Defense 101: Individual Defense Concepts

All lacrosse players can benefit from a solid understanding of defensive concepts. The following list of defensive skills provides some fundamental information for both new players and experienced.

These skills are applicable to both Defensive (D-men) players and Midfielders (Middies).

If you have questions about these or don't understand some of terminology. Please head over to our lacrosse glossary of terms.

  1. Don't charge at a man with the ball.  Advance on him quickly and aggressively, but under control to make sure he cannot sidestep you and make a move to the goal.
  2. Anticipate passes to your man.  Start moving out to him (under control) so that you are there, pressuring him and on his hands, as soon as he has the ball.  Constant pressure from a defense will force mistakes.
  3. Never take a step into a man while playing him on defense.  The first step you should make when a man comes at you is a drop step, combined with a poke right the man's stick.
  4. Never cross your feet: if the attackman changes directions you will trip.  Instead, break down with your knees bent and your weight on the balls of your feet and shuffle with him.
  5. When you check, make your check short and hard, making your check across the man's forearm and following through with your body. Never raise your stick high to check.
  6. If a man dodges you, keep after him.  The "hot" slide should stop him, and then you can catch up and take the ball away.
  7. When your team's offense loses the ball and the opposing team initiates a clear, make sure to shut your attackman off.  If you leave him open he's an easy outlet for a "cheap" clear, and your attack will have no chance to ride and take back the ball.
  8. If the ball is rolling from towards the midline from the other side of the field, do not allow your man to pick it up.  When the ball gets within 5 yards of you, slap at your man's stick, use your body to get him away from the ball and flip the ball to a team member (anything you can do to prevent him from getting the ball).  Make sure not to hit from behind and not to go offsides.
  9. When the opposing team clears the ball towards your defensive end you must make sure to drop into the hole as quickly as possible to set up the defense and prepare for a possible fast break.
  10. If the ball is out front, and your man is behind the goal, play on the pipe of the cage on the side of the goal your man is on.
  11. If the ball is behind the goal and your man is behind also although without the ball, go behind with him.
  12. If you ever switch, STAY WITH THAT MAN until your team gets the ball or you have to switch again.  Mid-play switches are unnecessarily risky.
  13. If you are after a loose ball, but your attack man is ahead of you, pressure him and lift/poke his back hand.  Anything you can do to jam him up could result in you coming up with the ball.
  14. When your man throws the ball get back in the hole by opening up your body towards the ball, to make sure you don't lose track of it.

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la - crosse

/ləˈkrôs,-ˈkräs/
(noun)
a team game, originally played by North American Indians, in which the ball is thrown, caught, and carried with a long-handled stick having a curved L-shaped or triangular frame at one end with a piece of shallow netting in the angle.