The following post is an excerpt from the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program Level 2 Curriculum. Take a NEW Level 2 online course for men's or women's coaches at

Question: What’s the single most important thing defenders can do for each other?

Answer: Communication.

Communication enhances defenders’ ability to anticipate as well as react quickly and effectively as a unit. A group of defenders who are confident in their skills and able to verbally direct each other will take more risks, function as a cohesive unit, and ultimately perform at a high level. A group of defenders who lack confidence in their skills and are unable or unwilling to communicate with each other will take less risks, play more like individuals than a group, and are at risk for defensive breakdowns.

Coaches and players can create a list of defensive terms that the team can use consistently on the field to enhance overall performance levels. Remember to keep it simple. Defenders don’t have time to speak in complete sentences in competitive situations. For example, a defender doesn’t have time to say, “I am marketing the ball. I am forcing her left. I need a double team, first and second slide to come from the right,” when her mark is actively driving to the cage.

To help you begin building your team’s basic defensive terminology, we have provided a sample used by the Johns Hopkins women’s team, courtesy of coach Janine Tucker.

Base Communication (All Levels)

What is Said What it Means
I got ball I have the ball carrier guarded
Got your right, help right I have your right-side help, I will double
Got your left, help left I have your left-side help, I will double
Got your two I'm your second slide, if you go
Double I'm doubling the ball
Slide Slide to help, double and protect
Crash The ball carrier is in the 8-meter, everyone find ball and stop ball
Reset The slide or crash is over, everyone find a player to guard
Bump Fellow defender should move over to another player close by
Shot A shot has been taken on goal, defense look for the rebound
Clear Goalie has the ball and the defense should break out for the clear

Advanced Communication

What is Said What it Means
I got ball I have the ball carrier guarded
Ball's in the two I have the ball carrier guarded and she is in the two spot
Hot I'm the first slide
Second I'm the second slide
Third I'm the third slide
Bring Her I'm waiting to double, bring the ball carrier to me
Double I'm doubling the ball
Step right Step upfield with your RIGHT foot on a 45-degree angle
Step left Step upfield with your LEFT foot on a 45-degree angle
Hold Hold your player where she is, or I don't need help
No slide I'm in good position on ball and don't need a slide
Ball side Position yourself between the player you are marking and the ball
Goal side Position yourself between the player you are marking and the goal

Double-Team Communication

What is Said Who Says it/What it Means
I got ball Defending who is marking the ball carrier
Help left, help right Defender who is adjacent to the on-ball defender
Bring Her Defender who is in a position to double, telling on-ball defender to force ball carrier in that direction
Double Both defenders, when a double team is initiated
Stick, I got stick Defender who is on the stick side and will look for the check
Body Defender who is not on stick side, will hold body positioning and not look for the check

Related: 9 Habits of Highly Effective Lacrosse Players: Communication

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