an overview of team defence, in particular problems faced by Hopkins D 2009 but the principles hold true
Good Team D is almost a state of mind, in footy they sometimes use the phrase "the first 5yds are in your mind" the same can be said about Team D
being in the right place at the right time
JHU80#38 wrote:Hold the phone.....it's not a complex defensive scheme and you don't have to have great athletes...that's the beauty of this type of defense. You play the ball and you can choose either to be tight on the adjacent or sag off. Everyone else is pushed inside, protecting the middle and ready to slide. The idea is to give up the least effective shot, so you try to push the middies out to the side of the field and down in an alley that takes them away from a good shooting angle. You decide on defense to which hand you want them to go and you slightly overplay the other hand to force them there. Because these guys are good, they will come back the other way. As a team defense, you absolutely have to anticipate that and be ready to start going as they plant their foot and as they turn back. If he beats the defensive player on the turn back, the slide should already be there. This does not work, however, if everyone is not involved in the slide. Someone not moving as the slide occurs leaves the defense vulnerable to an inside look. The idea is to force the offense to make passes, especially difficult ones that have to skip to the far side. If you can make them do that, and the defense has their sticks in an up position, you can either knock it down, affect the pass or you have the time to get to the back side and defend. The process is similar when the ball is behind except that the slide would come cross-crease instead of from the crease as it would when the ball moves on top. Everyone of the defensive players needs to have his "head on a swivel" or as Coach Smith liked to say, "big eye on the ball, little eye on your man". You can't fall asleep and you can just ball watch...that's when you see the back door cuts right to the crease. It is an inside-out defense, where you pack it in and make them take the outside shot that the goalie needs to eat up for you. No one gets "left on an island" and the 7 guys playing defense together is more important that what happens with each individual match-up. Because you are playing angles and taking short-cuts to the ball as well as anticipating, while it is good to have great athletes, it is not absolutely necessary. The toughest part is to be able to anticipate and not get caught up in ball-watching; as the ball moves you have to move with it and continue to be in position to help. The off-ball guys are just as important as the on-ball guys. It is some times difficult to play this style because guys coming in from high school have often just gotten by on being better than the other guys and having good one on one skills. This type of defense forces you to abandon the one on one attitude for the sake of a unit. This defense can also be used to pressure. Instead of just sitting back and letting the offense move the ball, you can decide you are going to jump the ball on a certain number of passes or when it reaches a certain point. This is also a point where you need great anticipation and teamwork. The guy on the ball has to be aggressive and the adjacent guys need to press as well so that the only pass is to the far side. The guy with backside responsibility needs to be alert to this pass as he may have the opportunity to pick it off. Needless to say, the goalie plays a huge part in all of this as he really needs to be the quarterback making sure everyone is moving and letting them know where the ball is located.
On the clearing issues, I think I have spoken before but at the risk of repeating....even though there is a time limit, you have to make sure you don't rush the clear. Usually only bad things happen when you try to clear up the middle. How about using the sidelines? Move it up the sidelines and find the 2 on 1. If they stop you, reverse it quickly to the other side and move it up that sideline. If you are in trouble, especially a defenseman with a long pole, it's no shame to Gilman it up to the attack and let them fight for it. The only caveat I would have is to make sure you are keeping it to the sideline area and not the middle of the field. Because defensemen have better stickwork these days, it is tempting for them to be the hero and run it up or try to dodge through too many people. Even with good stickwork and the newer sticks, you still have a lot more stick to be checked. How about...throw it to the guys with the short sticks!! If you are doubled, turn back and find the open guy....unless you're down, someone is open. Never, never, never, never throw the ball in your defensive end of the field unless you are sure. Better to get knocked out of bounds and play all even than be unsettled. Don't always look for the "home-run" pass. How about making several shorter accurate passes and get it cleared less dangerously.