SSDM Lacrosse: Master the Game with Short Stick Defensive Midfielder

In the fast-paced world of lacrosse, the role of the Short Stick Defensive Midfielder (SSDM Lacrosse) is crucial yet often underappreciated. As a lacrosse aficionado, understanding the responsibilities and skills of an SSDM can enrich your appreciation of the game. These players are tasked with fortifying the defensive line, blending the agility and stamina of attackers with the resilience of a defenseman. Their versatility allows them to transition swiftly between offense and defense, serving as a pivotal bridge that supports the team’s adaptability during play.

An SSDM’s primary function is to thwart the opposition’s offensive strategies and to regain possession of the ball. They do this using a combination of quick decision-making, exceptional stick skills, and an ability to anticipate opponents’ moves. Due to their strategic placement and defensive responsibilities, SSDMs are often understood as the backbone of the team. Your awareness of their role allows you to recognize their substantial, sometimes game-changing, contributions on the field, such as initiating a counterattack or locking down an offensive midfielder.

Equipped with a standard short lacrosse stick, which contrasts with the long poles used by dedicated defensive players, SSDMs must engage with agility and intelligence. While they may not always be in the limelight, their behind-the-scenes work is essential. It’s through consistent pressure and formidable presence in the midfield that SSDMs establish themselves as unsung heroes, integral to both preventing scores and enabling transitions that can lead to scoring opportunities for their own team.

SSDM Lacrosse Overview

As a dedicated reader seeking to understand the SSDM position in lacrosse, you will find a concise history of the role as well as its significance in modern play within this section.

SSDM Lacrosse Overview

History of SSDM Position

The SSDM (Short Stick Defensive Midfielder) position in lacrosse has evolved from a traditional midfield role to a specialized defensive function over time. Historically, midfielders were expected to play both offense and defense, but with the progression of the sport, the SSDM has emerged as a key defensive component emphasizing agility and stick skills.

Role in Modern Lacrosse

In today’s game, the SSDM holds a vital position on the field. You are in charge of supporting the defense and disrupting the opposing team’s offense. Key characteristics of an SSDM include:

  • Quickness: Your ability to transition rapidly from defense to offense and vice versa is crucial.
  • Stick Skills: Mastery of stick handling to intercept passes and clear the ball effectively.
  • Decision Making: You make tactical decisions, often under pressure, to optimize defensive plays.

Your role as an SSDM encompasses the backbone of defensive strategy, reinforcing your team’s effort to control the game flow and prevent scoring opportunities by the opposition.

Related: LSM Lacrosse: Revealed Secrets about the Long Stick Midfielder

Key Responsibilities of an SSDM

As a Short Stick Defensive Midfielder (SSDM) in lacrosse, your role is pivotal in fortifying your team’s defense, orchestrating smooth transitions between defense and offense, and contributing to the offensive strategy when opportunities arise.

Key Responsibilities of an SSDM

Defensive Skills

Your primary responsibility on the defensive end is to neutralize the opposing midfielders. Your ability to prevent them from scoring is critical. Mastery of stick skillsfootwork, and positioning is essential to strip the ball from attackers or intercept passes. As an SSDM, you are an integral part of the slide package, ready to assist your teammates and recover quickly to maintain a solid defensive formation.

Transition Play

In transition, your role is to facilitate the shift from defense to offense. Your hustle is key in transitioning the ball effectively, and your speed and decision-making skills ensure that the ball reaches the attackmen safely. Your proficiency in clearances will often open up opportunities for a quick counterattack, making you a formidable threat against unprepared defensive units.

Offensive Contributions

Although not your primary role, your participation in the offensive plays can be significant. When presented with a chance, your ability to shoot on goal during fast breaks can catch the opposing team off guard. A well-timed offensive contribution from an SSDM can make the difference in tight situations by adding an extra layer of pressure on the opposing defense.

Physical and Mental Attributes

Physical and Mental Attributes for SSDM Lacorosse

To excel as an SSDM in lacrosse, you must cultivate specific physical and mental attributes that will enable you to handle the rigorous demands of this position.


