In this week’s team development feature, we’ll focus on defensive slide schemes in a 4 v 4 format. Be sure to pick up critical tips, strategies, and effective practice drills from one of the game’s brightest minds. Brown head men’s lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany first breaks down the action using whiteboard diagrams before moving to the field for live simulations.
The action starts with 4 v 4 dodging and then moves into top down slide schemes. Also, read about more defensive practice drills and key strategies by checking out previous features featuring Coach Tiffany.
This 4 v 4 drill, zeroing in on perimeter rotation, is highly effective for building on team defensive concepts and practicing game-like situations. Start by putting four offensive players in box positions on the outside (two behind attackers and two middies up top). Then put four defenders on the field as well, each covering an offensive player. Coach Tiffany prefers to start by coming out of the low right corner for this drill. You can also change where you do the initial dodge to practice a number of different looks.
In terms of player roles, “D0” means the on-ball defender. Because there is no crease in play with this set-up, we must slide adjacent. Here we can practice our adjacent slide schemes versus a perimeter four-man set up.
D1 is the hot man and must be ready to slide cross crease. D2 is ready to be the second slide, or our fill. D3 could also be ready to be the third slide. If your unit does a good job on the on-ball defender and forces the attacker to the outside or inside roll and doesn’t beat you top side, then D1 comes cross crease. If the offense makes the open pass to the opposite open attacker, D2 comes down the backside with the second slide and then D3 arrives with the third slide across. Meanwhile, our recovery man (the former on-ball defender) comes back and finds the open man, which in this case is the middie up top.
Goals: You can get a ton of reps with this drill. All players should rotate through the positions as well (from D0 to D3). This way, defenders must recognize their new roles and make the proper adjustments.
This particular slide scheme simulates when the second slide comes from the top down. The drill demonstrates when there are three middies up top offensively, a set-up teams are using more frequently in recent years. There’s also one crease player and likely two players behind the goal with this formation.
In this simulation, the dodge is coming from the top left middie, and “D0” will be the on-ball defender. Also, get a line of players just off to the side and ready to step up after each rep.
Key Strategies: “D1” is our hot player and covering the crease player in the middle. Now, we have a choice as to who’s going to be that second slide. Let’s identify “D2” now for the second slide on the backside wing. When D1 moves up with his slide, D2 will then slide down the backside to cover the crease man and “fill down.” Now the offense won’t have an open crease player because we slid properly and have it covered. Then it all comes down to how quickly the offense can move the ball around against how quickly the defense can recover and defend against it. There is a big chance for a 2-on-1 offensive break, so communication is key for the defense.
Goals: You can have them go at 100 percent and smash each other OR go at 75 percent and have the dodger dodge and force the defense to slide, and then the dodger resets and goes again. Make this simulation realistic where the defense must slide, recover, and then slide again quickly.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “How to Create a Strong Team Defense” with Lars Tiffany. To check out more defensive-oriented videos, head over to our lacrosse library.
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.
In this week’s edition of Coaches Corner, learn more than a dozen top lacrosse drills submitted by some of the nation’s most renowned NCAA coaches. From the likes of NCAA Champions John Danowski, Bill Tierney and Jim Berkman, the coaches dish out their personal favorites, plus a few player preferences, as well. The drills were compiled from Coaches Corner Q&A’s over the 2010-2011 season. Be sure to read through and see if you can pick up some new drills for your practices this season.
“It’s hard to pinpoint one, but I like doing some of the simpler drills that break down our overall scheme — like 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 drills that are controlled. By doing these drills, we get to work on dodging, off-ball play, communication, ball movement and even spacing. They allow players to add-lib and be decision-makers on the field, whether it’s dodging, sliding or recovering. Plus, it teaches a lot of the fundamentals and basics that are important to work on frequently.”
“My favorite drill is Mechanics Progression, which deals with your elbows, shoulders and hands and really focuses on the fundamentals of the game. If you can’t catch and throw, you can’t do anything in this game. There’s nothing more important than that. It may be mundane to our players, but it’s absolutely the cornerstone of our program.”
