“Ball-Watching” Can Wreck Your Defense

Youth and beginning lacrosse players make a few common mistakes all the time that can wreck the Defense for your entire team. Luckily there are simple solutions to fix the problem!

If you are working with younger or beginning players, teaching Defense can seem like pulling teeth. You will probably spend entire games playing Defense while the other team runs and passes the ball around you in circles, scoring goal after goal.

Just one player standing in the middle watching the ball move around the field ("Ball-Watching") is all it takes to wreck your entire defense, making it harder for all the other players on your team. They think they are helping cover the middle, but really they are leaving a man open all the time.

Teach your players good "Man-on-Man Defense". If you recognize the problem, you can give your players the solution! Give them the skills to be successful at the youth, high school and even college level if you teach them properly now. You can't play Zone Defense if you can't play Man.


ball watching lacrosse defense

Figure 1.) "Ball-Watching" leaves the back door open for cutters! If Red 2 is busy watching the ball, he is not watching the man he is guarding (Blue 2) cut to the middle. Don't give up easy goals by letting unguarded players walk into the Crease!

Teach good body position! Red 2 should be in a position on the field where he can "See Man, See Ball!" at the same time. Drop into the middle to be able to see both without having to turn your head. This also helps your players get into position to "Slide!" and help stop the ball if necessary.

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  • "Organize!" Your Defense: Make sure all your players "Match Up!" Man-on-Man. Every player on the other team should be covered by one of your Defenders in between their man and the goal.
  • "Numbers!" Make sure your players are calling out the number of the man they are guarding so everybody knows who they are covering.
  • Play Small-Sided Games in Practice! It's easier for younger players to understand how to match up and stay with their man in 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 games before they can do it in 6-on-6 during games.