After a goalie makes a save, his or her team is now on offense.
If you’ve read my post on leading the clear, you’d know how to go through your progressions for an outlet pass.
But in the event a goalie has no open outlets he/she will exit the crease and may find themselves carrying the ball up the field.
Here’s a quick primer on the different dodges for goalies to practice so we can leave riding attackman in our dust.
The Face Dodge
The face dodge was my bread and butter move when it came to juking attackman.
It works so well for 2 reasons:
The majority of riding attackman don’t play solid defense. They just try to make a hero check.
The goalie stick is so large, attackman get drawn to it like a red cape for a bull
Pull the stick back as if you’re going to make a pass, then pull it in front of your face and watch the opposing attackman look like a fool as he tries to check a goalie stick that’s no longer there. Then you continue the clear up the field north/south.
Here is Kyle Harrison explaining how to execute the face dodge:
The split dodge is very similar to the face dodge except in the split dodge after pulling the stick in front of our face we switch hands. Since most goalies don’t have a strong off-hand I recommend you stick with the face dodge.
The toe drag is also similar to the face dodge except in the toe drag we cross our stick low in front of the defender. Instead of crossing the stick face level you crosse it toe level. If you’ve wound up to throw a sidearm pass and the riding attackman comes at you high, it’s a great opportunity to toe drag.
Here’s a toe drag in action from Syracuse goalie Asa Goldstock so you know what I’m referring to:
In the bull dodge, goalies should make sure not to push off with their free arm, because this is a penalty and will result in a turnover.
If you’re a small goalie like me, don’t try the bull dodge. This move is for larger goalies with mass.
In the video above the goalie also performs a “hot pizza” technique where he carries the ball out in front of his body with a one hand. This is a great move to avoid getting checked from behind.
Here’s another classic bull dodge from Army’s David Symmes for your viewing pleasure:
The Roll Dodge
The roll dodge requires strong weak-hand stick skills which goalies typically don’t have.
But if you’re a goalie who’s spent time developing their ball carrying skills with their weak hand then feel free to include this dodge in your arsenal.
The roll dodges can leave slower riding attackman in the dust. In this dodge, a goalie starts in one direction then pivots backwards in the other direction with their back to the riding attackman.
If done right, the goalie player rolls off the attackman and moves upfield north/south.
Here’s a video explaining the roll dodge:
The Hitch Dodge
A hitch dodge is the equivalent of basketball’s pump fake.
Either with your shoulders or stick you’ll fake as if you’re going to throw a pass in the attempt to get the riding attackman to react or commit. Then you can run around him/her or run into open space and make a crisp outlet pass.
Here is Max Seibald explaining how to do the hitch dodge:
Side note: Nice save at 1:13 in that video, huh?
When Not To Dodge
As a goalie our responsibility is to clear the ball and get it into the hands of our offense so they can do their thing.
Therefore, we should never attempt risky dodges where we could lose possession of the ball and even worse, give up an empty net goal.
I recommend goalies only dodge when we’re forced to. We’re not looking to take on riding attackman via a dodge.
But if everyone is covered and there’s no open outlet and a riding attackman on the goalie, then one of these dodges could come in handy.
In every case, I always recommend goalies pull away into open space and deliver a crisp pass to a teammate versus trying to take on a riding attackman via a dodge.
Dodging Requires Stick Skills
As a goalie you should have some of the best stick skills on the team.
If that statement doesn’t define you then add wall ball into your training sessions until it does.
Strong stick skills will help you out in all of the dodges I’ve described above. In addition, great stick skills directly translate into move saves from strong hand eye coordination.
Our primary responsibility is to stop the ball but that doesn’t mean goalies can’t learn a few dodges to make riding attackman look like fools.
When it comes to dodges for goalies there’s really just 3 options: the face dodge, the bull dodge, and the roll dodge. If you’re a smaller goalie, don’t try the bull dodge. If you have bad off-hand stick skills avoid the roll dodge.
Better yet, be careful with dodging as a goalie and really only attempt a dodge when there’s no other alternative.
Of course you could always be like Blaze:
Until next time! Coach Damon
Any other different types of dodges that you goalies do? Let me know about it in the comments.
Lacrosse is my passion! The game has given me so much and this blog is my way of giving back to the lax community. Specifically the most bad a$$ part of that community - the goalies! After learning to play goalie from scratch, I wanted to create a site where I could share what I learned with others so they too can become champions in the crease and in life. Learn more about Coach Damon.
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11 thoughts on “Lacrosse Goalie’s Quick Guide to Dodging”
Love the article coach! My go to move is always the roll dodge just due to the fact I used to play midfield and have above average stick skills with my goalie stick (plus it looks awesome when done right and gets my teammates pumped!)
Thanks Austin! Yep whatever works and whatever the goalie is comfortable with. A well executed goalie roll dodge is a thing a beauty – you’re right haha
Hey coach, one quick question regarding clearing. Do you have any tips regarding shaking a riding attackman off of one of your low defenders if there is ever a situation where you find yourself walking it up but not frantically running around the back field? One my greatest problems I have is rushing the clear too fast and turning over the ball after a great save. Thanks for the help
Hey JP! Not sure if I understood the question fully. Are you asking how to free up a lower defender? If you’re uncovered there’s a 2×1 there. Just move up field with the defender and the riding attackman will have to choose who to cover, you or the defender. If the goalie is covered by a riding attackman AND the defender is covered too, use on of the dodges in this post to buy some time, then find the open middie – there has to be one if the attack is covering both low defenders AND the goalie. Let me know if you were asking something else.
Great article. I love to go with a toe drag from time to time when clearing. I only do it when I can get the attackman to leave his feet when throwing a fake pass. It works whenever you can get them in the air and your bench goes wild if your goalie toe drags someone. No better feeling than making the guy who scored on three crease dumps on you look stupid.
Thanks Ian! Ah yes the toe drag! Never used that one myself but I can definitely see the bench going crazy when you toe dragged the crap out of an attackman haha. Thanks for the comment.
What about hitches?
Added a tutorial on the hitch dodge. Good catch!
Hi Coach Damon, I have question about dodging and checking for girls lax. I was playing a game yesterday and all of the girls started playing dirty in the second quarter because the refs were not calling barely anything the most they called is about 2 calls. I was always getting out of the crease to get the ball every time I got it and lifted up above my head one of the girls would check me as hard as she could and got 3 goals on me while I was out of the crease. As I was dodging I had my stick above my head, and she checked it, I never got any clears in the 2nd quarter. Do you have any tips to prevent that?
Hi Coach! Dodges for goalies with possession only? We just played a sevens tourney, and my goalie son was forced to defend crease shot after crease shot from a wide open attack when D couldn’t slide. My kid stayed disciplined, and defended what he could, from the line. It made me wonder: can he engage a shooter on the crease more physically? Instead of waiting for the shot?
That’s these dodges are for when the goalie has the ball and needs to juke a riding attackman. Goalies can absolutely leave the crease and engage attacker physically. There is a right time and place of course. Also goalie needs to be on the larger side. I’m 5’8 so against a larger attackman there was no way i was knocking them down, better probability for me to stay back and make the save.