Ben Reeves’ Guide to Dangling Defenders


Attackman Ben Reeves of Yale men’s lacrosse was crowned Ivy League Rookie of the Year as a freshman and tallied 35 goals and 26 assists to rank 7th nationally (4.96 points per game) as a sophomore.  It’s pretty safe to say the guy knows a thing or two on beating a defender and putting the ball in the net, especially after having to match up against All-American defenseman Michael Quinn for two years.  Here’s a few of Reeves’ tips on how to carry the ball and read the defense from multiple angles.

On the Wing, Lefty

When I’m wrapping around the goal, I try to keep it as in close to my body as possible. When I shoot, I try to get it as far as away from the defense. Our coaches always say extend your hands to the sideline. The d-pole can’t get there. Or I put it out in front of me, straight up to the midfield.

Make the V: Put your elbow to your rib and make a V with your arm and put your hand on the upper part of your stick. That’s the big No. 1. But it can be a feel thing. Sometimes you want it close. Sometimes you want it far away. Just keeping it away from the defenseman as much as possible.

My Read: I shoot this shot a lot. I try to wraparound lefty pretty frequently, but I’m always looking up field to see if somebody has a better shot. You always want to dodge with your head up, looking for cutters, the crease, and an open guy or always be ready to shoot.

Keep it Simple: It sounds obvious, but I like to look at where the defense isn’t. Where you don’t see opposite color jerseys, you tend to find some of your guys streaking through there once in a while. You’re trying to find open space.

Up Top, Lefty

A lot of times I’ll end up up top after a dodge or go up there for a different look. I’m not as comfortable up there, but neither is the guy guarding you. Sometimes it’s nice, you can end up with a step down opportunity or an open shot. It depends on what we’re in and what the situation is.

Always Carry: I try to carry a ball with me at all times in practice, in tight to the body and changing hands and carrying in different spots. Even in a warm-up lap, stuff like that.

One hand, then two: A lot of youth coaches tell kids not to put one hand on your stick, but you should definitely have one hand on your stick, and use the other hand to protect you and use your body to protect your stick. … If you have two hands on your stick the defenseman can lift your bottom hand, or get your stick between your hands. We always say to keep it one hand as long as you can, until you’re about to pass or shoot it.

At X, Righty

My Challenge: My feet were really different, and I kept my hands in way too tight when I went to shoot with my right hand. The defender was able to put his stick in there more often.

Footwork: On the footwork, with my left, I plant with my right foot and pivot around it. When I went right-handed, I saw on the video the plant with my left foot was never really there. I just kind of kept running and shot all arms. I try to get that plant foot down and make it one smooth motion.

My Read: We do a variety of sets. What we do depends on what we’re in or what the defense is in. A lot of teams, when you have the ball behind, snap into a zone look up top where they won’t move and have a designated slide guy. I try to look and see if they are in that or not. Really look at what the defense is doing.


What are your tips for holding onto the ball and burning a defender?  Click the title to comment.


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