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This week’s team development feature focuses on man-down defense and a key drill that can help boost your team’s overall defensive play. Led by Brown University head men’s lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany, the drill featured in this segment will teach your defenders how to knock down crucial passes in 5 v 3 situations and get them to learn proper positioning in specific man-down formats. This 5 on 3 drill — easy to implement at practice — will also have players going at full speed.
For this scenario, A, B, C, D, and E are all offensive players. For defense, we have D1, D2, and D3. With this drill, the defense has more opportunities to see the ball flying around from different angles. The offense will be set up in an outside formation of a 3-3 offensive set. Meanwhile, the defenders will be put in the skip lanes, the primary lanes you need to knock down passes. Coach Tiffany has excluded the two defenders who might be responsible for defending the crease.
With this drill, if the ball is with B, we need D1 and D3 to be responsible for the skip lanes, i.e. from B to E, and B to D. As the ball moves around the outside, we must define what the next stick lane will be. If the ball is passed from B to C, D1 must adjust his positioning to be in the skip lane from C to E. He must also peek to see if E is moving. If E cuts in, he must cut down further. We tell the top defender (D2 here) that he can’t let a skip go between C and A.
This is an ideal drill to do a day before a game when you’re trying to get the stick skills flowing and don’t want to wear out your players’ legs. Be sure to get a lot of balls behind each offensive player. We want the players to throw a lot of passes, taking a lot of chances, and giving our defense lots of reps to intercept balls, knock them down, and put them on the ground.
Now we are really building up the picture to be more like a man down scheme against a 3-3 offensive set. We have five offensive players around the horn and have also eliminated the crease player. Remember, the defenders are three perimeter defenders and not the two crease-guarding defenders. The offensive players should remain relatively stationary (i.e. no dodging or attacking the goal).
Be sure to pick up some additional man-down drills by reading our previous blog features starring Coach Tiffany: 3 Effective Man-Down Lacrosse Drills to Boost Defensive Play, plus Man-Down Defense: The General Drill.
This week, pick up some tips from one of the game’s sharpest minds as Tiffany highlights key defensive strategies in a 2 vs. 2 format. Tiffany first breaks down the 2 vs. 2 action using whiteboard diagrams before taking to the field for some live simulations with his squad.
The action focuses first on using no picks before eventually getting into screens up top and behind the net. Also, be sure to pick up more defensive tips and key terms from our previous feature starring Coach Tiffany.
We are adding to our team defense scheme development with 2 vs. 2 action, which really emphasizes on ball and off ball skills. This is more free-flowing than most other defensive drills. With the up top offensive player, we will say to them, can you beat your opponent? For the defensive player, we will say, can you prevent your opponent from beating you? For the two off ball players, can the offensive player rotate to a good spot to be an outlet and a scoring threat? Defensively, do we need the defender to slide? Should you slide?
In this first scenario, we’ve got a dodger up top and an attackman on the crease. But we will also put the offensive players behind the goal, too. Perhaps there’s a defender on-ball and then another defender ready to slide from an adjacent position.
On the Field
We do a lot of 2 vs. 2 work at Brown. Let’s start with an on-ball defender and a help defender (hot man). Defensively, do we need to slide? If so, can we do so in a way that won’t leave his man wide open? For now, there will be no picks on the ball.
On the field, players go 2 vs. 2 in live action. Meanwhile, Tiffany provides the play-by-play and uses slow motion replays to highlight his tips and suggestions.
Next, the players move behind the cage. Still, there are no picks yet. The key here is to really emphasize communication between teammates, plus slides and recovery tactics.
Now, what happens if the offense brings a body to the dodger with a pick? There are three ways to counter.
1) Get Through. Our communicator is the defender off ball (D2). As the attackman approaches the pick, the defender says “Get Through” and he wants to be a yard or two off his man and a yard or so over, giving room for D1 to get underneath the pick and through it.
