Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/28/08
By Lacrosse Evolution
Tom Slate, coach of the San Francisco Dragons of Major League Lacrosse, and 2007 state champion Downingtown East, offered a question-and-answer segment on assessing defenders for the Lax Tip of the Week by Lacrosse Evolution.
Question: What is the first thing you look for in a young defenseman?
Answer: “I think you look right away at his physical skills, Foot Work, Size, athleticism etc. It is real important for any defenseman to have great Foot work. For the simple reason when you’re playing defense you’re reacting to what your opponent is doing. He knows when he is going to make a cut and you don’t there for it is way harder to play defense than offense and having really good footwork is key to be able to stay with your opponent.”
Question: When you are picking your four defenseman to start for a team do you take three, one on one defenders or do you like to have an off ball guy to help the team Defense?
Answer: “I think looking at it I typically like this model below:
*Two one-on-one defensemen; referable one of them being a little bigger to cover the bigger attackmen and maybe likes to be physical when he slides
The other one-on-one guy will need to a little quicker to cover the small COD (Change of direction) attack men
*I definitely like a defenseman that plays off ball real well. He needs to have a great understanding of the defense. He needs to be a vocal leader and understand when to slide and when not too.
*Goalie should be able to help with this as well.
*LSM- my favorite position out of the four – he needs to be very athletic, play the ground ball very well off the face off and needs a great stick. Also, needs to be able to push the break in transition.”
Question: What types of individual drills do you like doing with your defenseman?
Answer: “We call them, ‘Holds.’ We partner up with another defenseman and start at goal line extended on either side of the net right by the crease. One defenseman is playing defense, breaking down and focuses on foot work, stick and body position. His partner is acting like an attackman and runs in a straight line at goal line extended for 3-to-5 yards back and forth for 30-to-60 seconds. This helps to build muscle memory for the defenseman.”
Question: What types of team drills do you like doing to help your team defense?
Answer: “I like to run the Drexel Drill (got it from Chris Bates, head coach of Drexel). We play six on six, except all 6 defenseman are in the crease jogging around the perimeter. The offense is set in there formation, throwing the ball around waiting for the whistle. When you blow the whistle, all 6 defenseman run out to a man. Communication is key at this part of the drill. The offense can shoot as soon as they hear the whistle. After we are matched up we play six-on-six. At any point the coach can blow the whistle, and whoever is on ball goes and touches the restraining or end line. Then the defense reacts. Great drill to promote communication and deal with game situations in practice. Here at our training facility we have developed a really great foot work program geared for lacrosse players. We really focus on helping the lacrosse athlete learn to run with their stick, understanding body positioning when you’re playing defense or dodging, etc.”
Question: What do you think of the multisport athlete?
Answer: “I couldn’t agree more with kids playing two or three sports during the year. Whatever your No. 1 sport is, there isn’t much you can do to substitute training five or six days a week in the fall for the spring or winter to help your No. 1 out.”