It’s not up to you to score goals or rack up assists. Your job is to limit your opponent’s ability to do so. And while the job of a defender rarely brings glory or a stuffed stat sheet, you help your team with what matters most: earning Ws.
The Georgia Bulldogs know a thing or two about defending. They gave up only 19 total goals on their way to compiling an 18-4-2 record and reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
According to head coach Patrick Baker, some success resulted from the work they put into 1v1 situations. “In 1v1, a defender must be able to close quickly, position herself correctly and have good footwork to stop the attacking player,” Baker says. “We like to use the Channel Drill to work on this skill. It replicates what takes place in the game, and we can get more reps in that situation.”
Baker explains the Channel Drill, something the Bulldogs perform once a week throughout the season.
Channel Drill [see diagram for set-up]
· Attacker begins between Cones 1 and 2
· Defender begins between Cones 3 and 4
· Defender serves ball to attacker
· With ball, attacker tries to cross line of Cones 3 and 4
· Defender closes in on attacker and tries to steal, tackle or toe kick ball out of channel
· Close in on the attacker until she gets a good first touch. Then begin jockeying for position and channeling.
· Since the attacker is approaching at full speed, you need to decelerate properly and channel her in one direction or the other. Don’t get beat by pace.
· If the option of tackling presents itself, time it to make sure you get a piece of the ball.
· Ideally, try channeling the attacker in the direction of her less dominant foot.
· If the attacker gets by you, the drill is not over. Keep going until the attacker crosses the line.