Behold the V-Hold: Learn a Pivotal Defensive Skill from PLL Pros


The V-hold allows you to keep your stick in your strong hand while trailing the ball carrier.

This article appears in the September/October edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Join our momentum.

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Defensemen, this means you.

Current PLL players and 2023 U.S. national team hopefuls Garrett Epple (Redwoods) and Jack Rowlett (Chaos), two-time U.S. teamer Kyle Hartzell (Redwoods) and Australia’s “Big Koala” Callum Robinson (Atlas) all have contributed to the PLL Academy channels.

Let’s dive into the V-hold, which Epple called “a defenseman’s greatest asset.”


The ideal matchup for a defenseman is righty on lefty or lefty on righty. You can keep your stick and body topside and close the gate from a position of strength at goal line extended.

But when an attackman dodges you from X and it’s righty on righty or lefty on lefty, you can get crossed up and lose leverage quickly.

Enter the V-hold, which allows you to keep your stick in your strong hand while trailing the ball carrier. When you bring your stick in front of him, you keep your forearm parallel to his body and pull your butt end down to your hip. This forms a “V” between your stick and forearm.

“We like to get our opposition between our stick and our elbow in a point of leverage, and we can adopt and manipulate him from there,” Robinson said.


  • Trail the ball carrier within a stick’s length coming from X.

  • As he approaches GLE, place your stick straight out in front of him.

  • When the ball carrier gets to GLE, make contact.

  • Push the ball carrier out and away with your inside forearm.

  • Pull your butt end down to your hip to create leverage.

  • Follow through with your legs, driving him up the field and toward the sideline.

  • Keep your feet moving throughout. Otherwise you’ll get a holding penalty.


“I remind myself to always keep my stick in front of the ball carrier to have constant ball pressure,” Epple said. “Every D-coach in America should be teaching their players to keep their stick in front and properly use the V-hold.”


X attackmen want to get to five-and-five. “The most dangerous area on the field,” Robinson said. That’s five yards out from the near post and five yards up the field to optimize their angle and proximity. From here, they can shoot or feed with high efficiency.

Alternate pushing with your inside forearm and pulling down on your butt end to reroute the ball carrier away from this area.


Good attackmen will counter your V-hold with a question-mark dodge. They use your leverage against you, turning to the outside and planting off their inside foot to shoot a jump shot. Or they’ll shoot behind their back when you bring your stick in front of them.

Counter their counter with a reverse V-hold, which involves a crossarm technique.  Rowlett uses it against both lefties and righties. His keys:

  1. Establish an early point of contact.

  2. Keep your balance throughout the play.

  3. Make contact with your chest and head up.

“If you get stuck leaning on your attackman, they have the advantage,” Rowlett said.


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