Playing Defense in Lacrosse is all about Trust with Matt Landis
Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. Scratch that. Defense wins GAMES. And more importantly, defense wins PLAYS. Each season is made up of thousands of plays in practice and games, but defense makes all the difference. A quote from the iconic show Rocket Power comes to mind, “If they don’t score, you can’t lose” that explains the defensive ethos. Keeping another team from scoring is a team effort, and it can’t be done by one player. Even the best in the world need a solid defensive unit built on trust according to Matt Landis.
I was lucky enough to talk with Boston Cannons defenseman, and Notre Dame grad, Matt Landis about this philosophy. He is not only one of the best examples to watch for learning one-on-one defense, but he is also an incredible “team-defenseman” that sets his teammates up for success. This means working as a unit, communicating, and most importantly trusting.
Trust Comes From The Little Things
Matt has an amazing resume of a 3rd overall draft pick to the MLL, multiple All-American awards, multiple Defensive POY awards, and some academic awards as well. He is just great overall and works very well within the systems he has played in because of the little things.
Matt listed communication, reliability, and predictability as some of the most crucial “little things” players should focus on. The list goes on and on, but these three really hammer home what it is to be a great team defenseman.
- Communication- allowing your teammates to know what is happening that they might not see, what you plan on doing, what the offense is doing, and how exactly you are doing. If you aren’t playing well in your match up, are about to get beat, or feel like something is off; SPEAK UP! Being silent will never help.
- Reliability- Mistakes will happen in every game from every player. Knowing there are six other players on the same side of the field that are ready to help if you slip up is a huge confidence boost. Being that player for the other six is just as important. Defenses are a unit that must act as one, so reliability is an absolute must.
- Predictability- gelling, chemistry, being comfortable, or “trust”. Knowing what the other members of your defense are about to do before the do it is huge. This trust in your unit to move as one and respond to what is happening together is the recipe for success. Having each other’s back won’t even be needed if you all are on the same page all the time.
These “little things” are just habits that form from playing with the same personnel, and developing a relationship with them. You are going to be much better at trusting six other players that you communicate with and can rely on than anyone else.
Trust Comes From Teammates
Being a good teammate is more than high-fiving after goals or cleaning up for someone who forgot. Being a good teammate is being someone that can be trusted on and off the field. Matt was adamant about his closeness with Eddy Glazener and Garrett Epple at Notre Dame and how that helped him as a player. His relationship with them as his defensive linemates allowed him to compete with them, as well as push each other. He said that being so close with his linemates allowed for a freedom that could let them focus on being more of a complete team.
If you are truly close with another player then when they compliment, or correct, your actions you can be sure it is with good intentions. This should also how you approach communicating with your teammates. Communicate with a purpose and with clear intentions. There is no need to try and confuse or belittle other players for no reason. Furthermore, players that are truly close form relationships that better each other on, and off, the field by being a teammate that can be trusted.
Trust How You Get Beat, Trust The System
Like I said before, everyone makes many mistakes. The goal is to make mistakes correctly. Getting beat to the correct area and not trying to overcompensate with a crazy check is the best way to get beat. Matt is amazing at using his body to direct offensive players where he wants them to go, but even he will fall behind during plays. That is where the trust in the system comes into play. By getting beat to where the slide can easily come allows for more doubles and fewer goals. Be sure to know exactly where your defense is sliding from at all times with Communication, so you can Rely on your teammates, and Predict where they will slide to so you can get beat to that area. See what I did there? Communication, Reliability, Predictability. Remember that!
Knowing your own limits is crucial to being a great player. This doesn’t mean go into a matchup being unconfident, it means to play to your strengths. Matt Landis even has limits and flaws. You know why? Cause he is human just like you and me! But he plays to his strengths, which is what makes him so great.
By realizing what your best defensive assets are you can craft your style of play better. Matt had a quote that really stuck out to me, and I hope it inspires you players out there that don’t trust themselves.
“No matter how hard some people work they may not have the quickness of feet to cover a guy like Matt Kavanagh. That doesn’t mean they won’t play by any means, they should just look to differentiate themselves in a different way.”- Matt Landis
If you aren’t fast, but you’re strong, STOP TRYING TO BE FAST! Be the strongest defenseman on the field. Bully players with your force and you will add to your team’s dominance. This doesn’t mean an extra wind sprint before and after practice won’t help, but don’t be something you aren’t. Own the type of player you are and focus on your best qualities. If each player on a defense has one separate quality that makes them great, and they work as a unit then what? I’ll tell ya. Then you have a multi-talented defense on the same level as Notre Dame. And that is the recipe for success.
Trust Stringers Society (Please)
Knowledge is power and we work to bring that power to all players. Being a smart player will get you further than being the fastest on the field, and I guarantee it. If you can work smarter than the player working harder, you still will end up on top. This is where playing as a unit, communication, and predictability come into play. Even if your matchup is better than you, you can always be the smarter player and win out. Watch film, memorize their moves, know when to act. These will put you on a different level than other players. By sliding effectively as a defense, working with trust, and playing as a unit you can beat anyone.
Like I said earlier, “If they don’t score, you can’t lose”.
Trust (And Thank) Matt Landis
Thank you so much to the incredible Matt Landis for taking the time to talk to us during his busy schedule and we wish the best to you and the Cannons this season. Check out their schedule here, and check out our Twitter and Instagram for the best info on lacrosse.
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Again thanks to Matt Landis, good luck this season, and keep crushing it #43!