How To Improve Defensive Footwork

Written by Christina Fried, Director of Communication for True National Girls

When it comes to playing and coaching, we all have our strengths. For me, those strengths are on the defensive end of the field as a player and as a coach. As a defender in an attacker’s game, the defender’s footwork and foot speed are crucial. Our goal as defenders is to dictate the offense, take away the lane they want, and beat them to the next spot. As a defensive coach, my style is going big or going home. That took my DIII college team, Aurora University, to our first conference championship and the NCAA Sweet 16. As a defender, you can only do that with speed and confidence. Here are a few tips on improving defensive footwork as a lacrosse player.


I have talked about the importance of footwork and foot speed, but the question is how you improve your defense footwork. Fitness is key. This includes proper diet, hydration, sleep, and recovery. This routine will allow you to set yourself up for success and bring your all when performing on the field. I also mentioned having confidence, confidence comes from the weight room and the additional reps you are doing outside of practice.

Defensive Footwork 

When it comes to defensive footwork drills, there are three areas we focus on – Cone agility drills, ladder work, and sprints. You can find tons of routines that fall into each category by searching the internet. I still do when I want to change it up.

Cone Agility

Cone agility is necessary and tends to focus on a change of direction. If you are looking to improve your footwork, I suggest setting up a drill and timing yourself. A good example, the T Drill. Simply sprit up 5 yards, shuffle to the left 5 yards, shuffle to the right 10 yards, shuffle center, and back peddle to the start. See how quickly you can complete one rep, and then see how quickly you can complete 3. You can use this as a baseline as you continue to practice this drill week after week.

Ladder Drills

Ladder drills focus on your foot speed. They are great to use on your own and in practice. I add them to our defensive drills by having players run through a ladder and then break out for a clear, or place the ladder on the eight, and they go through the ladder and work on their approach. Repetition, repetition, and more repetition of ladder drills are guaranteed to improve your foot speed.

Short Sprints

Short sprints are my final suggestion to improve your defensive footwork. This helps players when it comes to speed and endurance and is also really important for defenders when breaking out for a clear. Defenders may not need the stamina of a midfielder, but they do need quick speed to keep up with attackers.

As I mentioned in my opening, lacrosse is an attackers game. To be a successful defender and an impactful player for your team, you need to have great defensive footwork so you can dictate what the offense can do instead of reacting to what they are doing. The above are some great tips on how to improve your defensive footwork as a lacrosse player. The key to improving your defensive footwork is discipline and making the time commitment to put in the work to achieve your goals.