on the crease to set picks, and with good timing this can make it very difficult for the defense to know who is supposed to slide to meet that initial dodge.
Again, the 1-4-1 is an ideal set for a lacrosse offense with a strong dodger against a favorable matchup. It can lead to bad situations if the dodger up top is outmatched by a stronger defender because if the dodger loses the ball up top there is no help to stop a fast break.
Also, if the dodger is only able to work to a stalemate, because of the positioning it is relatively easy for the defense to deny the pass. This is true with dodging from up top or behind, and this "reverse-isolation" can lead to bad decisions with the ball, unforced errors, turnovers, and at a minimum more time for the defenseman to work on the dodger and cause trouble.
If the dodger does end up needing help, the open space created by the set means the relief pass can be very long, which only works to the advantage of the defense. Dodgers and teammates need to adjust by running more to make the passes easier, which morphs the look of the set into something else. In itself this is not bad, but in general a true 1-4-1 set is less useful than others for working the ball around.
Finally, if not done correctly the 2 crease players working to screen the goalie from seeing the shot can tend to clog up the middle and the driving lane, making it difficult for dodgers to get to the goal or find a shooting lane.