16 Lacrosse Defense Tips to Shut Down Your Opponent

How is your defensive game? Do attackers with quick feet blow by you? Are you losing time on the field because you just can not seem to be effective enough in the back?

Defense is tremendously hard. It seems like in any sport you play, whether it’s lacrosse or not, playing defense is a grind.

For example, if you do your job and shut the other team down, that is what is expected of you. Good job. But, if you mess up, your mistakes are highlighted by a scoring opportunity for you opponent or worse, a goal.

Making a mistake on the defensive end is tremendously costly and terribly embarrassing.

We here at “OneStopLacrosse” want to take this opportunity to ELIMINATE your defensive mistakes as much as possible.

If you take the advice from even one of the tips/points we give you here, we are confident that you could immensely transform your defensive game.

Shut down your opponent, protect your goal, give your team the chance to WIN MORE GAMES.

That’s all that really matters right? Of course.

Let’s take a look at the 10 Best “on-field” and “off-field” tips we could come up with.

“Off the Field” Lacrosse Defense Tips: 

1. Get Quicker Feet!

Defense is hugely influenced by your ability to respond to the offensive player. Your goal is to keep your offensive player in front of you, as far away from the goal as possible.

This becomes a great deal more difficult with SLOW FEET.

Maybe you can recognize what move your opponent is about to make, but your brain thinks faster than your feet can move, and your opponent is screaming past you with an opportunity at the goal.

Your ability to move your body and stay in the most advantageous position to match the attackers moves will determine to a large extent how successful you will be in doing your job as a defender.

Actionable Tips to Getting Quicker Feet –

  • Jump Rope More – Jump roping is one of the most effective exercises to improve your coordination, agility and as well explosiveness in your vertical leap.
  • Run Stairs – Stair running is a brutal workout. However, finding a killer set of stairs, and knocking out 10 sets on it once a week will improve your quickness greatly.
    • Remember to focus on getting each foot to touch each stair. This becomes harder and harder the more tired you get.
    • Bonus: Running stairs is a great practice to train your focus too.
  • Pay Attention to Your Flexibility – Having greater range of motion with your muscles can greatly influence your ability to make explosive moves on the field.

2. Be Fitter than the Offensive Player

This should not need to be explained all too much. If you are a fitter player, you will have a greater chance to keep up with your opponent EVEN IF YOU MESS UP.

Play for play, playing on the defensive side myself, I feel it takes more energy to play offense than defense. If you are fitter than your match up, your job just became 100% easier.

Important Note! All of these points are connected. If you are fit but have terrible feet, attackers will still get the best of you. If you have great feet but are gasping for air, a few plays into a game and the attacker is making you look foolish

Actionable Steps to Get Fitter:

  • Do Sprints! – Yes, we did not say go for a run. Turns out sprints are a safer, and MORE EFFECTIVE form of training for your body. 
    • Longer distance running breaks down muscle
    • Sprints promote muscle growth
    • Sprinting connects us back to our ancestors! We were not meant to run long distances!
  • Watch what you are eating!
    • If you want to perform your best, you need to fuel your body with the best stuff you can get your hands on.
    • We are not going to get into detail on nutrition in this article, however a couple sites to get you started on performance nutrition if you are interested…

3. Stick Skills. Stick Skills. Stick Skills.

You cannot underestimate how much stick skill a defender needs to have in the back.

The more stick skill you have yourself, the wiser you will be to matching up with attackers who have a high level of stick skill themselves.

Having more skill with your stick makes you a more threatening defender. It is not a secret that some of the best takeaway defenders are those who can as well handle the ball well on the other side.

Take the time to get confident with your stick!

Actionable Steps to Increasing Your Stick Skill

  • Play More Wall Ball – Wall ball is one of the most accessible but still most effective methods for increasing stick skill. Spend some serious time getting comfortable with your throws, catches and scoops.

4. Study The Game. Study The Players

 It’s difficult to know exactly how to play good defense in lacrosse if you have never really seen what good defense looks like.

 

Take every opportunity to get to watch players that are better than you at something. That is the number one way to learn the game. WATCH THE GAME.

