Editor’s Note: A former two-sport DI athlete at Fairfield University, Kelly has dedicated his life to building better lacrosse athletes, on and off of the field. Sean contributes regularly from his state-of-the-art Sports and Mental Preparation Facility in New Jersey. Take it from here, Sean!
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Being big and strong as a defenseman certainly helps when playing the game of lacrosse. However the one skill that is mandatory for excellence as lacrosse defensemen is footwork.
Parents often ask me what skills young defensemen should be working on to improve? Just like any other player on the lacrosse field, the higher the lacrosse IQ and the better the defenseman’s stick skills, the easier it will be for them to perform at a high level.
However, when it comes to defense, there is NOTHING that is more important than footwork and positioning.
Ignoring the Obvious
The key to good on ball defense is being able to dictate where the offensive player is going to go. This can only be done well if your footwork and technique are good.
As a coach, I am amazed at how many young players actually ignore this part of playing defense. I see a lot of young players who work really hard at getting stronger, play wall ball constantly, and watch lacrosse every chance they get.
Those things are all great areas of the game to work on, but nothing should come before trying to perfect your footwork.
Analyzing the Position
When playing defense in lacrosse, you will spend a lot of time in a breakdown position, with your stick out, trying to force your man to a predetermined area of the field. Why would you not practice this?
How can you possibly expect to master the drop step, sideways run, or top side approach if you do not practice it? That would be similar to a wide receiver not practicing his routes? Sounds silly doesn’t it.
You need to understand angles of pursuit and body position to succeed at this position. This is a skill that needs to be practiced, just like everything else.
6 Footwork Drills for Lacrosse Defensemen
Zig Zag 1 on 1
Hawk Drill (Sideways Variation)
Drop Step Drill
Consider adding each of these drills to your workout and be amazed how your footwork will improve. Also try using a weighted stick to improve your muscle memory, endurance and strength!
I always enjoy hearing your feedback in the comments section below. Ask me any questions and be sure to let me know how your game as a lacrosse defensemen has improved using these drills.