Dodging is a key aspect of playing lacrosse. The objective is to get past your defender and score a goal. For dodging to be successful, an offensive player must dodge well enough to beat his defender consistently. If you are a one-trick pony (and do not have multiple dodges in your arsenal), it might be time upgrade your dodging skills to likes of top professional lacrosse players like Tom Schreiber, Mikey Sowers, and Grant Ament. In this article, we break down different types of lacrosse dodges, ranging from the most basic to the most advanced, and included some simple dodging drills to help you get started.
Types Of Lacrosse Dodges
1) Face Dodge
The face dodge is the simplest of all dodges considering you do not need to change the positions of your hand on your stick. This dodge essentially only requires you to pull the stick across your face to the other side of your body but you don’t change where you hands are on the stick. You would do this to use your body to hide your stick from a defender without wanting to change hands. Two main reasons for this are following: you may be in a position on the field where if you switch hands your shooting angle may be reduced or you may have to roll away after using the dodge and do not want to change the positions of your hands twice. The best time to use this dodge is when a defender is recklessly rushing to approach you as you are trying to shoot. Instead of shooting, employ the face dodge and the helpless defender will pass right by you and you can get a few steps closer to the goal for a shot. If you want to see how professionals use the face dodge by threatening shots from outside, you should watch Myles Joes of the Redwoods and his highlights.
In indoor or box lacrosse, the face dodge is used very commonly due to the desire to keep your stick in your strong hand and there are rarely passes transferring through ‘X’ or behind the net due to lack of space. Therefore, players in the lower corners want to keep their stick in their dominant hand to keep better shooting angles and get passes off quickly if they have to roll away from a defender. It is also much more common to shoot after a face dodge without returning the stick to the original side, known as a twister, in the indoor game.
2) Split Dodge
The split dodge is very similar to the face dodge but involves switching your hands’ placement on the stick. The goal with this dodge to use head fakes and footwork to make your defender think you are going one way but you plant your foot, switch hands, and go in the opposite direction. It is one of the most common initiation dodges at all levels of the sport. Shifty offensive players see success using this move at even the highest levels of the sport and there are plenty of highlights. Unlike the face dodge, you typically aren’t trying to sell a shot to bait a defensemen. But, you can still use a split dodge to take advantage of a bad slide. Current professional players you should watch to learn from their split dodges are Tom Schreiber, Rob Pannell, and Grant Ament.
3) Roll Dodge
The roll dodge is typically coupled with a split or face dodge. The basic idea is you initiate a dodge and pick a direction but quickly change directions again. However, when you change direction, you roll or turn your back to the defender to change direction. This is a great dodge to consider when you expect a defender to try to overextend with body checks.
4) Question Mark Dodge
The question mark is a dodge is typically done at “the island” or 5 yds above and outside of the goal. The dodge is named this way because you pretty much run the pattern of a question mark. Starting from X, initiate a split dodge and get to the island. At that point, you should be in contact with the defender. The idea is to step and lean like you are going to fight for the topside. Instead, you roll back and shoot quickly with your hands free. This dodge makes it very difficult to see where your hands are for the goalie and the close proximity to the defender makes it difficult to throw checks which disrupt your shot. Rob Pannell is the attackman to watch if you want to see how this dodge is supposed to work.
5) Bull Dodge
The bull dodge is about as straight forward as a dodge can get. With a running start, protect your stick and run through the defender. This dodge actually comes in handy on gritty plays between the restraining line during a clear or ground ball after a faceoff. But, of course, this type of dodge can be used to score. As a midfielder, you can take advantage of defensive midfielders not pressing out against you and utilize the bull dodge. From ‘X’, you can take advantage of what is known as the defense being “hung up”. Dylan Molloy, 2016 Tewaaraton winner and attackmen for the PLL Chrome, is the player to watch to learn about this dodge.
Lacrosse Dodges Drills
Dodging drills are merely about reps doing the explicit dodge. Repetitions help get you comfortable with the footwork so you do not have to think about the execution of the dodge in a game situation. These drills also double as shooting drills and will get you comfortable shooting after dodges all over the field.
Face Dodge Drill
This drill is pretty simple. Start ten yards above and directly in front of the net with a few balls or a pile of them. Simply start a shooting motion but bring the stick across your face, rotate your body, and approach the net to shoot. As you get more comfortable with the motion, change up where you shoot, throw a fake or two before you shoot, and change the starting location of the dodge. Adding a partner to approach as a defender will help you get an idea of how you should time the dodge in a live setting.
Split Dodge Drill
If you are a midfielder, set up a cone ten yards above and ten yards outside on the side of your dominant hand. Approach the cone at a slight angle with respect to the restrainer line, start to break down, and split dodge in the direction of the alley. Work to shoot on the run. As you get more acquainted with the dodge, start splitting topside. Using the split dodge up top is about the threat of not having to go down the alley and taking advantage of it. Of course, you should also work the opposite side of the field. This drill will work on your change of direction and shooting on the run with both hands.
If you are an attackman, initiate from X and split dodge to the island on either side. Work on turning topside to shoot or shoot fading away from the net.
Both attackmen and midfielders should also work on initiating from the wing, first splitting topside. Eventually work on splitting towards X but working your way under the defender and back up towards the crease. Dodges from the wing have become a very powerful weapon in the modern professional game.
Question Mark Drill
This drill is an extension of the split dodge drill from X. Start with a split dodge from X and go to either island. Instead of committing topside, take a step upfield, roll back, and shoot very quickly. This drill is enhanced tenfold with a partner since contact with the defender at the island is paramount to executing this dodge effectively.
Advanced Lacrosse Dodges
6) Toe Drag Dodge
In short, the toe drag dodge is either a face or a split dodge, depending on if you switch hands, where you pull the stick across you body with the head of the stick facing downward. It’s a very flashy dodge and takes advanced control of your stick to do in a live game situation. This dodge is common in both the indoor and outdoor games, and here is an older highlight of Lyle Thompson performing one in 2014 for the Georgia Swarm, his current NLL team.
7) Hitch Dodge
The hitch dodge is essentially a face dodge without the face dodge, if that makes sense. The goal is to sell the shot in order to get the defender or slide to overcommit and, instead of shooting, take a hitch step and run to the side to create separation and maybe a better shooting angle. Here is a simple example and drill you can perform to practice this dodge.
8) Rocker Dodge
This dodge, like the question mark, is executed at the island. It is actually almost the opposite of the question mark dodge. Once at the island, you want to create contact with your defender. To perform the rocker dodge, take a step like you are going to roll underneath, or curl away, to get the defender to commit. Then, quickly switch directions and fight for topside to get a better angle for your shot.
9) Inside Roll Dodge
The inside roll dodge is just a roll dodge but utilized at goal line extended (GLE) while in contact with your defender. You want to force the defender to lean into you and roll quickly towards the net to increase your shooting angle. Kyle Jackson of the PLL Chaos is a great player to watch and learn about this dodge.
10) Finalizer Dodge
The Finalizer dodge is a sequential combination of a roll dodge and a split/face/toe drag dodge. You can do a split first into a roll dodge or vice versa. The dodge is only really called this when it is performed at ‘X’ as it is known to make defenders trip over the back of the net. Ryan Powell explains this dodge for Inside Lacrosse and his brother, Mikey Powell, was an absolute legend in general, but also at this move.