The way you move with the ball on the lacrosse field is integral to your playmaking ability. If you can get past a defender and make room for yourself to execute an accurate pass or get a clear shot off, it could be the difference between an empty possession and a momentum-swaying goal. One way to gain space and room from opposing defenders is by dodging.
Dodging combines athleticism, stick work and footwork. Dodging is not about making preconceived moves but, instead, “reading” the defense and adjusting in order to gain an advantage. An offensive player’s job on the field is to go to goal; this means traveling north and south on the field. Defensive players want to push the offense off course, in an east-west direction, which forces them away from goal.
Just like a killer crossover in basketball, a lacrosse dodge can make defenders miss and open up all sorts of offensive options. But before players can be ready to roll out with three and four-move combos, it's important for them to master these five fundamental dodges.
To effectively execute dodges, the attacker needs to recognize how much time and space they need for their footwork and stick work. Newer players need lots of feedback because they are more likely to attempt a dodge too far away or too close to a defender. If they attempt to dodge too far away from their defender, they will not eliminate their opponent. If they execute the dodge too close to the defender, they may actually lose possession by checking themselves as they collide with their defender or pull their stick into their opponent’s stick.
With a change of speed dodge, we're going to strictly focus on just that - changing speeds - so we'll not be changing direction here. In this drill, the pattern that we're using is broken up into three segments. We're going to jog, slow down, and then sprint. The other way to think about this would be from a percentage of full sprint. So if we want to finish in a full sprint at 100% we might come into this dodge around 50 slow down to 30 and then burst to a hundred and we can try many different variations of that. And all it takes is slowing down and speeding back up. And if you time it correctly, it can be very effective. And creating separation and opportunities to get your hands free.
For this drill, we're going to group a split dodge with a stutter-step dodge. The only difference we're going to see here is in one case we go from right hand and stay righty and the other case we go from left hand and split to righty. Regardless of what hand we end up starting in for this drill, we want to focus on the change of speed the moment before we change direction. By slowing down, we allow ourselves to be in better control of our balance. Therefore, giving us the opportunity to have a better first step. So the first step coming off the change of direction is typically the one that can be most important in creating separation.
Drive, bounce and re-drive is a Dodge that all offensive players should utilize very, very often. The reason that this Dodge is so effective is because the moment that we bounce away from pressure gives us a moment to both read the situation and then make our next decision with more composure. So every single time we bounce, we might have the opportunity to split our defender, but by continuing to re-drive, we don't lose anything. And we only gain the opportunity to make a decision in that moment, whether it's re-drive, changing direction into a split, or potentially even just feeding or shooting, are all different options that we want to be able to assess in those bounce moments. So notice that as we bounce away from the pressure, we pick our head and hands up and then we protect our stick for the re-drive portion of this drill.
For this Dodge, we're going to drive and roll from behind the cage or "X". The start of this move is predicated upon attacking as if we want to continue before we roll. In addition to this, we also want to look up field as if we're looking to feed right before we use the roll Dodge. For the technique of the roll Dodge itself. We want to prioritize stick protection. So after we roll, one of the more common mistakes is changing hands and leaving our stick behind us. So we want to do our best to do what's called lead with our stick, which means keeping our stick out in front of our body after we change direction.
The hitch and drive is one of the most effective ways to create separation from our defender. And it's also very, very simple to use. What we want to do is have body language as if we're about to take a shot, and then at the last second we change our mind, and in this case we're going to drive straight forward. So as we set up this hitch and drive, it's important to note that our eyes are on the target and not necessarily the defender. This emulates the body language of shooting technique and allows us to sell the shot a little bit more effectively.
Mistake: The ball is dropped when performing the face dodge.
Solution: Be sure the top hand is relaxed as the player pulls across their face. Check that both arms are moving together when the stick is pulled to the opposite side of the body.
Mistake: The defender checks the ball out of the stick.
Solution: During a roll dodge, make sure that the player steps around, not just beside, their opponent. Make sure the body is between the defender and the stick at all times to maximize stick protection. Make sure the player accelerates after the dodge and seals off their opponent leading with their stick.
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