Keep Your Stick Out!
Ah, the d pole. Lacrosse’s most powerful weapon. The sheer force it brings on shots. The sting it brings on a slash. Remember in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones when Obi Wan Kenobi tells Anakin Skywalker a Jedi’s lightsaber is his life? A d pole is a defenseman’s life. Without it, they are nothing. Defensemen know this; yet, many young (even college-level) players keep their sticks at their side. They don’t hold it out in front. To be an effective defenseman, you must keep your stick out!
If you were a medieval fighter, would you hold your spear out in front to impale enemies at a distance, or hold it at your side and initiate hand-to-hand combat? Unless you’re an MMA fighter, I’m betting you’d hold your spear out. The same goes with d poles. By keeping your stick out, you keep your opponent at bay. You lose your advantage when attackmen get in close.
When your opponent decides to dodge, by keeping your stick out, you cover more space and make contact quicker. It’s a lot easier to pass the ball with your hands free; therefore, it’s your job as a defenseman to make the ballcarrier’s life a living hell. If your man dodges, you should make contact before his dodge. This lets you dictate the pace of play. As a defenseman, you want to be on the offensive. You want your man to react to you, not vice versa. You cannot be aggressive with your stick resting on your hips.
One last thing, when sliding, you should keep your stick out too. Your stick will get to the ballcarrier faster than your body. Lots of defensemen, when sliding, hold their hands out in front to get body contact first. You want to get your stick on your man before hitting body. By keeping your stick out, you can disrupt the ballcarrier before you make body contact.
I’ll leave you with two videos. One will show the defenseman keeping his stick out and winning the defensive matchup. The other will show him failing to do so. You can decide which man you want to be.
Watch these PLL defensive highlights. You'll notice that almost everyone keeps their sticks out in front before making big plays.
There are more examples in this video of bad defensive play, but watch the video at the 2:25 mark. Number 18 doesn’t put his stick out and up and it leads to an easy goal for the offense. Don’t be #18 (apologies if you’re reading this kid. It’s nothing personal)!
If you want to take your defensive play to an elite level, you must keep your stick out in front. You are neutering yourself when you don’t. I realize this is a simple thing, but it’s the simple things that are forgotten. By doing all the little things right, you become an elite player. Do you want to be elite?
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