spider defense help in and out

Lax Lingo: “Spider” Defense- Help on the Back Side.

Today in Lax Lingo we want to talk about Defense, and especially defensive help from the back side. "Spider!" is a great new term we hear coaches using to communicate to Defenders when to move out to play their man with the ball, and when to move back in to help in the middle when the ball is away from their man. This is also a great way to introduce basic Team Defense to your players.

Instead of screaming uncertain terms like "Move!" and "Hustle!" from the sideline, it's important to use simple, direct terms that communicate to your players exactly what you want them to do.

This is a new one we have heard teams using all over the country. We're pretty sure we heard Dom Starsia (Virginia) and John Danowski (Duke) both using it on TV this weekend.

"Spider In!" on Defense:

If your Defenders aren't moving enough, if they are standing still, ball watching, etc., "Spider in!" and "Spider out!" is a quick and easy way to tell them not only to "Move!" but also how, when and where to move.

With all six guys moving from the middle out to the ball and back in to help, it creates the look of a spider in front of the goal. Each Defender will act as a "leg" of the spider, moving out to challenge the ball carrier, then back in to the "Hole" to help cover open Attackers in front of the goal as the ball moves to the opposite side of the field.

spider defense basic set up

Figure 1. Stopping the ball carrier is Job #1. Red 4 will move out when his man has the ball. Don't let him get "Top Side" to a good shooting position. Keep him out of the middle. Red 1 will "Spider in!" from the back side to help cover the middle while his man is far away from the ball. This is how Team Defense works.

  • Get out to the ball quickly so that you aren't lunging straight at the guy with the ball. Be in good, athletic body position, ready to drop step and stay in front of him. Take away the middle of the field.
  • "Squeeze" back in when you are guarding one of the adjacent Attackers next to the ball. Red 2 and Red 5 will start to move back to the middle. Keep sticks up in the passing lanes and "crowd the dodging lanes" on either side of the On-Ball Defender. The Attackers on either side of the ball could get a pass at any time, so be ready to get back out to cover them.

spider defense move out to help

Figure 2.) Red 1 "Spiders Out" to cover the ball as it moves toward the man he is guarding. Red 4 can "Spider in!" to the middle when the ball moves away from his man.

  • Red 4 would be the Second Slide, helping to cover any open Attackers in the middle if Red 3 slides from the Crease to stop the Ball. An open man in the middle is more dangerous than an open man on the other side of the field from the ball.

To practice this with your team, try this cool 5-on-4 Spider Defense Drill.

It doesn't matter if your team runs Man-to-Man or Zone Defense, they still need to know how to "Spider" in and out. Even in a Zone, your Defenders have to move out to the edges of their zones and back to the middle, depending on where the ball is. In fact, they should probably move more in a Zone Defense.

We also like to use the idea of "Ball", "One's" and "Two's" on Defense as an easy way to help players learn when to move out to stop the ball and when to be back in the middle, ready to help on Defense.

We love Defense here at Lax Library. We hope you can use this to help your players learn their "On-Ball" and "Off-Ball" Defensive Responsibilities. Defense! Defense! Defense!