September 4, 2008

Sept. 4, 2008

Note: This article appeared in the "Lacrosse Classroom" section of the march 2008 issue of Lacrosse Magazine, a US Lacrosse publication available exclusively to its members. Join today to start your monthly subscription.

University of Cincinnati women's lacrosse coach Lellie Swords and assistant coach Kari Pabis presented this topic as a live-field demonstration with the U.S. Elite team at the 2008 US Lacrosse National Convention, presented by adidas.

If there's a topic you'd like to see covered in the "Classroom," e-mail section editor Matt DaSilva at

by Lellie Swords and Kari Pabis, Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Our double-teaming philosophy is to take away the path to goal, then get the ball. If you take away the attacker's path to goal, she has no shot. If you can force her to pull out and move the ball, it means one less opportunity for the opponent to score. Stay in the double-team until the ball moves or it is dislodged.

On-Ball Defender

In a double-team situation, as the on-ball defender, you should:
• Force the ball carrier to the loaded side -- to your help.
• Keep the ball going in the same direction -- no flip-flopping.
• Be patient and listen for the "doubler."
• Seal off the path to goal, and force the attacker into the double.
• Hold body position initially, then go for the check.

Off-Ball Defender

In a double-team situation, as the off-ball defender, you should:
• Communicate to the rest of the defense -- don't just go!
• Communicate to the on-ball defender -- "Coming, double, close."
• Commit. Hesitation kills.
• Trap the ball-carrier in a `V' between you and the on-defender, not an `H.'
• Take risks. Close the double when opportune.
• Dislodge the ball. You might be the "checker" in this situation, but be sure to establish body position first.

Effective communication is vital to preventing a lapse in the double-team, and the onus is on the off-ball defender. You may establish your own terminology, but it should sound something like: "Hot (I'm next to ball)! Who's second (to adjacent defenders)? Watch number 40!"

To the on-ball defender: "Liz (defenders typically hear their own name, if nothing else), hold her outside! I'm jumping!"

Then communicate the roles between the two of you, such as, "I've got body. You've got check!"

Adjacent Defenders

If an adjacent teammate goes for the double, you need to step up and seal the adjacent pass, which will be the ball carrier's only easy outlet. Cheat up and be ready to intercept that pass, while directing the double-team from an adjacent perspective.

Doubling Don'ts

Do not pick off the on-ball defender -- meet on the side of the ball carrier, not in front.

Do not swing your stick -- establish body positioning before you go for the check.

Do not open up and allow the ball carrier to "squeak" through the middle of the double.

If you're the on-ball defender, do not back off the double -- continue to close the double.

Backside Doubles

Instead of a traditional double-team facing the attacker, force the attacker with the ball outside and double from the inside of the 8 meter. This will allow the double to be more of a sneak attack.

In this double-team situation the roles of the on- and off-ball defenders remain the same as above, with the following qualifications:

• On-ball defender forces the ball carrier outside, instead of towards the help.
• On-ball defender must turn the ball carrier back into the middle when you hear "turn her."
• Off-ball defender must communicate to on-ball defender when to turn the ball carrier.


In most defenses, once a double-team ends, the defenders just pull off and run around until they find an opponent to mark. This may leave a player wide open next to the ball or inside the 8 meter -- those are the players that are the most dangerous and need to be covered first.

Solution: Reset backside. This will cover all the girls closest to the ball and force the opposing team to find the open player on the opposite side of the field.

Should I stay or should I go?

You need to decide when to pull off of the double. The obvious time to pull off is when the attacker moves the ball. Other than that, you have to decide how far out you are willing to chase the double.

Now what?

Once the attacker moves the ball, which way should you reset? The back-side/weak-side player (player furthest from the direction of the ball) releases and triggers the reset, while the ball-side/strong-side player holds. Communicate your position by yelling "hold!" or "release!"

To reset off a double:

Go to the closest attacker and bump your teammate to the next player until everyone is covered. Sometimes, this means physically pushing each other in the right direction.

Reset inside out. Always go into the 8 meter and then out to your player. The 8 meter is the hot zone -- protect the 8 meter at all times.

Keep your sticks and heads up for a potential interception.
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