Even though half the job of a lacrosse midfielder is to play defense, most youth players spend a disproportionate amount of time improving their stick skills. If your defensive play has been lacking, these five tips are designed to help you become a more complete middie.
Defensive Tips for a Short Stick Lacrosse Midfielder
1. Footwork is your First Priority
In order to cover all corners of the field, midfielders need to have excellent footwork. It gives them the ability to keep pace with opponents who twist and turn in the open field.
While not every lacrosse midfielder receives the gift of amazing speed or agility, developing great footwork is something every player can do.
Try working exercises like these into your routine:
- Jump Rope
2. Watch your Opponent’s Waist
When you are playing defense as a midfielder, it’s easy to get thrown off by misdirected body movements of lacrosse dodges that aim to deceive.
The one easy trick to not getting beat on defense is to watch an opponent’s waist. While their stick may go one way and their feet another, a player’s waist gives the best indication of where they will really go.
3. Control the Situation
For a lacrosse midfielder to be an effective defender, they need to be in control of their opponent. By learning to establish proper body position on the field, a defensive middie can force their opponent to go in one direction or another. Middies who use this technique to force players to use their weak hand is likely to earn more playing time.
In games and in practice, youth lacrosse players should also focus on pushing the ball carrier towards the sidelines where they have less of a chance to create scoring opportunities. This strategy saves goals, because it’s easy to recover from getting beat down the sideline rather than in the center of the field.
4. Limit Stick Checks
Everyone loves to check, but good lacrosse defense isn’t all about checking. It’s more important to defend an opposing player with your feet and body. Players who go for homerun checks get beat more often than not.
A good defensive drill for young players to practice is playing without sticks. This teaches the importance of footwork and body position.
Then after that, focus on using basic checks, like the poke and the lift, sparingly. But, remember a defensive lacrosse midfielder’s main job is to contain their opponent, not take the ball away.
5. Communication is Key
Like any team sport, communication is crucial in lacrosse.
With 10 players on a side, lacrosse teams need to play in unison to win. As they transition from offense to defense, middies especially benefit from clear communication. Whether they are calling out their man or calling out a switch, there can never be too much chatter in team defense.
Although playing defense may not be a middies’ most glorious job, players who can effectively cover an opponent are always in high demand.