This week’s player development feature focuses on man-down defense and three key drills that can help boost your team’s overall defensive play. Led by Brown University head men’s lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany, the drills featured in this segment will also help coaches evaluate which players have the intelligence and stick skills to knock down crucial passes in 6 v 5 situations. They also simulate game-like situations, make players go at full speed and are easy to implement in practice.
In this drill, a coach will stand about 10 yards in front of the crease and face the cage while one defender stands off to the left side of the cage. There’s also a goalie in net.
The coach will then fire a pass at the net as hard as he can. Meanwhile, as soon as coach winds up for his pass, the defender will sprint in from the left side with his stick in the middle of the passing line to try and catch, tip or knock the ball down. If the ball goes through to the goalie, or if the defender catches it, they will throw back to the coach immediately after. The defender continues on, moves to the right and clears out of the play. Next, another defender steps in and the drill continues on as the coach winds up and fires on net.
The key to this drill is that the defender looks to knock down the pass and disrupt the offensive flow. Also, coaches should be sure to change the direction of the drill and work from the right side. Right-handed defenders will now have to reach across their body with the stick in order to disrupt a pass.
Knock-Down Drill With an Outlet
In this drill, defenders will now use a drop-step and open up to anticipate a pass. The drill begins with the goalie who has possession of the ball. The goalie throws a pass to an outlet player on the left-side wing, about 10-15 yards away. The defender, who started out facing the goalie with the ball, must now open up to the pass and see the outlet and then approach that player as he would in a normal situation with his stick out and backside down.
Next, the outlet player will pass across to the coach, who is standing in front of the cage about 10 yards away (similar to our previous drill). When this pass occurs, the defender will now drop-step and open up towards the ball/coach — never turning his back on ball — and then sprint into the middle region above the crease. The coach then fires the ball at the goalie and it’s the job of the defender to disrupt the pass like the drill before. When the simulation is finished, the next defender immediately jumps in and is ready to carry on with the drill. Be sure to change directions and use the opposite side of the field, too.
4 vs. 2 Drill
In this scenario, A, B, C, and D are the offensive players and are spread out in a box formation in front of the net. There are two defenders (D1 and D2). D1 starts out covering A with the ball and D2 is in the middle of the box.
The A player then throws a pass over to B. At this time, the D2 defender then moves from his off-ball position to on-ball and approaches B. D1 now opens up, drop-steps and sprints into the middle of the box in order to get into the skip lane between B and C.
This drill can continue if B doesn’t force the skip pass to C and decides to pass to D on the side. D1, who was in the middle of the field, now flies out and approaches D with the ball. D2 must now drop-step and get to the middle and anticipate the skip pass. The defenders are essentially always switching here from being on-ball to being off-ball.
Remember, always be aware of that skip pass. Coaches should also encourage offensive players to force the ball a lot, Plus, put plenty of balls behind each offensive player to keep up a fast pace and then rotate personnel in accordingly.
The drills featured in this article can be found in the Championship Productions DVD “Man-Down Defense: A Catalog of Drills” featuring Lars Tiffany. For more defensive-oriented videos featuring Coach Tiffany, click here.