Your physical capabilities are the cornerstone of your effectiveness. As an SSDM, strength and agility are paramount. You need to be able to apply robust defensive checks and swiftly alter your direction to maintain defensive integrity. Quick transitions, often a result of your athleticism, are vital for successful offensive plays.

Lacrosse IQ

Understanding the game deeply — your Lacrosse IQ — encompasses more than just knowing the rules. As an SSDM, it is essential to anticipate the opponent’s moves, make quick decisions on defense, and recognize opportunities to join the attack. You should be adept at reading plays and possess a heightened awareness of positioning which contributes directly to your team’s tactical execution.

Endurance and Stamina

The role of an SSDM is physically demanding, requiring you to maintain high levels of endurance and stamina. Your ability to run and cover large areas of the field without fatigue can be a deciding factor in the game’s late stages. Continuous conditioning to improve aerobic and anaerobic capacity is crucial to bolster your performance.

Training and Development

To excel as an SSDM (Short Stick Defensive Midfielder) in lacrosse, your training should emphasize skill enhancement, physical conditioning, and the practical application of tactics through game simulations.

Skill Drills

Your footwork, stick handling, and defensive positioning are foundational skills that you must continuously refine. Focus on drills that improve your agility and dexterity. For example:

  • Stick Skills: Wall ball routines to enhance passing and catching proficiency.
  • Footwork Drills: Zig-zag cone drills for agility.

Strength and Conditioning

Your physical conditioning should cater to the demands of fast-paced transitions and defensive resilience. Integrate interval training into your regimen to mirror the game’s intensity:

  • Interval Sprinting: Sprint 110 yards within 20 seconds, rest for 40 seconds, repeat ten times.
  • Strength Workouts: Core and lower body exercises for stability and power.

Game Simulation Practices

Participate in drills that mimic game scenarios to sharpen your in-play decision-making. Work on strategies for:

  • Transitioning: Practice shooting percentages in transition scenarios, as high as 40.5%, demonstrating the tactical importance.
  • Defensive Plays: Engage in drills where you switch matchups or use offensive midfielders to disrupt opposing strategies.

Strategies and Tactics

In the role of an SSDM in lacrosse, your primary responsibilities revolve around mastering defensive maneuvers, providing offensive transitions, and participating in special teams play.

Defensive Strategies

As an SSDM, your defensive strategies are paramount. You are expected to:

  • Interrupt Opponents’ Plays: Utilize your agility to disrupt the flow of the opposing team’s offense.
  • Force Dictation: Guide opposing midfielders by forcing them towards less advantageous areas of the field, referred to as down the alley.
  • Slide Packages: Be versed in slide packages to aid your defense and fill gaps when teammates are drawn out of position.

Offensive Support

Offensively, while not your primary role, you provide critical transition support:

  • Transitioning the Ball: Move the ball quickly to the offensive side, ensuring a rapid shift from defense to attack.
  • Creating Scoring Opportunities: If you possess shooting skills, capitalize on transition opportunities to become a scoring threat.

Special Teams

Your involvement in special teams can influence the game’s outcome:

  • Man-Down Situations: On defense, contribute by understanding rotation schemes and maintaining coverage integrity.
  • Riding and Clearing: While riding, delay opponents’ transitions; during clears, successfully get the ball to attackers and facilitate the swap for offensive midfielders.

Equipment and Gear

As a Short Stick Defensive Midfielder (SSDM) in lacrosse, your equipment is vital to your performance and safety on the field. This section is dedicated to guiding you through the essential gear you’ll need.

Protective Equipment

Protective Equipment for SSDM Lacorosse

Your safety is paramount, so proper protective equipment is non-negotiable. You must wear:

  • Helmet: A high-quality helmet that meets national safety standards.
  • Shoulder Pads: To protect against checks and collisions.
  • Gloves: These should offer mobility and grip, while also providing protection for your hands.
  • Elbow Pads: To shield the elbows during falls or contact.
  • Mouthguard: To safeguard your teeth and reduce the risk of concussion.

