March 11, 2009

This article appeared in the Febrauary issue of Lacrosse Magazine, a US Lacrosse publication available exclusively to members. Get new tips each month in LM's new "Your Edge" section by joining US Lacrosse.

Slide Package with Zac Jungers

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Time your slide for when the ball carrier's head is turned. This is particularly effective when sliding to initiate a double-team. Here, Denver Outlaws attackman Brendan Mundorf is about to get worked by teammate Zac Jungers on a crease slide.
© John Strohsacker/

Sliding on defense is a team function. If anyone should know this, it's Denver Outlaws defenseman Zac Jungers, who's just two years removed from an All-American career under defensive sage Bill Tierney at Princeton.

Questions arose early and often, Jungers said, when he was forced to learn 15 base defenses, each spawning multiple slide packages.

"I remember freshman year, looking at a lot of drawings on white boards, and asking a lot of questions," Jungers said. "There are so many situations that arise, it's impossible to account for them all perfectly in a system."

When Jungers joined the Outlaws as a second-round draft pick in 2007, the situations multiplied. Regardless of the system, he said, there are individual elements of sliding that remain universal. Here are five

Slide on a "smart angle," as Jungers calls it, and not on a flat angle. Doing so forces the ball carrier down the alley and into a bad angle.
© John Strohsacker/

1. Time the slide for when the ball carrier's head is turned.

Some long poles have itchy trigger fingers and will jump the line on a slide. This gives the ball carrier an opportunity to anticipate the slide and either step around it or feed his teammate left uncovered by the slide. As a guide, pick out a decal on the rear quarter panel of the opposing team's helmet - when you see it, you're in the ball carrier's blind spot. That's your go point. This is most pertinent when making adjacent slides up top or near goal line extended, and when sliding to execute a double team.

2. If you know he's a feeder, fake it.

In this bit of trickery, you want the ball carrier to see you coming. Sell the slide by taking a few steps in his direction, but then pull up. Feeders by definition are more cerebral and have less escapable speed. Make him hesitate, and he should be ripe for a hard check from the on-ball defender.

3. Slide to the head of his stick.

Many defensemen make the mistake of sliding to the ball carrier's body. An advantageous shooter can simply use that as a screen (as Jungers' Outlaws teammate Brendan Mundorf illustrated in January's "Classroom"). Instead, know the ball carrier's strong hand, and shade to that side. "If not," Jungers said, "he's going to take that extra step to shoot around your body."

4. Don't slide to where the ball carrier is; slide to where he's going to be.

Always slide on a "smart angle," as Jungers called it, rather than on a flat angle. Anticipate his movement. Even if you don't make contact, you can alter the ball carrier's intended course.

5. Never slide to check; slide to stop the ball. And yes, this sometimes means putting your body in the line of fire. Man up, cowboy!

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