The following post is adapted from “Building the Modern Defender,” a US Lacrosse coaching resource written by Johns Hopkins women’s coach Janine Tucker. Purchase a copy through the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program online store today.

We have developed four types of defenders in which, based on our players’ skill sets and capabilities, they seem to fall. We want our players to be proud of their style and embrace how they fit into our defensive unit.

Ask your players, “What kind of defender do you want to be?” and let them know you will help them develop the skill sets to become that player.

These four types of defenders are not mutually exclusive. Ideally, every defender has a bit of each of these four types in them.

We encourage them to find their niche and bring their strengths to the table each day. The defensive unit needs to know what you can be counted on for and what you can be trusted with. The unit will cover each other’s weaknesses and will play to each other’s strengths.

Rock-Solid Defender

There is no flashy play with this defender. She does her job and does it well all the time. She is dependable, solid and steady. She anticipates well and knows her fellow defenders’ tendencies. She is always ready to cover them. She knows her role and executes it to the best of her ability.

Takeaway/Shutdown Defender

One-on-one defense is her strength. She is physical, aggressive and in control. Her teammates know that when she locks onto the ball carrier, she will not need a slide because she always gets her opponent. This defender has a wicked check that is precise and effective. She can take the ball away cleanly and consistently maintains good defensive position.

Risk-taking/Playmaking Defender

She has great anticipation and plays with a sense of urgency. She wants to get the ball back and is willing to take a higher risk to do so. She chases down ground balls and explodes to the ball to go for interceptions. Her teammates expect this and cover her when she takes a risk.

Communicator/Quarterback Defender

She sees the big picture well and is constantly talking. Directing her teammates comes naturally for her; she knows the set and is able to send her teammates to the correct spots. She is smart. Her teammates listen for her, knowing she is the ultimate wingman. She is a true team defender, calls the slides and is generally in charge around the 8-meter.

Over to you. Do you find that you have a lot of one type of defender on your team? If so, which? How do you build a diverse, cohesive skill sets among your defensive unit? Let us know in the comments section.

Building the Modern Defender

Bring home the preeminent defense-specific women’s lacrosse resource, brought to you by US Lacrosse and Johns Hopkins coach Janine Tucker, as part of the “Building the Modern Player” series.

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