Invisible Plays, Part II: Defense

My goal in writing about ‘Invisible Plays’ is to describe instances in the sport of lacrosse that I find fascinating – but even more so, plays that I truly believe can tilt the balance and effectively change the way we view performance on the field. I have always felt that there are valiant plays that are made on the lacrosse field that seem to slip through the psyche of the enthusiast. I’ve decided to enter the arena of the Defense, and describe plays that envelop enthusiasm and inspire me as a coach and player.

ROAST Technique

What does it mean to Roast? In most of my experiences coaching lacrosse, finding intuitive ways to define your techniques can create an involvement amongst your team. The Roast Technique was born out of careful study of great NCAA Division 1 Defenses. In my studies, The best defenses commit to this technique. It requires patience, diligence, and a belief in the reasoning behind it. Imagine a Kebab, a Marshmallow over a Firepit. This term was born out of the visualization of putting a player on your stick, and controlling him into the heat of true defense.


An offensive player, or most offensive players, need 2 hands on their stick to make the two fundamentalist plays: Passing, and Shooting. To a defense, these abilities are the attributes of an offense that we want to effectively take away. In the presence of a defender, an offensive player has a myriad of skills to create space which allows them to clear their hands and stick to make passes or shots towards the heart of the defense.

Here are technique cues to develop improved Roast Technique:

Under Elbows, Under Hands.
There is a marked difference in the location of your stick when utilizing the Roast Technique. In order to properly execute this technique, defenders should locate the lower extremities of three prime locations: butt-end, bottom hand, bottom arm elbow pad.

“Get it In, Keep it In”
Once a defender locates his target, the next step is to properly place the defensive stick-head. In the midst of this, it is key that a defender continues to move his feet, and keep his body between the dodger and the goal mouth. I encourage defender’s to stay wide, square, and maintain the rhythm of their footwork throughout the process.

Stay Flat
Keeping the plane of the stick parallel to the turf provides the defender with a direct aim at the opponent’s vital targets. There is a strong tendency for defenders to want to raise their stick to create a stronger check on the player. In careful observation of this moment of raising the stick, the defender is actually providing the offensive player the opportunity to ‘free his hands’ to create a pass or a shot. I encourage our defenders to keep their stick parallel to the ground, to deter the desire to raise it out of the vital position.

Stay Square, Wide, Low.
An elite defender can perform Roast Technique in Space, and in tight corners around the goal. Roast Technique has high-value on the perimeter approaches, slide technique, and rotations. Within the transitions of covering the ball 1-on-1, there are key moments where a defender must remain body physical to keep the opponent from gaining a positional advantage towards the coach. It is vital that a defender remains focused on this technique when a player gets within his 6 foot stick range.

Check out the LaxFilmStudy Library on Playing Defense with your Stick-Out!

Contested Shots

I introduced my love for the Contested Shot in my first article on Invisible Plays. In the sport of lacrosse, one must account for the ability for an offense to create scoring opportunities. At it’s most basic level, lacrosse allows for the offense to: understand their motions ahead of the defense, maintain efficient individual control of the ball (above other sports like hockey, soccer), and the chance of scoring per shot on the target (compared to hockey, soccer). Among the constant chaos of defending the 36 square foot goal, a defense will find itself in moments of destitute: a shooter receives the ball inside a high-scoring area, with his feet set, loaded to shoot, with eyes on his target. Basketball Statistics value the competitive technique of contesting shots. In lacrosse, where an average game may eclipse 50+ targeted shots per contest, the ability for a defense to defend shooting opportunities becomes a valuable asset.

Contested Shots take away a Shooter’s Follow Through, or “Finishing Touch.” The effect of this can lead to loss of accuracy, velocity, and rhythm. In a high-scoring opportunity sport such as lacrosse utilizing the power of contesting shots can turn 3 great sidepipe shots into average middle of the goal shots, or force shots to go wide from efficient scoring areas.

Here are technique cues to properly contesting a shooter’s shot:

Stick Out

Head of Stick

Chop Feet

Stay Big


Contesting Shots also Leads to Caught Shots by your Goalie: Caught Shots = Transition = Number Advantages = High-Scoring Opportunity = Goals.


Yale Defense Clips. The new “thing.”

‘Survivor’ Technique

Interior Play Clips. Survivor Drill. Body Positioning on the Interior.

{See Drill}

Recovery Approaches

Footwork, Poise, KYP. Baton Drill through X.

{See Drill}

2nd Spin Slides

Shed Technique. Slide Recovery Spin, Shed, Slide Recover, Spin, Shed.

{See Drill}

‘Bear Down’ IQ

Chunk the Shot Clock. Final 20.

1st Time GBs

Limiting 2nd Chance Opportunities. Rebound, Grenade GBs.

Goalie Dive Defense

{See Article.}

*DISCLAIMER: If you have additions, or would like to collaborate, I would love to add you as a co-author. The beauty of lacrosse is that it is spontaneous, free, and has infinite possibilities. Please message me to join in on the fun!

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