Our latest Drill of The Month comes from the defensive mastermind of the All-American Tucker Durkin from the Project 9 camp. For those unfamiliar with Project 9, it is a camp put on by Paul Rabil and Mark Millon where they host a small group of select High School athletes and provide them with instruction from some of the best lacrosse minds in the world to better prepare them for the college ranks.
The drill we are sharing today is the Zig Zag Defense Drill which focuses on perfecting the defensive approach. Take a look at the video below from Rabil’s channel then study the breakdown of the drill as instructed by Durkin.
Before beginning this drill it is important to establish the 3 keys to a solid defensive approach.
- Have your stick out
- Maintain an athletic stance
- Take away one side of field from the offensive player
Once those keys are established, it is time to set up the drill. You will need a total of 11 cones spaced out into 5 triangles with 3 large triangles and 2 smaller ones that follow. The long triangles provide the experience of a long approach similar to when the ball would travel from behind the cage to the top of the box and you need to move from the help side at the crease to cover your man. The smaller triangles then provide the experience of the offensive team drawing a slide and you need to slide across the crease to cover a new man.
To get started, line your defensive players up at the first bottom cone where they will work on their long approaches.
- Approach the first top cone using 1-2 long steps to pick up ground followed by a few short and choppy steps to help the player establish their defensive position.
- Once at the cone, the player must take away the strong side of the cone then back pedal as if they were being dodged on.
- After a short back pedal, the player then needs to accelerate through to the next bottom cone where they will reset.
After the player runs through the first 3 long triangles, they will then work on short approaches at the smaller triangles. In a similar fashion, this is how the short approach will play out.
- Approach the top cone with a burst of short and choppy steps focusing on establishing the defensive position once they hit the cone.
- Once established, take away the strong side of the cone.
- The player will not back pedal here, but quickly turn and accelerate to the next bottom cone.
To help players visualize the in-game scenario, it is important to establish each top cone with a dominant side so they understand which side they need to take away from the offensive player. We recommend running this drill from both sides of the cone set up so that your players can work on approaching offensive players who are dominant on both the left and right sides. As you saw, Durkin ran this drill at full speed which helps give it a more game-like feel. If you are coaching younger athletes, we suggest starting a lot slower so that your players can fully understand the mechanics behind the approach and the body positioning that is required.
For more team drills check out our library of drills and Paul Rabil’s Project 9 playlist. For all other team needs such as team uniforms, apparel and equipment check out our team page and contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-967-4625.