Actionable Steps to Learn the Game:

  • Watch high level lax games (college, professional)
  • Occasionally take some notes from what sort of things you notice these high level players doing on the defensive side of the field.

“On the Field” Lacrosse Defense Tips:

 Okay, now that we have given you some suggestions for things to work on “off the field”, let’s talk about in the game strategies and techniques that you can put into use “on the field”.

These tips are going to be a bit more “rapid fire” than our “off the field” tips.

Let’s get started.

5. Talk with Your Team! –

Communication is one of the most important aspects of playing good defense. If you team is more aware of what you are doing, what the other team is doing, they will have a better image of the whole field in their head.
Having everyone on the defensive side on the same page can make the difference between a an attacker sneaking in for a goal, or your team smashing an attack and heading the other way.

6. Keep Your Stick on the Attacker – 

This is one of those things that really good defenders do religiously. Keep your stick on your attacker and they feel they have less room to make a play, or make a move themselves. It’s also a terrible nuisance. That in part is your job as a defender. Be annoying

7. Go After Ground Balls. Always!

When the ball is on the ground during play, this often means things are a bit disorganized. Often times out of this disorganization, the attacking side can win the ground ball and catch the defense out of position.
Winning the ground balls can tremendously alter the course of the game. If you keep your defense from ever feeling out of position, there will be less scoring opportunities for the other side.

Important Note! – Remember when we talked about stick skills? Yeah, this connects right back to that. Work on scooping up ground balls!

8. Keep Your Stick Raised

This is another one of those “nuisance” type tactics. By keeping your stick raised, keeping it in passing lanes, you can limit the offensive side’s vision of the field.

Playing on the offensive side of the field and feeling that the field looks small is HORRIFYING.

9. Be Aware of Your Space Between You and Your Man –  

You must be extremely careful with how close you get to the attacker. With the right amount of space between you and the attacker, there is less chance of you buying a dodge, and them making a pass/taking a shot.

 If you are too close to your attacker, with one quick move they may leave you behind. We don’t want that happening.

 10. Always Know Where the Ball Is –

If your man is off the ball, you must be well aware of both him, and where the ball is.

The object of the game is to get the ball into the net right? If your man does not have the ball he remains to be very important, but not more important than the position of the ball.

Be aware of what is developing elsewhere on the field. You will be of more help to the rest of your defense.

11. Never Cross Your Feet on Defense –

Crossing your feet on defense can cost you. When your feet are crossed you are in a extremely less mobile position.

 12. When Clearing, Focus on Every Pass –

Making passes in the back is dicey business. If you make a mistake with the ball in the back, the other team may be coming down your throat.

Stick skills anyone? Making good passes out of the back can be a vital step as well for the first motion of attack.

 13. Try and Learn Your Attacker’s Game –

Pay attention to all the details of the attacker’s game. Is he right or left hand dominant? Which foot does he like to lead with? Is he in good shape? Is he weak/strong?

All this information you gather can be vital as the game progresses. The more you learn about your opponent, the more likely you will be to know what he is going to do before he does. Trippy.

14. Move to Cover Your Man When the Ball is In the Air –

If your man is playing “off the ball” then you should allow him some space. However, if your man is about to receive a pass, you should be to him right as he is catching it.

 The more time your attacker has with the ball while you are out of position, the more opportunity he has to make you look foolish.

 15. Be Confident

It may sound a bit cheesy, but your confidence level plays a huge role in your ability to perform on the field, offense or defense.

If you are lacking confidence, a good attacker will sense that and they will go at you all game long.

Do your best to be confident. Or at least, you can act confident, until you become it.

 16. Be Prepared to Go Into “Next-Play Mode” –

If you do happen to make a mistake and cost your team a goal, don’t sweat it. That stuff happens all the time.

A greater determiner of a good player is how they respond to their failures and mistakes rather than anything else.

Always be prepared to turn your “next-play mode” goggles on, be positive, and get after the next opportunity you have to protect your goal.

Conclusion:

There you have it Laxers, 16 of the best lacrosse defense tips we could come up with for you.

If you feel like there was something we missed, please leave a comment or send an email letting us know! We always want to improve the info we give out to the community!