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Improving On-Ball Defense: The Retreat Drill

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - Leave a Comment

Expanding on techniques executed in the Address Drill, Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala demonstrates the highly effective Retreat Drill. This particular drill teaches defenders how to handle that initial move by an offensive player and ways to eliminate flat feet.

Follow along as Coach Pietramala reveals how to implement the proper techniques, movements and strategies involved. The drill is a must for lacrosse teams at every level. It’s also an effective defensive tool used by Johns Hopkins on a frequent basis.

Drill Breakdown

After learning how to properly address the ball, this is the next step in the progression. It’s all about how to take that initial move by the offensive player and remain in a position to be effective defensively. It also continues to work on techniques covered in the Address Drill as well.

The drill starts with one player at a time behind the net and facing toward the endline (and with his/her back toward the goal). At the whistle, the player addressing the coach will retreat back a few steps, move forward again (following the coach’s signals), move back, and then forward, and then back again.

The participating player should follow the signals delivered by the coach to figure out when to retreat and address.

Signals: Putting the hand down means to stop and break down, pointing the hand backwards means to retreat, and pointing outward means to come back in and address the ball.

 

Avoiding Flat Feet

This drill really focuses on retreating or giving ground. Any time that an offensive player makes a move at a defender, we believe the first thing we need to do is retreat backwards with our stick in front of us and with a six-foot cushion. This enables the defender to handle any initial offensive move.

Too often, defenders are caught flat-footed when an offensive player makes a move. When flat-footed, they can’t retreat. Therefore, we’re making sure with this drill that we don’t get beat by the initial move.

 

Drill at Full Speed

Be sure to watch the feet and stick positioning here. When each defender comes out, they will immediately try to take away the offensive player’s right hand. Players should focus on picking their feet up and running backwards and not dragging the feet when backpedaling. You can also get the goalie involved and communicating with each defender on what’s expected and where to go.

Also, make sure that you conduct the drill on the left side of the cage. Nothing changes here. Rather than having our left foot forward, we will reverse that because we are taking away the left side of the goal. So it’s the right foot forward and left foot back.

 

The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Developing On-Ball Defenders Behind the Net” with Dave Pietramala. To check out more defensive-oriented videos in our lacrosse library, simply click here.

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