"Approaches" are SO hot right now. We're spending lots of time focusing on Defense in practice this summer, and this is one of our all-time favorite small group defensive drills: footwork, stick work, 1-on-1's, all at the same time!
"DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS!"
Defense is often overlooked by many coaches. It can be a difficult concept to understand, and even harder to teach. 1-on-1 Individual and Team Defense are critical concepts for your players to understand. Any youth or high school player that has solid, fundamental defensive techniques, skills, and IQ will be an asset for any team they want to play on. After all, being a good Defender is really just about hard work and dedication.
THE "ABCD's" OF INDIVIDUAL DEFENSE
"Approach" is the "A" of good 1-on-1 Defense. Many college coaches are spending a ton of time on Approaches the last few years. Use this drill to stop the most basic mistakes before they happen. If your players don't get a good start from Step 1, "Approaching the Ball", anything they or the rest of the team does on Defense after that is almost irrelevant. On the other hand, your whole team won't have to "Slide!" and "Recover!" nearly as often if your On-Ball Defenders are hard to beat. And they'll be pretty hard to beat if they're always under control and in the right position any time they approach the ball!
RULE #1 ON DEFENSE: "STICKS UP!"
This simple drill reinforces several key defensive concepts for on-ball and off-ball defensive responsibilities: Approach and Breakdown Footwork (A & B of the "ABCD's), 1-on-1 Dodging Defense, Off-Ball Positioning and Recovery, and "Sticks Up!" in the Passing Lanes, all at the same time! No wonder we love it so much! Defense! Defense! Defense!
HERE'S THE DRILL:
Start your players in groups of four (4). You can do this drill anywhere on the field, or to the goal.
Start three players in a triangle 15-20 meters apart, with the fourth player in the middle. The player at the top or point of the triangle will be the Dodger, while the player in the middle will be the Defender.
Figure 1.) Pass the ball to the "Dodger" (Blue 1) to start the drill. When the ball moves to his man, Defender Red 1 will:
- (A) Approach the ball quickly, but under control, with his stick up and out in front,
- (B) Break Down to stop in front of the Dodger with the ball, prepared to change direction,
- (C) Make Contact with a Poke, Lift, of Slap Check on the gloves, or a push with the hands.
Blue 1 can make a little Dummy Dodge to avoid the contact and protect his stick to make the drill a little more challenging and realistic, rather than just standing still.