stop and chop bad defense footwork

Lax Lingo: “Stop and Chop” (and how to stop it!)

Youth coaches everywhere struggle with beginning players that stop their feet and throw stick checks on defense, letting the man they are guarding run right past them. By teaching players to avoid this "Stop and Chop" behavior, you can correct their bad habits, and learn how to keep up with any opponent.


youth lacrosse defender out of position chasing

Every player on your team needs to know how to play good Body Defense. No matter if it's a Close Defender with a Long-Pole or a Riding Attackman, players at any position should learn correct defensive positioning and footwork.

In today's Lax Lingo, we want to talk about something you do not want your players to do: the "Stop and Chop!" We heard youth coaches using this term this past spring season, and it was getting instant results.

"Stop and Chop" is the bad habit that many younger players have of stopping their feet when they play Defense and throwing one stick check, or uncontrolled chop, as the guy with the ball runs right past them. This is a very common problem in beginning players, and one of the first that should be fixed.

By using this simple, direct term to correct players at practice, you can remind them to keep their feet, hips and hands moving on defense, to pursue the man with the ball.


Man-on-Man Defense is an individual responsibility, but it doesn't have to be difficult to teach. Here are 4 quick tips to help you get your players playing defense right!

1. Be in the correct position on the field.

one on one lacrosse

Keep players from chasing the ball by telling them to drop into the "Hole," the area 5-10 yards in front of the goal. Defenders should stay between the ball and the goal and play defense "from Inside-Out," taking away the middle of the field and forcing the ball down the "Alley" or behind Goal Line Extended (GLE).

2. Defense starts from the bottom up--feet, hips, then hands.

Correct body positioning and pursuit footwork is key to defense. Tell players to keep a wide stance to stay strong on their feet, "get low" with their hips, and "push" with their hands. Pursue the man with the ball wherever he goes.

3. "Whoever gets lowest wins."

Control the opponent's hips! Every move--from a quick shot to roll back--begins at the hips. Teach your players to get low and get their hands on their opponent's hips to turn and push him away from the goal.

4. The stick check is your LAST option.

Feet, Hips, Hands first. Stick is last. Players will only be in the right position to throw good checks without losing their body position by following the 3 tips above. While takeaway checks are exciting, they don't happen as often as defenders would like.

By teaching your players these basic defensive tips and reminding them not to "Stop and Chop!" at practice, you'll help them find success on individual defense. Once they see improvement in one area, they will be motivated to apply the same effort to find success in other parts of their game.

Defense requires Heart and Hustle.

Get them started on a win streak at practice! Especially at the youth level, and even in high-school, developing well-rounded athletes is one of the most important things you do as a coach.

Let us know if you these tips help you build some really good, physical Defenders on your team. Defense! Defense! Defense!