Lacrosse Stick Choices

The stick is the extension of your skills on the field. As an SSDM:

  • Shaft: Opt for a lightweight yet sturdy metal alloy or composite shaft that allows for quick maneuvers.
  • Head: Choose a head with a stiff construction to stand up to defensive play and groundball scrapping.
  • Pocket: The pocket should have a mid-depth to facilitate quick ball release and control.


To maintain agility and stability on the field, your footwear is critical. Choose shoes that:

  • Offer good traction for various field conditions, whether turf or grass.
  • Provide ankle support without sacrificing mobility.
  • Include breathable materials to keep feet comfortable during play.

Professional and Collegiate SSDM Play

In the upper echelons of lacrosse, the short stick defensive midfielder (SSDM) position holds significant responsibility, balancing defensive prowess with offensive transition capabilities.

D1 College Lacrosse

In Division 1 college lacrosse, your role as an SSDM is critical for the team’s success. The position demands high fitness levels and the ability to make quick decisions under pressure. You must adeptly handle defensive matchups against top midfielders, utilizing your speed and positional awareness to prevent scoring opportunities. Moreover, clearing the ball effectively is a fundamental aspect of your gameplay, contributing to your team’s swift transitions into offense. Examples of outstanding SSDM play can be observed in prestigious college programs, where players often specialize early in their collegiate careers to excel at this demanding role.

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Professional Lacrosse Leagues

In professional leagues, the expectations for SSDM players like you increase substantially. Your defensive duties often involve complex slide packages and devising strategies to counter the opponent’s midfielders. Your ability to disrupt plays and cause turnovers can directly influence the game’s momentum. Offensively, you are tasked with being a credible scoring threat during fast breaks, adding depth to your team’s attacking options. Notably, your position’s versatility and utility become more pronounced at the professional level, where every play can be a game-changer.

Prominent SSDM Players

As you explore the realm of SSDM Lacrosse, certain individuals stand out due to their contributions and prowess on the field. This section will present pivotal historical figures and focus on current notable players who have made a significant impact in the position.

Historical Figures

Gary Gait Lacrosse
Gary Gait
  • Gary Gait: Often remembered for his offensive prowess, Gait also excelled in transition and set a standard for future SSDM players.
  • Brodie Merrill: Renowned for his defensive skills, Merrill’s versatility as a SSDM helped shape the role in modern lacrosse.

Current Notable Players

  • Zach Currier: Exceptional in creating plays across the field, Currier embodies the ideal of a versatile two-way midfielder leading the resurgence of the position.
  • Danny Logan: As a recipient of the George Boiardi Hard Hat SSDM Award in both 2021 and 2022, Logan has established himself as a premier SSDM, known for his ability to contend with various types of attackmen.

Improving as an SSDM

Elevating your game as a Short Stick Defensive Midfielder (SSDM) hinges on enhancing footwork, defensive positioning, and stick skills. These areas of focus contribute to your overall effectiveness on the field.

Coaching Tips

  • Footwork: Your agility and footwork are paramount. Practice drills that improve lateral movement and quick changes in direction.
  • Positioning: Emphasizing defensive positioning helps in understanding slide packages and locking up opponents effectively.
  • Physicality: Incorporate strength training into your regimen to ensure you can play aggressively and maintain endurance throughout games.

Video Analysis

  • Game Footage Review: Analyze your on-field movements, noting areas for improvement especially in transition plays and during defensive stands.
  • Opposition Tendencies: Study opponents’ tendencies to anticipate their moves and gain the upper hand during confrontations.
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Mentorship Programs

  • Guidance: Seek out experienced SSDMs who can provide personalized advice and strategies that have proven successful at higher levels of play.
  • Shared Learning: Participate in mentor-mentee drills to refine stick skills and improve defensive tactics tailored specifically for SSDM roles.
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