Film Study: Whipsnakes Adjustments to 32-Second Shot Clock

By Adam Lamberti | Aug 11, 2023

It’s no secret that the teams have needed to find new ways to generate offense under the time constraints of a 32-second shot clock.

As the old saying goes - adapt or die.

This is exactly what the Whipsnakes have done in the past few weeks. They’ve started to find success attacking early in the shot clock with some savvy adjustments.

Set Looks and Substitution Patterns

The Whipsnakes have three unique set looks off faceoff wins: Keeping LaSalla onsides, keeping a wing onsides, and substituting a wing immediately. 

When LaSalla wins the draw backwards, his close defenders can become outlets. In this clip, LaSalla stays onsides and finds Brett Kennedy streaking upfield who then hit SSDM Connor Kirst for the goal. Other teams have struggled to advance the ball after winning faceoffs backwards. They’ve forced faceoff specialists to turn the ball upfield. But the Whipsnakes know the ball moves faster than your feet. They keep LaSalla onsides and advance the ball via air rather than via land.

This past week against the Chrome, the Whipsnakes positioned a waiting offensive midfielder all the way towards the offensive end of the box. When LaSalla wins the faceoff and handles it, the closest winger subs off and the offensive midfielder can sprint in and get the ball from LaSalla. 

The Whipsnakes use both ends of the 20-yard substitution box, making it basically impossible for opposing teams to lock off outlets for LaSalla. 

Mike Chanenchuk scored last week on this look.

Another wrinkle the Whipsnakes will use is have an offensive midfielder (usually Brad Smith) on the defensive end for faceoffs. After LaSalla wins, a winger stays onsides as Smith crosses the midfield line and gets the ball from LaSalla as he deals with pressure from a pole.

Similar to having an offensive midfielder sub through the box, this strategy is hard for  defenses to lock off the outlets and allows Brad Smith, who is terrific in unsettled, to attack immediately.

Best case scenario? The defense gets lost like they did last week and Smith gets open for a 2-point opportunity.

Inevitably, teams will scout these looks in preparation to play the Whipsnakes and have an answer. 

While the Whipsnakes certainly have other tactics to use, they also have one thing that no one else in the league has - a Michael Ehrhardt.

Unleashing Michael Ehrhardt

Whereas the ‘set’ plays off of the faceoff can be scouted and planned for, it’s pretty difficult to plan for a Michael Ehrhardt.

The best weapon in the PLL going from defense to offense, the Whipsnakes let Ehrhardt play out the full offensive possession after a faceoff win.

Not only does it save precious attacking time, but Ehrhardt is a legitimate threat in settled offense, highlighted by this goal last week to open up the scoring.

Ehrhardt also is a magician at creating his own offense off of the substitution game.

He has free rein to come and go on the offensive end as he pleases, so he takes advantage of eager offensive midfielders wanting to leave the field by fake subbing off and then wheeling back around for an open look.

This usually happens in the 52-second shot clock, but don’t be surprised to see Ehrhardt and the Whipsnakes mix up whether he stays on or subs off to continue to keep defenses on their toes as they scout what the Whipsnakes do.