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Archives by Tag 'Dave Pietramala'

Improving On-Ball Defense: The Retreat Drill

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

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.

Developing the Individual Defender: Goal-line Drill with Cones

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In this week’s defensive drill of the week, Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala highlights the highly effective Goal-line Drill. Using cones, the goal is to practice maintaining proper technique regarding how to stop offensive players from beating you when playing behind the net. The cones will indicate which area of the field you don’t want offensive players to get above or beyond.

Follow along as Coach Pietramala reveals step-by-step how exactly to implement the proper techniques, movements and strategies. This drill is critical to developing defenders at every level and is an effective method the head coach uses with his team on a frequent basis.

On Field Step-by-Step Discussion

Using the video as a guideline, note how the cones are situated around the goal area. These cones indicate the areas of the field that defenders do not want offensive players to get above or beyond. The cones don’t go any higher than three yards above the goal line and they have a noticeable arc while tapering to the sideline. This is exactly the pattern we want to follow when we are approaching the GLE and locking up with an offensive player to drive them away from the goal.

The two cones nearest to the GLE are helping us teach the defender the proper angle they want to take to beat an offensive player to his spot. Also it’s key to remember that the crease is our friend. An offensive player must make an arc around it. That arc is exactly how we want to turn our body and have it facing the corner of the field. It’s similar to a gate. It’s either open or closed. With these cones, it teaches players how to close the gate. And by following the outline of the cones, it forces your body to adjust and turn so that you’re no longer facing the sideline and you’re now facing the corner of the field with your top foot forward.

In terms of player movement here, we want to “swing the gate closed.” In other words, swing the hips around and follow the cones and drive the offensive player away from the goal. This is why the cones go away from the goal.

You’ll frequently hear the terms “Plant”, “Drop” and “Squeeze” used with this drill. It’s important that players remember these terms so they can get the key points ingrained in their head. Here in the drill, we want to plant our outside foot, drop-step down the line to handle the first move, and then squeeze the opposing player behind the goal.


Goal Line Drill Full Speed

Now, watch as the drill is conducted at full speed. Players will begin well behind the goal before making their way to one side of the net based on the coach’s instructions. Once there, the player will plant his outside foot and yell “plant.” Then, he’ll drop his outside foot and yell “drop.” Next, he’ll squeeze and ride the offensive player away from the net by following the cone footprint. Remember, when squeezing, it’s important to be a half-foot behind the offensive player so they can’t roll back toward the goal. From there, players should follow the footprint on the opposite side of the net.


To following clips can be seen in their entirety on the Championship Productions’ DVD “Developing On-Ball Defenders Behind the Net” with Dave Pietramala. Check out additional defensive videos featuring Coach Pietramala and other top coaches in our extensive catalog.

Learn from the 2011 NCAA Men’s Division I Lacrosse Tournament Coaches!

By mike.oconnell - Last updated: Sunday, May 15, 2011

Championship Productions would like to congratulate all the teams who qualified for the 2011 Men’s NCAA Division I Lacrosse Tournament! Championship Productions is proud to say it has partnered with many of the 2011 Tournament  Coaches on various Lacrosse DVD projects.  Learn the systems, tips, techniques, and drills that these outstanding coaches implemented within their programs…taking them to the top!

Virginia (Dominic Starsia)

Johns Hopkins (Dave Pietramala & Bobby Benson)

Denver (Bill Tierney)

Notre Dame (Kevin Corrigan)

Duke (John Danowski)


Johns Hopkins Jumps to #2 in Latest Polls!

By mike.oconnell - Last updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Congratulations to coaches  Dave Pietramala, Bobby Benson and the entire Johns Hopkins Lacrosse team as they have moved to #2 in the latest rankings. Championship Productions has worked with coach Pietramala and coach Benson on multiple instructional lacrosse DVDs.  Learn the skills and drills that  have propelled Johns Hopkins to be one of the best teams in the country!

Dave Pietramala Instructional DVDs

Bobby Benson Instructional DVDs



Improving On-Ball Defense: The Address Drill

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A lacrosse team will hold a major advantage if they can shut down opposing offenses from operating effectively behind the goal. In this week’s player development feature, Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala — one of lacrosse’s most respected and knowledgeable defensive minds — walks you through the “Address Drill,” an influential and useful defensive drill that teaches players about proper technique, stick positioning, communication and strategy, all designed to give you an edge against your opponent behind the net.

According to Pietramala, it’s very important on defense for players to address the ball the appropriate way. How a defender addresses a ball carrier could be the difference in a goal or even the outcome of an entire game.

Dictating to the Offense
The first key is to constantly dictate to the offense where we want them to go. Don’t let the offense dictate to you, and it starts with practicing individual technique on how to address the ball carrier.

Most players are right-handed, so defenders should overplay their opponents’ strong-hand side. It’s important to always force the dodger back behind the goal because he can’t score from there, he can only feed. If you force the offensive player to the outside, now he has the chance to feed AND score a goal.

Proper Form is Critical
Defenders can take away the outside part of the field by a specific foot technique. The outside foot should be positioned out in front and the inside foot should be back, also known as “heel to toe.” If a dodger is right-handed, this technique will force him to have his left foot forward and should hedge him further behind the goal.

Meanwhile, the defender is balanced with knees bent, but not bent at the waist. The defender is also relaxed with legs shoulder-width apart. Altogether, the defender is in a comfortable, athletic position.

Stick Positioning
In terms of stick positioning, a defender’s stick should be out in front and pointed forward at the offensive player. The stick is considered our margin of error and provides a six-foot cushion to make a mistake. A defender is now fully able to handle an initial move of the offensive player.

Far too often, defenders will play with their stick at the hip, and this is a problem. The extra space this creates gives a dodger the ability to make his initial move closer to the defender, which in turn, gives him a greater chance of succeeding.

Address Drill #1

The first segment of this drill starts with two defenders. One will act as the offensive player and the other player will act as the defensive on-ball player, simulating 1-on-1 defense. Players should be about seven yards apart and facing each other like in a game situation, but the defender should start out in a help-defense position. The defensive player will pretend the ball is on the opposite side of the field and at the sound of the whistle, will simply sprint up to the offensive player and address him using proper technique, stickwork and footwork as if his man now has possession. The drill stops at the next sound of the whistle and players rotate through.

Note: It’s important for short sticks to practice this drill, too. When addressing the ball with a short stick, the stick should be pointed to the outside of the field to take away the “top side” and funnel the dodger back behind the goal. Long sticks will not switch hands in this scenario, but short-sticks will so the body and stick are taking away the top side route to the goal.

Address Drill #2

In this segment, we’ll put two defenders in with two offensive players to simulate moving the ball back and forth behind the net and addressing the ball carrier on both sides of the goal.  The drill begins with the ball on one side with one of the offensive players. The on-ball defender will begin by addressing his man with the ball before dropping into team defense positioning when the ball is moved to the other side of the field.

The drill continues as the two offensive players pass the ball back and forth to each other and the defensive players keep switching from on-ball defense to off-ball team defense.

Keys to remember about on-ball defense
*Teams do not need any offensive players to execute this drill. By having four defensive players run the drill, you’re getting more players involved at the same time.
*Teams need just one coach to run these drills.
*Move the ball quickly to really work the defense and move at game speeds.
*Stress constant communication between players. This area is critical in order for defenses to be successful. No matter the situation, there’s always a place for communication in lacrosse.

Click here to see more on-ball defensive drills from the Championship Productions DVD “Developing On-Ball Defenders Behind the Net.” Check out more exclusive Championship Production videos featuring Dave Pietramala and effective defensive drills here.


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