Defense is probably the least recognized position in lacrosse since defensemen are not the goalmakers… Not directly at least. But a good all around team requires a good offense and a good defense. Without a good balance on both sides of the field, your team will struggle if your defense is weak.
Size is a great asset for a defensemen, but agility is even more valuable. Larger players may be intimidating, but this position also requires speed and agility in order to be effective.
In general, good defensemen need speed, good footwork and excellent checking and decision making skills. A defenseman needs to be quick in both mind and body. You will typically be under a lot of pressure, so quick decision making skills is a crucial part of your role. Practice a variety of game situations and rehearse what you will do in each situation.
Teams need to keep at least four player on their defensive side at all times… including the goalie. Because of this, defensemen rarely ever make their way past midfield. Rather, they are in charge of covering the opposing attackers and should also be adept at passing so they can easily hit their targets down field when needed.
An effective defensive strategy includes constant communication. You want to announce the ball’s position, cutters and screens at all times so your teammates can focus on their man.
When the man you are responsible for defending has the ball, you want to be sure that you are in a good position to strike. Knees should be slightly bent, you should be up on the balls of your feet and ready to move at any moment. Your movements need to be quick and methodical. Be sure that you are about a stick length away from your man and match your stick head to his so you are ready for the check if necessary.
THINGS YOU NEED TO GET GOOD AT:
Communication: The best defensemen are loud and constantly communicate with attackmen, middies and their goalie.
Footwork: Become quick on your feet and practice your footwork on a regular basis.
Decision making: You need to be able to think fast and act logically under pressure.
Passing: Defensemen are often used to get the offense out of sticky situations. You’ll need to know how to pass downfield when you find yourself with the ball.