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Installing and Instilling Team Defense Principles

Team Defense is a state of mind. Your long stick defenseman are the key to the success of your youth team. Their preparation and state of mind on game day must be such that inevitable mistakes by middies and goalies are absorbed and minimized and then turned to offensive advantages.
Defense starts with the defensemen, and then you work up to the Middies.

Start with some important philosophies of Team Defense:
If individuals do not execute sound individual defensive techniques and attitudes, no amount of team defense coaching can overcome the breakdown on the field. THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT!
Coaching Confidence - If you can't coach it, they can't learn it. You must know it and be able to communicate it age appropriately.

Know the abilities of your personnel:
  • Speed is paramount
  • Smart kids make smart defensemen. Put the smartest kid at Crease.
  • Each defenseman must be able to handle the following reality without it hurting him emotionally- "We work as a Unit, we fail as a unit. Goalies are NEVER to blame, ever! Middies will disappoint you, accept it. All goals are a defensemen's responsibility."
  • Ability to perform under stress and fatigue. Run your defense harder than you run your middies. Middies can be changed frequently, defense not so much.
  • Upper body and arm/wrist strength and agility are key traits.
  • Defense should be the best scoopers.
  • Play kids with pride, not ego.
  • Courage, no fear of contact, no fear of the ball.
  • Size. This should not be the first consideration. Size helps but you need the preceding points before simply using the big kid.
This acronym should flow with your defensemen
  • Tenacity - Don't ever give up, recover if you make a mistake.
  • Anticipation - Be where they want to go. Think, Act, Prevent.
  • Communication - Silence is deadly. Silence is the first sign of defeat.
  • Technique - Practice proper technique until it is second nature, When chaos hiys, and it will, you fall back on your habits.
  • Intelligence - Lacrosse is a thinking man's sport. Know your opponent and use it against him.
  • Confusion - Avoid it among yourselves. Cause it in others!. Do NOT be predictable.


Keep it simple:

Stick on Stick. Body on Body. Maintain defensive distance.
Switch hands to maintain stance and angle control.
Turn all advancing offenses toward the outside.
Know where the ball is ALWAYS. The ball is the little white sphere, NOT the man carrying it.
Do NOT play your man if he is behind the cage without the ball.
Always assume you are covering two men when you are adjacent to the ball.
Move when the ball moves, don't guess.
Sticks up in the passing lanes and feeding lanes.
Sag into the hole when play is on the opposite side.
Call the ball.
Call "Hot" if you are the first line of help to your teammate. If you are sliding it is not a secret
Do not switch on picks if you can avoid it.
Play defense with your feet.
The backdoor is always closed.
Sticks cannot stop bodies. Know where the Hard Body Check zone is if you must resort to it.