Playing defense in lacrosse is not about how fast or hard you can check an opponent. The best Major League Lacrosse long-poles, like the New York Lizards’ Ben Randall, are finesse players. They have developed an arsenal of checks — lifts, pokes, slaps, over-the-heads, ding-dongs — through hours and hours honing lacrosse stick checking skills. If you have dreams of protecting the crease at James M. Shuart Stadium one day, start practicing these Lizards-approved lacrosse drills today.
How to Improve your Lacrosse Stick Checking
Like many other fundamental lacrosse skills, stick checking is not very difficult to learn and fun to practice. By running through these drills on the regular, you will become a better defender in no time at all.
The Takeaway Teacher
This basic practice drill has long been a favorite of youth lacrosse coaches and defenders. It is easy, effective and requires nothing more than two lacrosse sticks and a goal.
How to Do It
- Hang a short stick on the netting of a lacrosse goal at or below head level
- Step back from the goal about two steps
- Pick up your long pole and start throwing checks at the hanging stick as if it were a ball carrier
The Takeaway Teacher is a drill that players can work on by themselves with little-to-no supervision. It helps defenders improve lacrosse stick checking techniques through repetition.
Hand Speed Drill
Fast hands is one of the reasons the New York Lizards defense is so good at stopping Major League Lacrosse opponents. It’s what helps them to protect the goal, strip ball carriers and make jaw-dropping yard sales.
How to Do It
To do the hand speed drill, you will need a friend, two lacrosse sticks and a pair of gloves.
- One teammate stands in front of the other with lacrosse gloves on their hands
- The player’s arms should be extended straight out from their body
- The other player moves their stick over the top of their teammate’s hands in an M-shaped motion
- Start with your stick on one side, touch between the other player’s gloves and then touch the opposite side from your starting position
- Try to do 20 repetitions of this lacrosse stick checking drill or repeat the motion for 30 seconds
- Next, follow the same steps but instead make the shape of the letter W
- Finally, do a set of Figure 8 motions around your teammate’s gloves
This no frills lacrosse drill helps you develop quick hands, which can help you make a bigger impact on the field.
Stick-free Defense Drill
To make a preponderance of takeaways, your feet must be in the right position first.
The best way to improve your defensive skills is forget about your stick for the time being. Instead, focus all your attention on your footwork.
How to Do It
- Pair up with a friend
- One player takes the ball
- The other drops their stick and plays defense with body position only
This drill teaches youth lacrosse players the importance of footwork, and how to position themselves between their man and the goal.