Defense Drill #1: Athletic Position (“Balance” & “Footwork”)
- Demo (1 min): Holding The Stick - Shoulder Width Apart, Bottom Hand Over & Top Hand Under, Strong Hand
- Athletic position = Feet parallel (hip width apart), knees slightly bent (1/4 squat aka peak power position), staying on “the balls (forefoot)” of your feet, leaning slightly forward, with head/chest up, abdominals flexed (as if about to be punched in the stomach), a “neutral spine” and “shoulders set.”
- *Variation #1 (2 min): "Maintaining Balance." Players stand in what they believe to be the athletic position and coaches walk around and see if they can push them off balance using a reasonable amount of strength (Variation #1A). Players then try to push each other off balance, one at a time, first with no sticks (Variation #1B) and then with sticks using a "push check" (Variation #1C).
- *Variation #2 (2 min): "Checking A Partner." More advanced options include having players pair up and body check (Variation #2A), cross check (Variation #2B) and/or slash (Variation #2C) each other on the arm-pad 5 times, both in stationary and dynamic fashion. Cue players to stay keep their "feet on the ground" when body-checking, "cross-check down," and "slash short." Also teach players to block a cross-check by keeping their stick up. (Quick Demo - 1 min).
*Variation #3 (2 min): "Follow The Stick." Have players stand (with nobody else within arm’s length) in two different groups, in opposite ends of the floor, with the assistant coaches instructing them to follow their stick (forward, back-pedal, side-shuffle - half steps or long steps, down & roll - then up), with players doing "stutter-steps" on the coaches whistle (two whistles signals the end).
Players should maintain the athletic position throughout the drill, having a wide stance for "side-shuffling and a deep knee bend ("getting low") when "back-pedaling." Emphasize quick feet and explosive weight transfer. Informally correct the posture of any noticeably bad athletic positions among the group.
Have players sprint to the opposite end of the floor and repeat the drill in front of the other coach. Each sequence of movements should last between 30-45 seconds (giving players the feel for what an average shift would be like).
*Most common error = not bending knees and getting low/wide while maneuvering.