Team Defense

The most important distinction that you want to make when setting up a defense is where you want your defensemen to slide from. A defenseman has to slide when the person covering the ball gets beat by the ball carrier. The area in which many defenses slide from is the crease. Many programs call this out as “crash”, meaning the defenseman on the crease is going to slide.

The other place you can slide from is the adjacent man or the defenseman who is covering the offensive player next to the ball carrier. This type of sliding package can be called “near-man” because the nearest defenseman is sliding to the ball. Obviously, a team defense can only slide from the crease or crash when there is an offensive player on the crease. If this offensive player slides off the crease in the middle of a play, that defenseman must call out, “I’m off! We’re near man!” If another offensive player goes to the crease, then the defenseman covering him can call out, “We’re crash! I’m going!”


Having the defensemen communicate what slide package they are in and saying if they are sliding helps tremendously. The best defenses in lacrosse are loud and communicate extremely well with each other and with the goalie. For the intermediate level, these are the only two slide packages that you need to use. It is effective to mix up where the slide comes from as it keeps the offense back on its heels.

When a man slides to the ball, there are a number of things that need to happen. First and foremost, there needs to be a second slide. For instance, when a defenseman slides from the crease or goes crash, then the man he leaves open on the crease needs to be covered. If the defense covers off-ball plays the way they are supposed to, then the crease attackman should be surrounded by a few defensemen.

The player who is most responsible for the second slide is the defenseman who is farthest from the ball. So, if the offense is in a 1-3-2 formation, and the ball carrier is dodging from up top, then the defenseman who is covering the man at X (behind the goal) should have the second slide. In other words, he is responsible for covering the crease when a slide is made. If the ball carrier is dodging from behind and the defenseman from the crease slides, then one of the midfielders from up top has the second slide.

One rule that defensive midfielders must always follow is that they should always be as low as the ball when it is in front of the net and close to the crease when it is behind goal line extended. This means that if they are covering a man off-ball, then they should always stay at the same level as the ball. If the ball is behind, then they should be down on the crease, not covering their man all the way up top. This helps a team tremendously as they slide, help and recover.

Recovering Fast

Another thing that must happen when a team slides is that the man covering the ball must recover. If the man covering the ball gets beat and one of his teammate’s slides to the ball, then the defenseman who was beat must get back to the crease immediately. When he gets to the crease, he looks away from ball and picks up the open man returning the defense to a soft man-on-man. Recovering fast as a defense is a very important aspect of the sliding game.

The other distinction that must be made in a defensive scheme is how much pressure the off-ball players are putting on their men. There are a number of different defensive calls for this pressure. The two that are important for the intermediate level are hard and soft.

South Beach calls their hard pressure defense “Badger” as in "Honey Badger". In Badger, the defense puts off-ball pressure on the two offensive players who are adjacent to the ball. In the soft defense, the defense puts very little pressure on the off-ball players and sloughs in. One thing to realize is that in Badger, you cannot slide near-man as those two defensemen who are next to the ball are pressing out on their men. Thus, you always have to be crash when you are in Badger. If the offense pulls their man off the crease, then the defense should call out “Soft!” so that they can slide near-man. The Badger defense is good to use against teams that are less skilled offensively as it will pressure them into throwing the ball away. Against the better offensive teams, it is more effective to play soft, as their offensive skills can exploit the Badger defense. The more a defense is spread out and pressuring, the longer their slides are going to be and the longer it is going to take to recover. Against a team that can pass skillfully and quickly, this is a harder defense to run. Just like slide packages though, it is effective to mix up what type of pressure is applied to keep the offense guessing.

Some great tips to get you going:

Move to Meet the Pass

Always move to meet every pass, and circle away from your defenseman.

Away From the Defense

In moving the ball around the circle, make all passes sharp, short, and to the outside, away from the defense man.

Time Your Cuts

Time your cuts, don't cut if the man with the ball is not watching or not in position to pass.

Don’t Rush at Him

Don't rush at a man when riding - particularly behind the goal. Force him to pass - force him in the direction where there is help. Talk all the time and run hard. The success of an attack depends on their riding ability and their desire to have the ball.

Give and Go

After receiving a pass, as the ball moves around the outside, look first at the man who threw you the ball to see what he is doing, then at the crease.

After the Pass

If you receive a pass after cutting and haven't got a good shot, hold onto the ball.

Crease Play

On every screen shot the crease man should check-up on the defense man's stick, and immediately face the goalie, so that he is ready to bat in a rebound.

Keep Proper Spacing

Never stand so close together that one defense can cover two offense.

Never Stand Still

When you have the ball, never stand still - keep moving all the time - if necessary run backwards and forwards - but keep moving. When you are ready to make a pass, take one step back quickly and move. If you are standing still, you're wrong.

After the Clear

After the ball has been cleared, if you have a wide open opportunity to dodge, do it. If you are sure a man is open, pass to him, otherwise settle the ball down and let your attack get set up. Remember, after a clear the midfielders will need time to catch their breath. Middies rest on offense, not defense, Control The Ball!

Balance the Field

Always keep your field balanced in order that you stay in better position to back up, and give your teammates space to work in.

Make Passes Hard

Make feed passes hard.

Make Him Play You

Make your defenseman play you and you alone every second you are in the game. Keep moving all the time so that he must center his attention on you an not be in position to help out his fellow defensemen.

Outside Shooting

On all long shots, a man must be on the crease.

Move the Ball

Don't dodge if there is an open man. Don't hold the ball long unless you are planning a dodge. Keep it moving with quick, short passes.

Make Good Passes

Take pains to make every pass a good pass.

Get it Off the Ground

After picking up a loose ball, turn and face the crease immediately. If nobody is open, move in fast until you are picked up.

Ride Hard

When you lose the ball, ride it. The close attack must ride and ride hard until the ball is past midfield.

Don’t Force it

Never try to force in, with the ball or by a pass, if the defense is drawn in. Pull them out first.

Circle Away From Pressure

Always move to meet every pass, and circle away from your defenseman.