31 Tips For Defensemen
1. Defense is a team concept. A team is only as good as it’s weakest defender, but a strong defensive team can cover 75% of their mistakes with team play.
2. As a pass is made to the man you are playing, move out to cover him, in control, as the ball is moving to him, so that you are in position as he catches it. Don't wait until he has caught the ball, and then move out on him.
3. Good defense is played with your feet. Much like basketball, good defenders square themselves to the ball carrier. Always try and keep your feet in front of the defender.
4. Know your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses. If he is strong left, position your body to tell him to go right. Make your opponent go where you want him to go, not where he wants to go/drive.
5. Once the attack man has the ball, worry him plenty by poke checking and lifting, etc., don't give much chance to look over his field, make him worry about you. There is a big difference between worrying a man and being over aggressive.
6. When not poking at the man with ball, keep your hands in front of you, bottom hand at your hip and the stick head directed toward his stick head in an upward fashion.
7. When your man hasn't got the ball, always play slightly to the ball side of him, so that you gain a step as he cuts toward the ball. If he cuts away from the ball, the pass must go over your head which leaves you in good position to intercept or check.
8. When your man hasn't got the ball, stand sideways (‘open up’) to the man and ball. You must use split vision watching both man and ball. 2 seconds viewing the ball and 1 second viewing your man.
9. There must be plenty of talk on defense, this is important. The following are the most important examples: Calling ‘cutters’ on all cuts through the middle. Call all ‘first slides’ and ‘second slides’ wheather your are sliding from the crease or from adjacent. ‘Man’, ‘ball’, ‘release’ on ground balls. Simple calls like ‘fast break’ or ‘clear’ will help all your teammates. Goalies will talk out positions and may call slides as well but a good defender is always communicating. The player furthest from the ball may be the most vocal because his man is less of a threat and he can see things develop a bit more.
10. Never cross your feet while playing an attack man unless you are forced to run to keep up with him.
11. Never throw a ball just to get rid of it, ‘cheap clear’. If you cannot clear the ball forward, remember, you can go back to your goalie or defense.
12. Always scoop a loose ball. Never draw/rake it. If there is a crowd, go through and either kick it or scoop it up.
13. Your first step when a player sets up his dodge will be a back and to the side he is driving to cut off his angle.
14. If a man beats you, keep after him. You should catch him as your slide comes in from the front.
15. When sliding on a offensive player, poke through the hands and follow with your body under control. Do not stick chase anywhere on defense, your long pole advantage will be lost.
16. Never pass a ball across in front of your goal.
17. If you are after a loose ball, but your attack man is ahead of you, press him hard under control if you cannot come up with the ball, but don't give him the opportunity to go around you.
18. As the man you are playing starts a pass, try and have your stick in position to simply poke or lift the bottom hand when he throws,
19. After the man you are playing throws a ball, step back two steps quickly and be ready for a cut. Also always look in the direction of the ball as you drop off. Don't turn your back on the ball.
20. If the ball is out front, and your man is behind the goal, play on the pipe of the cage on the side of the goal your man is on. B. If the ball is behind the goal and your man is behind also although without the ball, go behind with him.
21. If you ever switch, STAY WITH THAT MAN until your team gets the ball or you have to switch again.
22. When clearing the ball, as you catch the ball, circle away from your stick side if you are moving in to receive the pass.
23. Never let an attack man clamp your stick. If you are on the crease on a screen shot, stop it or catch it, if you can't do either then move so that your goalie can see it.
24. On clears, make all passes sharp, away from the (attack man) and, as a general rule, to the nearest open man.
25. On a clear, when making a pass to a man who is coming in to meet the ball throw at his face, so that he catches the ball in front of him, making it hard for a (attack man) to check him.
26. If the ball is rolling toward the midfield line, NEVER ALLOW your attack man to beat you to the ball. Be alert, use your stick to goose the ball to teammate. Don't let the attack man clamp your stick or lift up so ball goes under and through. Remember, if the ball is 5 yards away or less you can use your body for position. Don't hit from the rear and don't go offside.
27. Once the other team has cleared the ball, all defense men must drop in the hole fast and set up transition defense. No excuses for not being in the right spot and giving up and easy goal.
28. Never get in position to be beat clean far from the net. Drop with the dodger and give ground until you have to take body to push out or your slide comes to help.
29. When sliding on a ball carrier, poke through his hands and his stick and follow with your body if you can.
30. Learn as much about your opponent as you can. Is he fast or slow? Big or small? Good stick skills or weak? Excellent shooter or just ok? Right handed or left handed? Is he more a dodger or feeder? Does protect his stick well or hang it? Can you see his bottom hand or is it hidden. All these things will help you in all situations and will also help you to understand how best to play him. A single, well times poke check will take the ball away from a good attacker more times than hard slashes. Over the head checks and wrap checks are flashy but not for solid youth defenders, they will get you penalties.
31. We tell the attack that when you sign up to play attack, you sign on to be beaten by defenders all day and may never get a chance for payback. Defenders need to be hard nosed, aggressive and sometimes violent players, within the rules. Remember sportsmanship is also an important tool to have when the play or game is over!