Learning How To Avoid Hits
Dodging is the key to creating space between you and your defender, getting your hands free, and drawing a slide. As an offensive player, dodging should be considered one of the focal points of your game. Your ability to dodge is critical to individual and team success on the field. Dodging is the igniter of all settled scoring opportunities on the offensive half of the field, period. Here are three things that you can work on to improve your own dodging skills, which will in turn improve your team, and will help you to win more games. Take control, get out there, and get better!
Having quicker feet than your defender will automatically trip him up. Some people are born with naturally quicker feet than others, but that’s not set in stone. You can drastically improve your foot speed. Raw foot speed is also not the only tool employable to beat your defender. When dodging, your defender will most likely be in a stance forcing you to the your off-hand.
Your goal should be to attack his or her top foot, getting them to open up their hips and effectively give up the middle. So, not only does the speed of your footwork matter, but the positioning of your feet and how you go about attacking your defender does as well. Practice your footwork by dodging against something as simple as a stationary cone and finishing strong after completing your dodge. Explode out of your dodge, give it one solid shake, and finish -- no need to try anything too fancy.
Remember, all you have to do is go around the defender or even draw a slide and dump it to the open man. Offensive midfielders and attackmen should work on tuning their footwork by completing ladder progression drills, cone drills, and one-on-ones. Make sure to do the ladder and cone drills with a stick in your hands as well! If you want to leave your defender in the dust, it all starts with footwork.
Work on Your Off-Hand
Being proficient and fluid with both hands is key to becoming the ultimate offensive threat. Similar to basketball, lacrosse defenders will try to force you to your weak hand. The easy solution is to simply not have a weak hand. A midfielder or attackman who can dodge and shoot with either hand equally is the most dangerous player on the field.
Developing a strong off-hand takes time and commitment, so don't get discouraged. It’s lonely and hard work, but the only way to improve your off-hand is to find a large brick wall and start tossing. Try throwing one-handed, this will develop your wrist and forearm muscles on your weak hand. Make sure you keep a 90 degree angle at your elbow, point your elbow towards your target, come over the top with your stick, and snap your wrist at the peak of the movement. If the ball is going too high, choke up on the shaft of your stick more. All your practice will be worth it once a defender decides to overplay your right side and you can make him pay with the left.
Keep Your Head Up
Your ability to see the entire field when carrying the ball is critical to making plays. It sounds simple, but most players get the ball stripped or caught in a double team because they fail to keep their head up. Keeping your head up allows you to see the slide coming or through the defense to your cutting teammates. You can’t hit the wide open man on the crease if you're bull-dodging the defender with your head down. We promise that more creative vision, reaction time, and ability to keep possession will lead to more goals scored -- and isn't that the goal at the end of the day?
(Related: Read about how to improve your strength in the gym here.)
At the end of the day, you'll only be as good as the work you put in. Even if you're naturally gifted, you'll still need to master the small stuff before you can truly take your game to the next stage. Some of them are difficult and improving your weak hand will be one of the most frustrating demands you'll ever come across, so stick with it, literally! On the other hand, you can improve your game just as much by simply learning how to keep your head up and on a swivel. So, big or small, these tips will have you elevating your game in no time -- the only standing between you and your goals is yourself, so get working!