Zone Defense

Man to Man Defense

“Offense Wins Games, Defense Wins Championships.”

In lacrosse, playing defense requires teamwork, communication and strategy. Teams typically employ either a man-to-man defensive scheme or some form of zone concept in an effort to deny the opposition scoring chances. While all defenses stem from the same two basic strategies and countless variations exist on the common themes there are some basics that apply to any defense.

The distinction that you want to make when establishing a team defense is where you want to slide from. A defenseman has to slide when the man covering the ball gets beat by the offensive ball carrier. Most teams will slide from the crease area (the d-man in front of the goal).

The other place you can slide from is defenseman who is covering the offensive player next to the ball carrier, otherwise known as “adjacent”. If playing man to man a team defense can only slide from the crease 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 it out. If another offensive player goes to the crease, then the defenseman covering him can call it out, typically you hear the call “I’m HOT”. One of the benefits of a zone defense is that the player in the crease area will always be there thus minimizing changing responsibilities.

Having the defensemen communicate where they are sliding from and when they are sliding helps tremendously. A good defense must be loud and communicate extremely well with each other. For higher levels it is effective to mix up where the slide comes from as it keeps the offense back on its heels. However that can sometimes cause more confusion then good. So be careful when trying to incorporate multiple defenses as sometimes a jack of all can be an expert of none.

Weather you are in a zone or a man defense when a man slides to the ball there needs to be a second slide. For instance, when a defenseman slides from the crease, then the man he leaves open on the crease needs to be covered. The player or players who cover that open crease man would be the second slide.

One general rule that players playing defense at the midfield 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. 

The man covering the ball must recover. If the man covering the ball gets beat and one of his teammates slides to the ball, the defensemen who was beat must pick up and open man, go back into the appropriate zone or if the strategy calls for it double the ball.

 No matter what defense you are in.. Zone, Man, Rotating box, Lock of Adjacent, Coma slides etc….. you must identify who is the first slide, who is the second slide and know how to recover when somebody gets beat.