The Stick Check In Women's Lacrosse
One of the biggest differences between men's and women’s lacrosse is that girls play with relatively no contact. Thanks to this, it takes a great amount of skill and tactical knowledge to be a defender. Not being able to hit an opponent forces you to find new ways to cause turnovers. There is one skill, though, that involves some contact and can be used to the defender’s advantage and it's called the stick check. In women’s lacrosse, a stick check can be used to knock the ball out of an opponent's possession. However, there are specific rules pertaining to stick checking, so check out CoachUp's guide in order to avoid fouls and force turnovers!
To execute an effective legal check, players should understand the proper technique and be thoroughly trained in the skill beforehand. If done incorrectly, a stick check can be cause serious injury, and nobody wants that hanging over their head! Having control is the number one safety concern in any sport, so educating yourself on the best ideals and practices is crucial. When stick checking, the player must make sure that their entire lacrosse stick is below shoulder level. Contact must only be stick to stick and any contact made to the opposing player’s body is illegal.
With a stick check, it’s all about the wrists. The check is essentially a snapping motion as your stick makes contact with your opponent's. By using your wrists, you will have more control over the movement. If you use your arms, chances are high that you'll end up following all the way through, which is a penalty. In terms of stick checking, short and sweet is key! You don't need a huge, powerful motion to jar a ball loose, so keep it under control. Thus, hand placement on the stick is very important; have your top hand control the motion while using the bottom as a base.
The Stick Check In Action
In youth lacrosse, girls must reach a certain age before stick checking is even introduced and any checking contact before this will be deemed a foul. Typically, younger athlete's the skills and ball handling abilities aren't as developed, so turnovers are often caused by things other than stick checks. As girls get older and their strength, speed, and maturity improves, attackers won't lose control as often, which makes stick checking a necessary defensive move. A good defender has the ability to apply indirect pressure and force the attacker to charge their stick, thus allowing them a chance to pounce. This strategy will minimize the risk of accidentally making an illegal contact or check.
Once you've successfully dislodged the ball from your opponent's stick with your check, you must get in the way of their path to the ball. Quickly engage in a 50-50 battle for it because you don't want to waste your great defense! First, adjust your body position to block them before anything else. Obscuring their path to the ball will give you a significantly better chance of coming out with possession.
(Related: Read about playing within a zone defense here.)
The most important thing to remember about stick checking is remembering to attack with purpose and only when you're sure you'll come away with the ball. Especially at lower levels of lacrosse, your ability to stick with the attacker without physical contract will teach you about the effort and discipline that goes into effectively defending. Not only will it better prepare you for contact later on, but it will get you comfortable with proper and legal contact. Then, once you're able to stick check, you'll already have strong defensive fundamentals to lean on.
If you're struggling with your one-on-one defense or can't quite get the timing down of a proper stick check, consider booking one of CoachUp's private trainers to help you out. Defense is particularly tricky in lacrosse because you must instantly react on-the-fly to your assignment's movement. Then, once you add the inability to engage body-to-body physically, it becomes that much harder. Our team will teach you the footwork, ideals, and fundamentals behind a strong stick check in no time! What are you waiting for?