Youth coaches everywhere struggle with beginning players that lunge or over-commit on defense, letting the man they are guarding run right past them. The Bucket Game is a very simple fix to this common problem, teaching players to keep their feet, hands, and bodies moving to stay in between their man and the goal.
Man-on-Man Defense is an individual responsibility first. If you are a youth or high school coach just about anywhere, you are probably working on lots of basic Individual Defense in practice. It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. By using The Bucket Game at summer camps, clinics, practices, you can get players playing top-notch defense while having a ton of fun.
Feet, Hips, Hands First.
Every player on every team needs to know how to play good Body Defense. Stick checks are the last thing to teach your beginning Defenders.
Taking away your defenders' sticks at practice is a great idea for younger players. Without a stick, they have no choice but to use their body to stay in between their man and the goal at all times.
The Bucket Game is easy to set up and doesn’t require much space on the field. Just put your empty ball bucket down anywhere on the field and give your players plenty of space around it. Your players don't even need to use their sticks or a ball. This drill is all about body positioning and footwork.
And most importantly, it lets your players work absolutely as hard as they can against one another.
Here's THE GAME:
- "Whoever gets lowest wins": Stay low and strong on your feet so you can push. Keep your hands low on the attacker's hips. Don't ride up on the shoulders or back and "Over-Commit". Don't give up the inside body position (ie closer to the goal)!
- Time your drills for your players' age and attention span.
- Keep score if you need to inject some intensity. You could say one point for touching the bucket or one point for stopping the attacker for 15 or 20 seconds. Get them started on a win streak at practice!
- Have the Attacker become the Defender against the next player in line so your players learn to play good defense even when they are tired.
Let us know if you find some really good individual Defenders are on your team!