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Defensive Footwork Mobile Progression

 

DRILL OBJECTIVE(S) TRAIN DEFENSIVE FOOTWORK, CHANNELING AND TACKLING SKILLS
PLAYERS 2+ PLAYERS
SPACE 15m x 15m
EQUIPMENT 1+ BALLS, 6 CONES

EXPLANATION:

Stage 1: No stick, no ball
  • O initiates play/movement by running up towards X.
  • As soon as O moves, X begins to run into the grid, changing direction and running towards the dashed line.
  • O approaches X and changes direction to pick up X’s speed, attempting to get within Engaging Distance and establish and maintain a position on a 45 degree angle on the inside of the field (forcing away from the angle of the dashed line).
  • X continues to change direction, and O maintains pressure and stays in engaging distance without getting too close to X.
  • O keeps X at this distance, on same side of body, as X moves forward, until X crosses the dashed line. 
Stage 2: Stick and ball, no tackle (diagram 2)
  • O initiates play/movement by passing to X.
  • X carries the ball forward into the grid, attempting to cross dashed line with possession.
  • O moves forward aggressively to put pressure on the ball carrier as early as possible (as high in the grid as possible) without overrunning the play.
  • O moves into Engaging Distance of X, and moves with the ball carrier, directing the play away from the inside of the field.
  • As X changes direction and attempts to eliminate the ball carrier, O maintains Engaging Distance and consistent angle of pressure.O maintains this position, moving with ball carrier all the way across the dashed line. 
Stage 3: Full Live Defence (diagram 2)
  • Drill starts the same way as Stage 2 (O passes the ball to X).
  • O pressures X as early as possible, establishing and maintaining Engaging Distance from the attacker.
  • O attempts to tackle/win possession and clear the ball to the other O on the outside. 

COACHING POINTS:

  • *Key defensive principles of Speed-Angle-Distance apply here.
  • **Engaging Distance will typically be 1.5 stick lengths (1.5m) from attacker - but this can vary based on reach, speed, and skill.
  • The defender looks to apply pressure as early as possible, to prevent attacker from advancing uncontested. This involves an early sprint forward, and then breaking down footwork to smaller steps when approaching the attacker. It is critical to avoid over-running the play (getting too close to, or past, the attacker and getting eliminated).
  • Angle of approach is important. Defender should always be aware of his defensive line, and protecting the most dangerous lane for a pass (usually the inside of the field - that is why this drill is set up on an angle as such). O’s approaching run should be arced, to encourage the attacker to move in the desired direction.
  • Footwork must be adjusted so that the defender can stay with the attacker - this will require that the defender does not always shuffle sideways, but instead must sometimes reach a full run to match attacker’s speed. A good reference point is that the defender’s feet should be angled so that one foot is forward, the other back at all times (feet should not be squared up with hips facing attacker).
  • Stick angle/position: Stick may be held in jab position or block position, but should mainly be held in left hand to allow full mobility and balance.
  • Patience: Along with the physical and technical points of this drill, choosing the correct time to tackle is key. Defender should resist the temptation to tackle early if attacker has good control of the ball and good vision (this will lead to defender being eliminated). Defender should apply pressure from good engaging distance, and apply pressure to force the attacker into a difficult position, and then tackle when the ball is exposed or the attacker has limited options.

EVALUATION:

  • In Stage 1, the defender should have a difficult time maintaining consistent engaging distance, because attacker will be quicker without the ball.
  • In Stage 2, defender must develop the discipline to maintain pressure in engaging distance all the way through the line, even though he will be fatiguing as the attacker moves forward. If attacker carries ball directly at defender, O should back up, maintaining angled front/back position of feet and hips. Direct the play and pressure the ball, BUT DO NOT TACKLE!
  • In Stage 3: by this point, hopefully the defender’s footwork and angles are correct, and so the most important aspect here is decision-making. Defender should be successful 75% of the time here if he is patient, pressures well and tackles at the correct time.

 

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