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Defense 101 with UWLX Defender Sloane Serpe

If the saying “defense wins championships” is true, then it’s always the right time to fine tune your defensive skills, #amiright?

While attackers may get the glory for goals, defenders can make or break a team's success. To help take your defensive skills to the next level, we asked UNC alum and Long Island Sound defender Sloane Serpe to school us in defense.

Below, Sloane shares her ABC's of defense, talks top tips for staying out of the shooting space and demos her favorite drills:

Sloane’s ABC’s of Defense:

Approach: Always come at the ball carrier from a strategic angle. If you go straight at an attacker, you’ll likely get caught flat-footed and they’ll run right by you. If you approach at an angle, you’ll have the flexibility to adjust and follow the direction of the attacker, helping you to stay on the ball at all times.

Breakdown: Before reaching the attacker, remember to break down your steps! As you advance closer, take small, choppy steps to slow down from your sprint. This gives you more control over your movements and helps you get in line with the attacker before making contact.

Contact: Once you reach the attacker, you’ll want to make direct contact with them. This will throw off the direction of the attacker, and give you the advantage. Note that initial contact is not mandatory. Be patient and make a judgment call based on the speed and movement of the attacker.

Direction: After making contact, determine which direction you want to send the attacker. It’s important that you don’t let the attacker decide – if the attacker makes this decision, there’s a better chance they will be able to dodge past you. To prevent this, step up to the attacker and block them from the side, forcing them to move in the predetermined direction.

Now that we’ve got our ABC’s down, here are Sloane’s tips for staying out of the shooting space:

Lead with Your Stick: To avoid getting a shooting space violation, it’s best to lead with your stick – tall in one hand – until you close the space between you and the attacker. As you get closer, hold your stick with both hands for extra support.

Make a C: It’s important to avoid running straight up to the attacker – this can lead to another shooting space violation. Instead, approach the defender at a distinct angle, making a C with your body as you close. This helps keep your body out of the shooting space while allowing your stick to remain in the space and deflect the shot. 

And BONUS - a few of Sloane’s favorite footwork drills. Practice with a friend and make sure to stay low!

Mirroring Drill: Choose an area of the field and make a line that’s five yards wide and long with a cone at each end. One person leads while the other mirrors her movements. The purpose of this drill is to try and catch your partner off guard with different moves such as back-and-forth shuffles, back peddling, short sprints, etc.. Take turns being the leader, alternating every 45 seconds.

Defending the Cone: Start by setting up a box that’s 10 yards wide and 10 yards long. Place a cone in the middle of the box. For this drill, one person serves as the attacker and the other serves as the defender. The goal is to prevent the attacker from reaching the cone in the middle of the box. Rather than just standing in front of the cone the entire time, the defender must go out and engage the attacker, following her every move. Take turns role playing and alternate every 45-60 seconds.

Want more training tips from Sloane? Check out the ladder drills that she ALWAYS incorporates into her workout.