Why Are Lacrosse Defense Sticks Longer?

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Defense in lacrosse is arguably one of the most important aspects of the game. 

Without a solid defense, it becomes much harder to win games and give your team confidence. 

Defensive players otherwise referred to as d-poles, have longer sticks, and are 6 feet long for the standard.

Why are lacrosse defensive sticks longer? Because defensive players in lacrosse have the disadvantage of moving backward and/or laterally, and because the pace of play is intense, defense sticks are longer to help defensive players cover some ground.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at a defensive player’s role in the field, and how that 6-foot pole comes in handy on the field.

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Why Longer Sticks Help Defensive Players in Lacrosse

Defense in lacrosse is extremely challenging. It’s like being a linebacker in football, but action near the net can get incredibly intense. The defensive player’s stick (also known as a shaft or pole) is an important part of the position. The longer the stick, the more aggressive he can be and the more ground that can be covered.

We’ll get into more details of the position, but first let’s take a closer look at the stick and how players modify it to fit their needs.

Stick Modification

Before we jump into what exactly a d-pole does on the field and what his responsibilities are, let’s first take a look at other variations of defensive sticks. Although the standard size for a defensive stick is 6 feet, as I mentioned, many players modify the length to their liking.

This is due to them wanting more control of the stick, so they are able to scoop up the ball better, control their checks more, and so on. Personally, I do recommend testing out various lengths, to see what best suits your size and play style, as everyone tends to play in their own style.

What Makes a Good Defensive Stick?

In terms of quality, sticks do vary on a large spectrum. From quality to price, there is quite a bit of difference. You can find some shafts for under $100, while there are some that exceed over $200.

However, I will say, when it comes to lacrosse sticks, you certainly get for what you pay for, so I do recommend getting a higher quality shaft if you are able to afford them.

Also, the head of the stick is also custom to defensive players as well. The defense heads can also be quite pricy, but again, you get what you pay for as well. The difference between a regular head and a defense head is that the d-head is stiffer and more durable, so it does not break during checks and such.

Roles of a Defensive Lacrosse Player

The d-pole in lacrosse has quite a bit of responsibility tagged along to them, and for a good reason. It is one of the harder positions to play, and if you are new to the sport, I wouldn’t recommend it as a beginning spot, as it is quite stressful and requires a bit of knowledge in order to be successful at it.

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Communication

One of the most crucial parts of lacrosse is communication. 

Without talking, it doesn’t matter how much talent you or your team possess; you won’t be very successful. Talking to your teammates goes a long way, and it is no different than other sports.

Communication is also much more crucial on the defensive end than the offensive end, in my opinion, as well. This is because the speed of play is so fast in lacrosse, which is why it is often referred to as “the fastest game on two feet.”

Also, there are many callouts that a defensive player must become familiar with as well, such as:

  • Hot- “Who is the player that is designated slide.”
  • Slide-“The player who is hot will slide over to the player who just beat a defender.”
  • Rico- “The player who was just beaten on a dodge, gets to the middle of the crease to pick up a new player to guard.”
  • Skip pass-“The other team is making a pass across the field, skipping the rotation.”
  • Sticks inside-“Players should keep their sticks on the inside of the middle of the field, as opposed to on the outside.”
  • Ball down- “The ball is on the ground, signaling you or your teammates to pick it up.”
  • Release- “You have picked up the ground ball.”
  • I got the ball- “You are defending the player with the ball.”

There are many, many other defensive callouts, but these cover the basics and are what many teams implement into their defensive strategies. Learning all of the defensive lingoes can be quite difficult and overwhelming, which is why it is one of the most difficult positions to play.

Awareness

Another role that d-poles will need to adapt is proper awareness. Due to this, d-poles must be able to make decisions quickly and read the plays that are happening in front of them and be two steps ahead.

Knowing what is happening and what is about to happen is what makes a great defender, which is why it is important to make sure that you are learning the game as quickly and as efficiently as you can.

It takes quite a bit of patience to learn all of this as well, so make sure that it is in the back of your head before you go through the process of becoming a d-pole.

Carrying the Ball

30 years ago, this may not have been such a large role among defensive players, but with the speed of play increasing rapidly and the athletes developing more as well, d-poles often now take the ball up the field.

This can start a fast break quickly, giving your team an advantage to scoring, as well as distract the other players as well, as it disrupts the play.

Also, if you are just now starting your journey to play, just keep in mind that college coaches love to see a d-pole that can carry the ball up the field, as it shows matureness and confidence in the position, which are huge keys for them.

How to Learn The D-Pole Position

In terms of learning how to play, I recommend watching games. Watching film of lacrosse not only will help you learn the position of a d-pole at a faster pace, but also the game of lacrosse as a whole. I recommend watching both live and, on a screen, as both methods certainly have their benefits.

For live games, you get to experience the atmosphere, as well as just how loud the game sounds as well. For watching a game on TV, you get to see the game at better games without distractions, as well as get to listen to commenters break down what exactly is happening on the field.

I recommend watching either NCAA D1 or MLL/PLL games, as these games will not only display the highest levels of talent but also has the best commentary to listen to as well.

Conclusion

Overall, the position of a d-pole can be quite stressful. The longer stick used by this position is no accident. It’s a necessary tool for one of the sport’s most challenging roles.

Lacrosse is intense and being a d-pole can be taxing. However, once you’ve covered the basics and gotten a grasp for the game, playing defense is quite fun. If you are up for a challenge and want to play one of the hardest positions in lacrosse, then I say go for it. 

Get to your local shop and find someone to help you pick out the best stick for the job.

However, just remember to keep in mind everything that you’ll have to learn, as well as make sure you are disciplined throughout the entire process as well. Patience will be key when it comes to learning the position, so make sure that you are practicing that as well.

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