2) Switch. D1 is on the ball. D2 should position himself a little wide and off his man. D1 will let go of the man he was guarding, releasing him, and switching to guard the picker. D2 will now step up and guard the dodger.
3) Double. This is where we jump the pick. D2 will trail his man in initially. As the pick is set, he will jump up and attack the ball carrier. D1 will trail the dodger into D2, hopefully forming a closing-in tactic on the offensive player.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week’s player development feature highlights proper goalie positioning covering a variety of different situations. Former Towson head coach Tony Seaman breaks down key tips and techniques for goaltenders when the ball is behind the cage and being dodged from the side. Also, learn about how to “match sticks” and figure out player “tells” in order to stay one step ahead of the opposition.
The position of the goalie when the ball is behind the net is very important. Let’s start with footwork. When a player has the ball behind the goalie on the left, the goalie’s right leg should be in the middle of the goal. Meanwhile, his left leg should be facing towards the player with the ball.
Notice that the stick is not higher than the pipe. This says to the offense that if they want to pass the ball over the goalie, they can probably go ahead and try. However, the goalie has the ability to reach out and knock down any of those passes. We say, “try it”, but we’ll more than likely knock it down.
Next, if an offensive player looks to moves up field from behind the cage on the side, the goalie can also step to the pipe. At this position, a goaltender will be closer and taller in the pipe and won’t allow an offensive player to have the inside angle to shoot at. This also forces the opposition to go around and shoot around the goal. This is considered good pipe coverage.
As for the opposite side (to the right), the left foot should be in the middle of the goal with the right foot facing the offensive player. As that player drives, the goalie should step up and protect the pipe while facing the offensive player. One of the biggest rules for a goalie is to never give up the near pipe – AKA the space between the goalie and the pipe.
One area that isn’t practiced far enough with goalies is when players dodge from behind or pass the ball from behind. These are the situations when goalies must learn how to turn, follow, and pick up the shot. It’s typically one of the keys for most offenses you go against, so it’s important for you to work on this technique and skill. Remember, your body should also follow your hands.
Many goalies keep a rule of thumb in mind to match sticks. In other words, this means to match the plane of the ball. If one offensive player throws a pass out in front to another player, the area where the player catches the ball is probably the level where the ball is going to come from (off the shot).
With the ball down low, 90 percent of the time the shot is going to come from the hip or side arm or lower. The vast majority of shooters in the country will shoot low when they drop their sticks low. Therefore, the biggest thing for the goalie is to follow the plane of the ball and get the stick there.
When intercepting balls thrown from behind the goal, the goalie should be in a position to reach up and deflect or catch a pass. Keep that outside foot in the center of the goal and maintain proper positioning. Always be in ready position.
If a ball is thrown from up top to behind the goal and close to the cage, the goalie can come out and intercept the pass on the run. But beware of the fake pass, as that player will have an open look on net. Don’t get out there early. Leave once the ball has been thrown.
Good technique comes from practice and extra hours even away from the field. Just playing catch can have a major impact for a player — and it doesn’t even have to be with another goalie.
Each and every time you want to get a good step with the lead foot and nice follow through. Continue to pass and catch further apart and work on longer passes. Start with good, straight throws and then eventually move up to arcs and 35-40-yard passes that you can make with accuracy and control.
Meanwhile, when you don’t have someone to throw to, look for a wall. This gives you a chance to work on your skills by yourself. The wall never misses a pass and always throws it back. Remember to work on good technique of stepping towards the ball and stopping the ball. As a goaltender, it’s key to stop the ball, not necessarily catch the ball. We don’t want to turn the stick and cradle. Rather, we want to use as much of the face of the stick to stop the ball as possible.
Notice that the stick is always facing out toward the shot until the ball has hit the stick. Use good form to throw it back. Plus, a wall with an uneven surface really helps for catching and your overall reaction.
The above clips and techniques can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Becoming a Champion Lacrosse Player: The Goalie” with Tony Seaman. Check out more goalie-specific videos in our extensive lacrosse DVD library.
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.
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.