Once basic ball protection has been covered off in both static and dynamic fashion (as seen in our Basic Practice Plans), the next step is to “make moves” to get around defenders, learning how to change directions and change speeds while manipulating the lacrosse stick.
The way to protect the ball in lacrosse, as in most other sports, is to keep your body between the ball and the checker.
A dodge is a quick movement (or fake movement), usually toward the opponents net, with or without the ball, using quick foot and sometimes arm/hand/head movements. There are many different styles of dodges, described primarily by the action taken toward the net, usually beginning just beyond a sticks length away from a defender.
Whether it’s box (indoor) lacrosse or field (outdoor) lacrosse, the following dodges will allow players to get more quality scoring opportunities, which for most new players translates to "fun" while playing the game of lacrosse.
If this juke were in the offensive zone it would be important to keep two hands on the stick (“triple threat position”) while executing the movement. A juke is the most basic dodge in lacrosse.
A "juke" is a fake cut one way (“jab-step”), then planting hard off of a stiff outside leg while the inside leg is bent and parallel, eventually extending explosively in the opposite direction. Off-ball, a quick “side step” in one direction and then moving in the opposite direction is often enough to engage one’s check and keep them off balance. It is also very common for offensive ball carriers to “jab-step" then try to beat their check overtop for a sweep shot.
Otherwise known as a “counter-step” or “hitch step,” these “steps” can be utilized to deceptively mask a ball-carrier’s true intention, and later be combined with other dodges, like the face dodge or roll dodge.
A roll dodge can be either clockwise or counter clockwise, exploding in the opposite direction while pushing off of the outside leg.
A “roll dodge” is a 180° or full 360° rotation of the body while engaging a defender, which can also help protect the ball as a player carries it toward the net. The roll dodge is usually accompanied by some sort of change in direction (usually east-west in orientation) and is sometimes used by players to free their hands for a shot on goal. It could be a drop-step "underneath" or spin "overtop" of the defender.
Where the opportunity presents itself, offensive players should roll dodge toward the butt-end of the defender’s stick ("away from their stick"), initiate contact with their lead shoulder from approximately a sticks length from the defender, and accelerate out of the dodge.
The "face dodge" is one of the most common dodges you will see in lacrosse whereby a ball carrier brings the ball across their body (their "face"), rotating their hips and accelerating out of the dodge, all while keeping the ball “tucked in” and tight to their body; it is a classic move when set-up with a fake shot (“crow hop”). This move and others are utilized to get around aggressive defenders, or to free up time & space for a quality shot. Where the opportunity presents itself, offensive players should attack the butt-end of the defender’s stick ("away from their stick") at roughly a stick's length away.
The ideal scenario where all three of these dodges can be incorporated into one series of dodges would see the defender catching a pass, attacking their defender with a quick juke, face dodging underneath, and then when the defender is trying to catch up with them, roll dodging back overtop for a screen shot; or in a perfect world, leaving them naked in front of the net with the goalie. The timing of the dodge cannot be understated, and the art of dodging lies in knowing exactly when and where to dodge. If the beginning lacrosse player incorporates these dodges into their game, they are going to have much more success (fun).