Key Terms, Slides and Strategies for Building a Strong Defense

As a former two-time captain and starter on defense under Dom Starsia, current Brown head coach Lars Tiffany has a fundamental understanding of what it takes to be proficient on defense as a team.

Learn from one of the game’s sharpest minds as Tiffany highlights some key defensive terms, strategies, and goals. Also, Tiffany runs through some basic slide schemes on the whiteboard before taking to the field for some live simulations.

Team Defense and Communication

It’s vital that six defenders and the goalie communicate to each other while playing together in order to be successful and stop the opponent.

The goalie’s focus should always be on-ball. We want the goalie watching the ball and dodgers and talking to the on-ball defender (with terms like step left, step out, step in, etc.). It’s up to the defense when it comes to slides.

Next, we need the defense to say, “Who is the first slide?” At Brown, the terminology is “hot” or “hotman.” This person can also ask questions to build trust in the defense. For instance, things like, “I’m hot,” or “who’s my fill”, or “who’s my second slide?” Fill means to fill into the crease and take care of the crease and the insides first and foremost.

The hot player identifies the fill player. Those extra words really make a difference. Meanwhile, the third slide is “the three” or “crash” into the crease. There’s not always a third slide and getting there isn’t easy.

Okay, so the hot man is identified and has his fill, but when he slides, what does he say? At Brown, the saying is “go.” This player sends himself. If he doesn’t slide, he yells “stop” and he stops the slide scheme. Now you must get back to your man.

The final term is used in our recovery. Once we have slid, the man who has been slid for (the original on-ball man) – when he is flying into the hole – well, we need to talk to him and tell him where to go. In Brown’s schemes, they look to the crease first and find the open man. When looking for the open man, the defense can tell him where to go. If he hears “bump”, he goes to that voice. It tells the man who is beat to come to me and follow me back to my own man so we can match up quickly.


Key Terms

Here are some key terms to determine how the defense will slide. We can slide from different areas with the hot man. Then we can mix up where our fill slides come from.

Coming from the Crease: the hot man slides from the crease.

Crease, Crease: the hot man comes from the crease and the second slide comes from the backside crease.

Adjacent: We may come in hot from the adjacent defender initially. The second slide could be adjacent as well, meaning the first slide hot player and the second slide fill player.

Combo Packages

First Slide Hot from an Adjacent Defender, Second Slide from the Crease: The first slide is from the crease defender and the second slide is from the adjacent defender.

Sliding Cross Crease: When we are defending the ball on the dodge from behind the goal.

Cross-Crease Slide: When a defender slides across the crease from the backside.


Slide Scheme Development

Brown uses a variety of drills that start at the base level of 1 v 1 and eventually build that up to 6 v 6. The goal is to start with the fundamentals and then evaluate the decision-making skills of each player. The first drill here works on such.

1 v 1 Drill

One player will start in the middle with a ball up top and a defender on him. The hot man is on the crease with a coach nearby. This drill is indeed 1 v 1. The slide man is only a decision-maker. The coach will sit there and evaluate his decision-making. The coach will keep the hot man in there for 3-4 reps. Meanwhile, the dodger dodges 1 v 1. The Coach will then have the defender in a good open stance and ready to go. Next, the coach will ask the player about his decision-making. Should he “Go” OR not say anything? The coach has the same vision as the hot man and can give some good feedback right away.

On the Field

The team’s slide scheme development begins with on-ball play. This focuses on a few key principles, particularly being good 1-on-1 defenders. Here we’re going to work on some on-ball play with an offensive player dodging from up top. The cardinal rule for the defender on the 1-on-1 is to not give up the middle of the field. Remember, the goalie focuses solely on the ball and the on-ball defender.

This 1-on-1 drill can be run from up top, the side and behind the net.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “How to Create a Strong Team Defense” with Lars Tiffany. Check out similar defensive videos in our exclusive video library.

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