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The Five Golden Rules of Defense


The First Rule of Defense - Everyone plays Defense


When the opponent has the ball every player has a defensive role with the objective to take possession of the ball back and go on offense. It doesn’t matter if the have the ball on their goal line they still have it. Attackmen must ride and play defense and follow the golden rules.


The Second Rule of Defense - Always stay between your man and the goal.

This is the basic concept of defense whenever the other team has the ball. So many times our players play adjacent to, or in front of the man they are covering. Other times they are just plain out of position. The most basic fundamental of defense is that they should be positioned between the man they are covering and their own goal. New players don’t always know, and even if they do many have not developed a “field sense” and lose track of where they are on the field.

The Third Rule of Defense – Play Defense with your legs and feet

Players just can’t wait to swing that stick at the other player. But that only leads to bad defense and costly penalties. Defense is played effectively by moving your feet. We must teach young players to play defense with their feet, and prevent them from relying on their stick being in the ready position - knees bent, on your toes, squared up to your opponent, good balance, low center of gravity, and shuffle.


Even if a midfielder is chasing down an opposing midfielder with the ball, they must play with their legs. How many times have you seen a middie fall for the baited stick and try to check the stick behind their opponent only to stop running and be fooled.

Our players must focus on their opponents’ hands. If they can harass their opponents by poke checking their hands, or lifting the hands and arms with their stick, the offensive player will be stymied. They cannot catch, pass, or shoot if a defender is keeping pressure on their hands. And by poking and lifting, we avoid the potential slashing penalties that could put us in a man-down situation. Don’t forget FEET FIRST, STICK SECOND. It is easy for a player to get so focused on poking and lifting that he gets off balance and lets the man get past him. Then we’re in trouble!

The Fourth Rule of Defense - Always protect the hole.

The hole is the area on the field inside the restraining box roughly within an 8-10 yard radius in front of the goal. Probably over 80 percent of scoring in youth and high school games occurs in this area. Basically it is an imaginary “bullseye” circle or cone directly in front of the net.


Players must understand this, and defend the hole intensely. In an unsettled situation, defenders must get back inside the restraining box, defend the hole, and play defense from inside out. In other words, get back into the hole as quickly as possible first, then “mark up” on defense by finding an uncovered opponent, calling out his number so your teammates know you have him covered.

Once the ball crosses the midline midfielders need to sprint back inside the restraining box to the hole. They will want to contest the ball, or cover their man out there in the middle of the field, however it is better to get to the hole as opposed to perhaps being beat and creating an unsettled offensive chance for the opponent where they have more attacking players then we have defenders.


That said if the ball is down on the ground certainly that player should go for the ball. But if the ball is down on the far side of the field, the player is better off getting to the hole and being ready to defend.

The First Rule of Defense - Everyone plays Defense


When the opponent has the ball every player has a defensive role with the objective to take possession of the ball back and go on offense, see rules 2 thru 4!