In lacrosse, playing the position of defense is based on technique and foot positioning. Defensemen must adjust and react to the offensive player's moves. The man with the ball always knows his next move. It's up to the defenseman to catch on to it, but if he catches on too late, he may cost his team a goal. However, a seasoned defenseman can direct his opponent to an area of his choosing and get help from his teammates.
Below, I describe sliding to an opponent who happens to be dodging from X (the area behind the goal). This can be explained in a three-step process. We've included pictures of Johns Hopkins defenseman Jack Reilly demonstrating the process to perfection against a Georgetown attackman in a scrimmage this fall.
Step 1: Trail your attackman from X, as you're one step behind him. Stay one step behind him with your stick fully extended up field. This will create a funnel, which gives you control as you direct him where to go. Trailing your attackman allows you to stay balanced, dictating your opponent’s motion.
Step 2: Without overstepping your attackman, get topside of him. This is critical. If your attackman gets topside at Goal Line Extended (GLE), then potential slides from the crease are foiled. Remember, you want to be in control and force him toward your help.
Step 3: Force him under. By now, you've forced him to roll back. As he rolls back, he's going to think he has an open lane to the goal. He's mistaken. As he approaches the goal, your slide is awaiting him on the crease. The slide will either be from the crease or it will be a COMA slide, which is a slide from across the crease. Depending on your defensive scheme, you may find yourself sliding from both angles during the course of a game.
This is perfect team defense. The goalie should be pointing out where the ball is at all times, while also signifying who is about to slide. As a defenseman, it's difficult to know where your man is dodging. That is exactly why you need to approach your man as if you're directing traffic. Create an illusion for him. Make him go one way. Once you've positioned your body and forced him one way, you've made it easier for your teammates to know who's sliding and where they will rotate.
Thomas Alford is the co-founder and social media manager of LacrossePlayground.com, a digital media magazine covering lacrosse equipment, apparel and lifestyle. A former midfielder at the University of Maryland, Alford is a Washington, D.C. native, a non-profit consultant and an assistant coach at Gonzaga College High School. He can be found on Twitter at @ThomasAlford33.