Game Ready: How Defenders Get Noticed

PHOTO BY MIKE MORGAN


Grab a pole, make a team. If only it were that simple. It’s hard to get noticed as a defenseman at tryouts.

We turned to the U.S. team’s Matt Dunn, the 2020 PLL Defensive Player of the Year and the defensive director for First Class Lacrosse. This article was adapted from 1stclasslax.com.

SHORT SLIDES AND FREE DOUBLES

It looks great to take the ball away, but if you seek these opportunities too frequently, you may be exposed. Jumping picks, short slides and free doubles are great methods of playmaking in a team defensive setting. This shows coaches that you can play team defense and anticipate opportunities to put pressure on opposing offenses.

If you are adjacent or on the crease when a dodger is rolling back and forth, look for your opportunity to double. When teams set picks inside the paint, look for opportunities to jump and put pressure on the opposition. The tighter an opposing offense gets to the cage, the more these examples present themselves.

TOUGH GROUND BALLS

If you consistently come out of scrums with the ball, this will catch the eye of many coaches.

COLLAPSES AND 2 SLIDES

There is nothing better than a well-timed second slide in a rotation or crease collapse. Flow with the ball and anticipate movement. Defenders that only focus on covering the ball will miss great opportunities to cause turnovers off forced feeds to the crease or on quick throwbacks. Stay low and active and keep your head on a swivel.







COVERING THE TOP PLAYER

If you can constantly frustrate a highly touted attackman, coaches will notice. Even when on the matchup, however, add value to the whole defensive unit by communicating and working to help off the ball.

OTHER WAYS TO STAND OUT

  • Carry yourself professionally. It’s OK to be yourself and celebrate, but don’t showboat or taunt.

  • Be a great teammate. Let your effort inspire others.

  • Have urgency on the field. Beat the whistle off the end line.

  • Be the loudest player on the field.

  • Ask questions and show coachability.

  • Fundamental approaches and breakdowns (low hips, chest up, stick in front, more skewers, less slaps)

  • Maintain defensive posture throughout a possession. 

This article appears in the February 2022 edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Join our momentum.

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