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Tip of the Week #3

Posted Sunday, January 04, 2009 by Cliff Hedges

This weeks TIP OF THE WEEK will focus on Defense.  I am planning on spending  time on this during the season, we have to become a high pressure defense machine.

Stick and Body Positioning: Proper positioning is one of the most important keys to becoming a great defender.  Remember we all play defense. Proper positioning allows for good body defense, clean checks,  and forced turnovers: 

  • Body: Always maintain an athletic position.  Legs should be shoulder width apart and knees should be bent.  The upper body should be "BIG" (was talking to Jill about this today) Do not shrink down or bend over. Even our shortest players are twice as tall when they play big.
  • Stick: When playing defense, the defender's stick should be almost vertical, NOT horizontal.  If the stick is up, there is a better chacne of knocking a ball down or getting a check off.  A defender is also less likely to get a foul called against them if their stick is vertical( kinda like hoops)  I have noticed we have a bad habit of reaching across on checks, WILL ALWAYS GET CALLED.
  • Feet: Defenders should be light on their feet and ready to move in any direction.  Weight should b eon the toes, not the heels.
Body Defense: A defender's focus should be on playing SOLID BODY DEFENSE.  To play defense is to focus on the opposing attacker and stay in front of her( talke to Allie B about this during hoop game) You should not be concerned with going for checks.  Good body defense can happen by doing the following:
  • Eyes on the Hips: One of the best ways to play good body defense is to watch the attackers hips( I know Coach Dave tells you basically the same thing when defending in basketball) Unlike the attacker's eyes, stick, head or shoulders, HER HIPS DO NOT LIE!
  • Light on your Feet: Be ready to move side to side quickly. Watch your attackers's hips and beat her to the spot that she is trying to go, will piss her off.
  • Avoid Wild Check(SWEET JESUS) With good body defense, it is not necessary to worry about checking.  I can't say this enough, too many players try to check when if they were in good body position would accomplish so much more. Good body defense will cause the attacker to make mistakes and turnover the ball on their own, and that is were we will capitalize!  Sometimes with good body defense, checks will come naturally.  It is ok to check. BUT DO NOT SACRAFICE BODY POSITIONING FOR A CHECK( We do this alot, must get more confindent at body defense)
  • Contain the attacker: Part of good body defense is keeping the attacker contained.  This means that the defender is in control, not the attacker. I know you remember me saying time and time again, we contro the pace of the game, as defenders we control where the attackers go.  Force her to one side and do not allow her to move wherever she wants. Be Physical and quick on your feet( Talk to Jill about this also, she will become a mean machine, in that quite big girl body)
Where to force:  Defense is a team game. As such, when a defender is "one on one" with an attacker, they should force the attacker toward the defender's other teammates( WE LOVE DBL TEAMS), Many people like to force attackers to their weak hand.  This can be effective depending on the skills of the attacker and where  the defenders help is.  However, if there is not a defender  to help in that direction, I recommend that the defender forces to help instead.
  • Force to Help:  Forcing to help is to physically force the attacker to the defenders teammates (Maddy Dowd is very good at this).  To force an attacker to help, a defender MUST step up to the side that they do not want the attacker to go.  Whenever step up and force and attacker one way it can be scary because you are essentially giving them space to beat you the other way.  This is why it is very important for your teammates to SLIDE EARLY and strongly.
  • Step Up:  When a defender "steps up" to one side of an attacker, they essentially use thier body as a road block. The defender should try to position their body and stick so that the attacker cannot go around them.  It is ok to get beat to the side that the defender is fourcing the attacker too.  However, try not to over commit.  You do not want to make it easy for the attacker
  • Expect the Roll Back:  Whenever a defender forces an attacker to their weak hand or into pressure, they must be prepared for the attacker to "roll back", either to their strong hadn our out of pressure.  The defenders job is not over once they have forced the attacker to help.  The need to be prepared for the attacker to try to roll out of pressure; the defender needs to force her back to the defender's teammate (HIGH PRESSURE DEFENSE, Just being strong, confindent and in thier face)
Communicate where to fource:  One of our biggest weaknesses is Communication, we have to learn to communicate with our teammates. Communcation is one of the most important parts of effectively forcing  a player to help. It is primarily the responsibility of the defender who is adjacent to the ball to tell her teammate where she is and where to force.  However, every player on the field should be aware of which way to force and should constantly communicate this to her teammates.  This becomes extremly important if a team tries to run an "isolation", which is to clear one side of the 8m to allow an attacker to go 1 v 1.  In this situation, it is up to everyone who sees the iso to communicate to their teammates wher help is.  Some examples:
  • Force Left/Right- In this phrase the direction referst to tht of the defender/GK looking up field.  To force right is to force the attacker to the defenders right.  To force an attacker right is to force the attacker to their left hand.  To force and attacker left  is to force them to their right hand.
  • Force Back: This term is helpful in double team situations.  I recommend that you use "Force Left/Right" unless you are in a clear dbl team situation. In this case, "force back" implies that a supporting defender needs the "on-ball" defender to step up to the attacker and force her into the opposite direction.
  • Force Up/ Down-  These directions are used when a player attacks from behind the net.  "Force Up" is to keep the attacker going up the 8m, away from the goal, if you remember the drill where we meet them at the crease and force outwards.
Ok that is it for this week;  We will continue to focus on Defense next week and discuss my favorite thing.  Double Team and Sliding.

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