“It’s not brain surgery here, but we like to put people in tight spaces, especially around the goal. We’ll go 3-on-2, 4-on-3 and 5-on-4 a lot, not necessarily 40-yard sprints, but around the goal and look to move the ball under pressure and make good decisions. It teaches the guys how to protect and stick handle and make quick passes in tight spaces. It’s teaches defenses how to slide and rotate and I think it makes them better overall when it comes to on the field during a game.”
“My favorite is the General Drill. It’s a 1-on-1 drill and there’s an off-ball defenseman and an off-ball offensive player. Imagine you have a feeder who’s not in the drill standing at the goal line extended to the goalie’s left and about 10 yards wide. He’ll throw a ball to the top center or right to an offensive player standing 14-15 yards from the goal and the defenseman is at the top of the crease. They are both waiting for the pass and when the ball is passed, it’s live. They have to play 1-on-1 now.
The offensive player looks to gets the ball in a wind-up position, catching it in his shooting stance and hopefully only has two steps to a shot. And now it’s decision-making time. Do I have to dodge? Can I just rip it? How should I stand off-ball, move off-ball and make a move? We can do lots of variations of this too, anything to re-create a defense that has sagged in on the backside and the ball is redirected and we are forced to create.”
“Well it goes back to the concept that defense wins titles. My favorite drills are ones that put the offense at an advantage and the defense at a disadvantage. One is a 7-on-6 drill where we insert another player into it after a 6-on-6 situation and we work on slides and rotations. There’s also the 656 drill, where the offense is out-manning the defense 6-on-5 until the defender gets back into play, and this simulates a slide technique.
Then there’s the red-white drill. We go up and down 5 vs. 4 and can add a man and make it 6 vs. 5 drill. It’s great for transition play, ball movement and skill development for offensive players. There’s also survival drills like 2-on-2 perimeter drills where we force the ball inside so that two defenders have to communicate and switch. The bottom line is that we like to run drills that will simulate what we do in the game.”
“It’s called the Shoot as Hard as You Can Drill. It’s an offensive drill and we use it during pre-game warm-ups and even run it three or four days a week in practice. We get the guys right out in front of the cage and we teach them how to shoot as hard as they can without worrying about where the ball goes. We try to get in a lot of reps, focus on keeping your hands back, your momentum going towards the shot and having the players fall into the crease.”
“We really love 4-on-4 drills. It gives us three slides in defensive packages. We can move people around and simulate our offense pretty well with four people and the kids get a feel for where they belong. Plus, we can work on spacing, picking off the ball and defensively who will be the first, second and third slide. We can get so much done and there’s less people to worry about and look at on a daily basis.”
“It’s called the Scrapping Drill. We run it at the beginning or end of practice with the emphasis on picking up ground balls and keeping focused while under pressure. We’ll get two teams together with a goalie in net and have two players going up against one. The team of two has to figure out how to score. It happens very fast and is over sometimes in three or four seconds. It’s a high-energy and high-tempo drill that gets the guys amped up and often has consequences at the end of practice for the losing team.”
See the Scrapping Drill in John Danowksi’s new DVD, All-Access Duke Lacrosse, Volume II: Individual Skills and Full Field Drills.
“It’s called Full-Field Scramble. It goes from 4-on-3 to 5-on-4 the other way and then 6-on-4 the other way and then finally 10-on-10. The guys like that one because of the transition components. It’s good for conditioning and then ends up being a full field situation where the kids must make good decisions. They also must learn to fast break, defend in the box, come down and make the appropriate cuts, and then defend 6-on-6 and clear on the other end. It forces guys to make a lot of different decisions and really enhances the lacrosse IQ.”
Stay tuned this season for more Q&A’s featuring some of the game’s top lacrosse coaches. Also, be sure to sign-up for our bi-weekly lacrosse eNewsletter “Inside the Crease.”