This is one of the most common mistakes we see new and inexperienced players make all the time, and one that can lead to easy Fast Break Goals for the other team! But make this one simple fix, and you should see your entire Defense playing much better next game!
We're still re-watching lots of MLL and PLL games from this summer, and occasionally we see the same common mistakes, even at the Pro level, even during Playoff time! And we thought, "if the pros are still doing it, we better talk about it to all our teams." Youth, high school, college, Men's and Women's, the Riding/Re-Defending principles are all the same.
The "Ride" is your first line of Defense.
The three Attackmen in your offensive end of the field should always pressure the ball, and make it difficult for the Defense to Clear the ball away from their own Goal. A fast, aggressive Ride can force lots of Turnovers and bad passes out of bounds. Create extra scoring opportunities for your team when you get the ball right back, close to the goal! For this reason, your Attackman need the same basic defensive footwork, body position, approach, and pursuit skills as all the rest of your players!
- Related: Teach all your players good Body Defense with the old fashioned "Bucket Game"!
Don't make it easy for the other team!
A bad or disorganized Ride, however, can give your opponent easy 4-on-3 Fast Break and 5-on-4 Slow Break transition goals over and over. A good Riding team might not take the ball away every time, but they also don't give up easy scoring opportunities when the other team gets the ball. Instead, make sure all your players hustle back on Defense, slow down the other team, and force them to score difficult 6-on-6 goals against your full-strength, organized Defense.
- Related: Teach all your players to get back in the "Hole" and play Defense "from Inside-Out" with the classic "T-Shirt" Drill!
Rule #1: Do NOT Slide "Up Field" when you Ride.
All your players, especially Midfielders, should be moving sideways or backwards to get back on Defense. Riding is all about calculated, strategic pressure in the middle of the field, with a defensive mindset to always get back and be ready to play good 6-on-6 Team Defense.
Check out our tips below to teach your players this important game situation, so they know how to avoid these simple mistakes.
HERE'S THE PLAY!
Figure 1.) This is a common Ride situation where this problem occurs most often. It doesn't matter if you're using a basic Man-on-Man Ride, or something more complex, like the "21" Attack Ride or the common 3-3 Deep Zone Ride. Usually a Midfielder or a Defender gets open with the ball on the sideline, adjacent to the Goalie.
Right here is where many younger players (Red 1) are tempted to run forward and challenge the ball, sliding "Up Field," away from their own goal, and triggering a disastrous chain of events that usually ends in giving up a short-handed goal at the other end of the field.