Defensive Lacrosse Approaches/Breakdowns and Why They’re So Important

Xcelerate Nike Lacrosse National Program Director, Brian Lalley, discusses, Defensive Lacrosse Approaches/Breakdowns and Why They’re So Important:

As you progress through your lacrosse career, you’ll be constantly reminded on the importance of footwork to being a good lacrosse player at every position. The concept of approaches and breakdowns in regards to defensive skill and understanding is most definitely rooted in good footwork. Make sure you’re always working to improve this part of your athletic development.

Approaches and breakdowns are rooted in the core concept that we protect the center area of the field close to the net as a defensive unit. Most coaches and teams have a term for this area (the heart, the hub, the ship, etc.) Defenders off the ball are responsible for playing off his/her offensive player and congest this area of the field and cover any threatening cutters. The further an off-ball defender is from the ball, the further in to the crease area he or she will generally play, creating more distance from his/her offensive player.

A good offense will work to quickly get the ball to the back side as they know those players have more space to get a re-attack with space from his/her defender. This space is the price we pay to properly cover the crease area and not allow high percentage opportunities. Approaching this re-attacking player at a good angle to not allow the middle of the field and in a low and balanced position is critical to preventing a great opportunity on this re-dodge.

Keys to improving your breakdowns and approaches:

  • Improving anything involves building habits through consistent behaviors. Develop a daily routine to improve areas of your game.
  • Improve your speed and footwork to allow you to close the space and react quickly to changes of direction from the ball carrier
  • Prioritize communication as your job is to keep the re-attacking player from getting the middle of the field. A defense who communicates can allow individuals to focus on doing his/her job and operate as a unit.
  • Keep your head on a swivel so you know where your player is and to anticipate when the ball is heading in his/her direction.
  • Keep your stick in the passing lane to prevent skip passes. If the offense has to make multiple passes to get the ball to the back side, that will give you more time to close the gap.
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