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Legendary lacrosse coach Cindy Timchal is a firm believer that the better her team plays defense, the more they will have the ball on offense. Ultimately, they’ll have a better chance at winning the game.
Quite simply, an effective, shutdown defense can produce major dividends for your program. The following drills focus on 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 defensive progressions from a number of areas on the field. With Timchal providing whiteboard descriptions and then on-field instruction, coaches will be able to easily implement these three useful defensive drills with their own team.
A general philosophy for team defense is to have constant pressure on the ball, always be ready to help on the right and left sides, and if beat, ask for help. Remember, players must back each other up and be ready to step up and help. Keep your head on a swivel and be alert as anything can happen.
The goal on defense is to protect the goalie and limit the amount of scoring opportunities by the opposing team. Always be ready when the ball is behind or up top. Meanwhile, and perhaps most importantly, in order to be effective, teammates must communicate well at all times.
In order to be a great team defensively, we must be great individual defenders. Therefore, it’s key to break down the defense into 1 v 1 and 2 v 2 situations and build form there until we ultimately have a solid 7 v 7 defense. Remember, the better a team plays defense, the more they will have the ball on offense – and that often translates to a winning formula.
Let’s start with some simple drills to develop good individual defense. Take your team and have them go 1-on-1 with an offensive player and defensive player starting just outside the 12-meter line. Alternate from the left side to the right side, focusing on the attacker looking to go to cage and the defender trying to stay right with her. In a 1 v 1 situation, we want the defender to force the attacker out and away from the cage at all costs. Also, look to change the starting points of this drill to the GLE and behind the crease.
Now, we’ve got two defenders and two attackers starting out at the 12-meter line and parallel to each other. Unlike our 1-on-1 situation, now we want to force the attacker inside and into the help defense. Therefore, it’s key that defenders communicate effectively in this situation. The goal is to stop the player with the ball and force a pass and not allow them to go to the cage.
Next we’ll focus on defending when the ball is behind the cage. In this situation, we will start out with a 1-on-1 format. So when the attacker looks to go up crease to try and score, our defender will be waiting there at the GLE in a good defensive position as the opponent tries to curl around and get a decent run to the net.
Positioning wise, the defender picks that attacker up and because of the 1-on-1 situation, she must keep the attacker out and away from the cage. Always keep the stick facing toward the midline. It’s key to have containment in order to prevent the curl around and shot attempt.
Now let’s add a second attacker and defender. Our two attackers will begin behind the cage. Our two defenders will start out at the GLE on opposite sides of the net. As the attacker with the ball starts to go toward the cage, the opposite defender will need to make a crease slide. This is when a defender slides parallel to the crease in order to double-team an attacker. Help defense is key here. It’s difficult to stop the 1-on-1 in this set up, so that’s why the double team is important.
The following team defense drills – along with many others – can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Teaching Progressions for Team Defense” featuring Cindy Timchal. Check out our entire defensive library by clicking here.