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When it comes to team ball-sports a good defence is often the key to a successful game.
This is also the case in intercrosse. While attacking is easy, especially psychologically, defence requires tolerance and smartness in order to keep the opponent away from the goal.

The key to a good defence is cooperation meaning that the team need to work together in an ordered fashion where everyone knows his/her role. This however, may be difficult in some situations for example during a counter attack.

When the team is not unified in one defensive unit, defence is a very difficult matter.
This scenario requires that each individual player has a good tactical knowledge in order to make the right decisions. A unified defence is easier but still requires a lot, especially that the players know each other and how they react in different situations. Otherwise a misunderstanding may occur, which in turn gives the attacker an advantage.

As a base rule you might say that the team should strive towards a unified defence, because this is the easiest way to defend as well as the most efficient.

Defenders may be confronted with the following situations:

 

The counter attack

As said in the beginning the counter attack is the most difficult situation to handle as a defender since the players are often scattered and the defence in disorder. Because the team is not unified, this scenario requires more from each individual player.

The team should always strive in the direction of a unified defence; therefore the first priority for every player is to aim for the opponent closest to him/her. This is particularly important for the player closest to the ball.
This may seem to be a simple task, but in reality players have a tendency to running as quick as possible back to the goalkeeper.

Why is this bad, you may ask?
If everyone runs back as fast as possible, won't the team be unified as quickly as possible this way?
Yes, this may in many situations be the fastest way to unify the team "physically". The trouble is that even though the whole team is united in one spot, it still takes a considerable amount of time to organize the defence and for everyone to "pick a player" to defend. Also the opponent team gets to run all the way down to your goal without interference of any kind, which means that they have speed against a still-standing defence.
This is a very dangerous situation.
By seeking up the player closest to you, that player is disturbed and the opponent team is therefore weakened in its attack. "Disturbing" the opponent this way not only weakens the opponent team's attack, but also increases the possibility of stealing the ball and form a "counter-counter-attack".
(See, a good defence really is the basis for attacking. ;-) )

So, primarily each player seeks up the opponent closest to him or her. Then what?
The next step differs slightly depending on if you defend the player with the ball or not. If you are defending the player with the ball you need to push the opponent as far away from the goal as possible. Positioning yourself correctly in relation to the opponent does this. The correct defensive position is always between the opponent and the goalkeeper (that is, your own goalkeeper of course :-) ).

In order to "push" the opponent away from the goal you need to block his/her way to the goal and force him/her to go around you. When defending this way you need to keep the opponent away from the area straight in front of the goal. The further out the side they are, the better. Thus, you "push" the opponent out to the sides by positioning yourself (and your cross) a little more to the "inside" of the court.
It is important to say that there are exceptions to this rule. For example in two-on-one situations, which we will discuss later.

If you are defending a player not carrying the ball your objective is slightly different. In this scenario you should not only "push" them out to the sides but also keep an eye on the player with the ball in order to make it impossible for him/her to pass the player you are defending. So defending the players not carrying the ball is actually much more complicated.

Unified defence

A unified defence is when the whole team is gathered and each player defends one opponent.

When in a unified defence there are two objectives:

  1. To push the opponents as far away from the goal as possible, preferably out to the sides where the angle
    is so sharp that a potential shot will be an easy one for the goalkeeper to save.
  2. To "cut off" the opponent with the ball so that he/she have no one to pass the ball to.

If both goals are achieved the opponent will be forced to shoot from a sharp angle leaving an easy task for the goalkeeper.

The first objective is very similar to the second one when defending a counter attack. It is important to keep the opponent away from the area in front of the goal. Correct positioning is the most efficient way to achieve this.

The major difference between the unified defence and the counter attack defence is that in a unified defence the game is played more side-to-side. It is very difficult for an attacker to play with "depth" against a unified defence.

One effective method for the unified defence to use, is to break the opponents' "pattern" by blocking the "side-to side" possibility and forcing them to attack single-handed. Using this method however can if misused be interpreted as zone defence, it is therefore important that the defenders still use man-to-man defence.

2-on-1

In some cases defence doesn't work as expected. How improbable it may seem it is possible that the opponents are just too fast :). In this case a 2-on-1 situation is not unusual.

As a defender there are some tricks you might use to stop a situation like this which in many ways differ from ordinary defending.

  1. Keep distance
    In an ordinary defence strategy you should keep close to the player you are defending. However, in a 2-on-1 scenario there are two opponents to defend. Place yourself in between the two players with depth so that you still have time to move in front of the player with the ball if he chooses to go for the goal.
  2. Cut off the pass
    In a 2-on-1 situation the use of the goalkeeper is important. The defender should therefore as a primary target try to cut off the passing angle between the two opponents while the goalkeeper concentrates on the player with the ball. A good defender can push the player with the ball out to the side while still cutting off the passing angle to the second opponent merely by positioning himself correctly.
    This is however very difficult.
  3. Use the goalkeeper
    As said before the use of the goalkeeper is very important in a 2-on-1 situation.
    The goalkeeper should always follow the player with the ball leaving the player without the ball for the defender to "cut off".