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Become an Artful Dodger

Posted Wednesday, July 01, 2009 by Richard Butler
Sept. 11, 2007
Note: This article appeared in the "Lacrosse Classroom" section of Lacrosse magazine in January/February 2006. If there's a topic you'd like to see covered in the "Classroom," e-mail section editor Matt DaSilva at mdasilva@uslacrosse.org.

by Mark Millon, Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Look at it from a defenseman's perspective: balance and positioning are his two top priorities (aside from the occasional hack to your forearm) in stopping you. Your top two priorities then, as an attackman, should be to get him off balance and out of position.

No one among the professional ranks is better at doing so than Mark Millon, a former All-World competitor with the U.S. men's team and reigning Major League Lacrosse co-offensive player of the year.

Lacrosse magazine met with Millon to talk about his four favorite dodges. Heed these, and you'll be beating your opponent in no time.

Split Dodge

The split dodge is also referred to as a north-south dodge, because you run straight at the defensive player and your shoulders are square to the goal. This dodge capitalizes on a player's speed, which is one of my strengths. The dodge is so effective because it freezes the defensive player and puts him in a vulnerable position.

The first key to a successful split dodge is to create some separation between you and your defender. You can accomplish this by looping out wide before you catch a pass from your teammate.

Once you receive the pass, you want to square your shoulders to the goal and begin the dodge. Most defensemen are taught not to go out to where you catch the pass because, technically, you are not a threat. In the following sequence, I will outline a split dodge for a left-handed shot or pass (reverse the steps for a right-handed shot or pass):

1. After you've established your 10 yards of separation, you want to cradle your stick horizontally in your right hand and run close to full speed directly at your defender.

2. When you get to within a stick-and-a-half length, turn your head and shoulders hard to the right for a split second.

3. Quickly turn your head and shoulders back to the left and transfer the stick into your left hand -- keep it as close to your body as possible. After your stick is transferred, get your right arm up close to eye level to protect your stick. Continue to keep your head up, stick tight to your body and accelerate past the defensive player toward the goal.

Inside Roll

The inside roll can be an extremely effective dodge if executed properly. It is successful based on the fundamental principal of defense, which is to not allow an attackman or midfielder to pass the goal line extended and turn the corner for an easy goal. As an offensive player trying to execute the inside roll, we want to "sell" the fact that we will attempt to turn the corner on the defenseman.

As with any dodge, the first key is to get to the correct spot on the field to start the dodge. For the inside roll, you don't want to go too high past the goal line or you will get caught in a quick double team. If you don't come high enough, however, you won't have an angle to shoot.

I like to use an imaginary spot about 4 yards outside the pipe and about 4 yards above the goal line extended.

Protect your stick and get to that imaginary spot. Plant your feet with your back to the defender, to make sure you establish a very strong base so that you cannot be pushed over. As soon as you feel pressure on your upper body from the defensive player, turn your body 180 degrees, faking toward the outside while keeping the foot you have up-field stationary as a pivot foot. Continue to keep your stick near your inside shoulder, making sure you do not switch hands. If you make the pivot correctly you will "seal" the defenseman off with your leg.

The final step is to continue to the front of the goal and get a quick shot off, with your stick coming back no further than your ear. Try not to fade behind the goal after your spin, because you risk losing the angle on the goal. Remember to set up your inside roll dodge early in the game by making the defender think you are going to try to turn the corner on him.

Rocker Dodge

You can use the rocker dodge all over the field, but will probably be most effective in the same spot on the field where you use an inside roll dodge (4 yards up and 4 yards out from goal line extended). The rocker will also be much more effective if you use it after you've just beaten the defenseman on an inside roll for a goal.

To start the rocker, follow all the beginning steps for the inside roll. Tuck your stick, get to the 4-up-and-4-out position, plant your legs firmly, and feel for the pressure on your upper body. At the point you feel the pressure, you want to "rock" -- or turn -- your upper body and head about 90 degrees inside, making sure you convince the defenseman you're executing an inside roll. As the defenseman steps behind you to stop the roll, quickly turn back and pivot off the up-field foot for a quick shot.

Zig-Zag Dodge

The zig-zag dodge is another one of my favorites, especially on end-line restarts (from "X") directly behind goal.

To start the dodge, you want to run directly at your defenseman with your stick in one hand and protected well. As you get close to the defenseman, you want to reverse field and start backing away. As you back away keep your head high and place your bottom hand on your stick. This will tip off the defenseman that you are about to make a pass, and he should attempt to get a check on your hands.

As soon as he steps toward you to make the check, reverse field again toward the goal for a pass or shot. As the game goes on and you beat the player on this dodge, he may stop trying to get a check on your hands. This will enable you to feed easily all game!

Mark Millon, an attackman for the Long Island Lizards, founded Millon Lacrosse (www.millonlacrosse.com), which hosts camps in Baltimore, Long Island, Massachusetts, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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