Becoming a Dominate Defenseman

defenseman lacrosse Apr 06, 2021

BTB Lax coach Jesse Miller

It’s hard being a defenseman

Mostly, cuz it's boring practicing on your own.

Unlike an offensive player… you can’t just roll out a bag of balls and start rippin’ shots.

The best lacrosse defenders have a full set of skills.

This includes...

Solid stick skills to 1.) throw & catch and 2.) get the ball off the ground.

Good mobility and quickness to keep offensive players in check.

Acute Lacrosse IQ to execute team defensive strategies

Good conditioning & strength.

Some defenders can contribute on the offensive end as well.  

Let's walk through each skill and break it down.

Addressing your stick skills is easy.

(Just follow my suggestions here.) 

Addressing your conditioning and strength is easy as well.

As Cal Newport says, set up a program and EXECUTE.

(Just follow my suggestion here.) 

Increasing your Lacrosse IQ is easy as well.

Start watching more games.  Follow people who know the game.  Watch film with your coaches.

Addressing your mobility and quickness is more difficult to tackle...

Yes, there are drills you can do.

(I’ll be releasing a defensive program this spring that provides some great stuff.)

But, let’s be honest, going out to the field and doing footwork drills is boring.

… especially if you’re relying on your self-motivation.

It’s one thing to do some footwork drills in practice, but it’s harder to execute those on a consistent basis on your own.

So I’ve been thinking about the best ways to address on your mobility and quickness on a CONSISTENT BASIS.

I have two suggestions…


Play basketball.

Even if you don’t normally play hoops, I want you to start… get to the court once a week.

And when you do, really focus on guarding your guy and keeping him in front of you… preventing him from getting to the basket.

Guard different types of players… fast guys… big guys… strong guys.  

Really mix it up.  

Then after each session, do a postmortem.

(A postmortem is any examination or discussion that takes place after an event.)

Do this week after week.

Get you buddies. 

Get a ball. 

Go to the court.

Play for an hour or so.

If your buddies aren’t around… go to your local court and start playing with random people.  

(I still this now for my dunking quest and to get better mobility for tennis.)

It’ll really help.


Schedule 1v1 sessions with an offensive player.

Every week, go to a field with a buddy and do 1v1’s.

Start off at half speed where you experiment with throwing stick checks while running.

Then ramp up the intensity so that you’re eventually going full speed.

Do these from all angles on the field.

Don’t get discouraged if you get beat.

Simply get ready for the next run.

After each session, do a postmortem.

This only has to take an hour or so.

But do it every week.

If you’re in season, then stay after practice one day and do it for 30 minutes.

After you’re done, then just have fun shooting on net… casually build your confidence with handling the ball and making offensive moves.

This will help you in game scenarios when you’re in transition, etc.

Getting in the habit of scoring in practice will help you in games.

Again, have fun with it.

Here’s the thing, I was a late bloomer.

To be honest, I didn’t do enough of this stuff.

Then again, no one ever told me exactly the steps on what I needed to do.

But after coaching for so long… it’s actually pretty straightforward on how to improve.

It’s the execution of focused tasks on a consistent basis.