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Top 4 Individual Drills and Skills that Defensemen Should Work On

By Murf Butler, 05/31/17, 10:45AM EDT

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These drills are simple additions to every practice session for any close defenseman or longstick midfielder who wants to become truly elite. They are designed to improve the stick handling abilities of every player, while also developing all the tools needed to be a complete defenseman. 

1. "Stir the Pot"

This drill is simple; it only requires a player to put on their gloves and pick up their stick and a ball. The player picks up the ball while keeping his stick low and close to the ground and begins to rotate the stick, and perform a "toe drag", to work on soft hands and the ability to turn his wrists over while retaining possession of the ball. Then after the desired time or number of reps are completed, the player reverses the direction of his stick which is a little more challenging. To see the drill in action, click on the video from The Hill Academy, on the right.


2. Backhand Passing

There are a number of situations in which the backhand pass can be of use to a defenseman, whether that be during a groundball under pressure and you find yourself unable to roll out, saving a ball on the endline, or just advancing the ball quickly. Every defenseman should feel comfortable throwing backhanded. Just incorporate some time during your passing with a friend or your wall ball routine to work on the ability to pass the ball backhanded with both hands. The big key to this is to let your core and your torso do most of the work, so make sure to shorten up your arm movement compared to a normal pass. For an example of a successful backhand pass, see the clip on the right.


3. Approaching the Ball Carrier

Every single possession during a lacrosse game, defensemen are called on to approach an offensive player with the ball. The angles that the defenseman takes are crucial in determining whether or not they will be able to stop their offensive player from making a play. The drill shown at right does an excellent job of highlighting how to approach a ball carrier and force them to the direction you want them to go, whether that be to their weak hand, down the alley, keeping them underneath GLE, or forcing them into a slide or double team. 


4. Checking and Hand Speed

This is another simple drill that makes a big difference in a defenseman's game. In fact, the hardest part may be finding a partner to do the drill with. First, have a teammate or a friend stand in front of you with their gloves on, and arms extended straight out from their body. Next, determine how many reps you want to do or how much time you want to do the drill for. I recommend 20 reps or 30 seconds, because these drills make you work. Then, you begin by moving your stick over top of your partner's hands to form an "M", by starting on one side, touching between his gloves, and then touching the opposite side from where you started. The next set will be similar, but instead you will create a "W", by moving underneath your partner's gloves. Finally, you'll be making a "figure 8" around your partner's gloves- make sure you perform this one in both directions, with your stick moving downward between the gloves and moving upward between the gloves. If you can't find a partner to do this with, there's an alternative: stand perpendicular to a lacrosse goal, and move your stick back and forth over the cross bar. For demonstrations of all of these movements, check out the video on the right.

Staying the course, and continuing to work hard make these players the perfect example!

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