What The Heck Is A “Speed Dodge”?

Photo Credit: Larry Palumbo

Photo Credit: Larry Palumbo

I was watching a Rochester Rattlers game a few weeks back and one of the announcers stated that John Ranagan loves the “speed dodge.” I tweeted the following, and a couple people (maybe) saw it:

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 10.12.54 AM

I said all that somewhat in jest, but now that I’m hearing the term used more and more, I really need to figure out what a “speed dodge” actually is. It can’t be as simple as just running by someone, can it? As I tweeted above, simply running by someone isn’t a dodge… it’s just bad defense.

Thankfully, Major League Lacrosse put up a textbook version of a “speed dodge” on YouTube this week. Let’s take a look:

Brent Adams is definitely crafty there, and he definitely uses his speed to his advantage, but that goal was not a simple “speed dodge.” Not even close. In the first six seconds, Adams utilizes a Z dodge, where he cuts in to the defender, then cuts out, creating space, and then cuts forward at a sharp angle. The movement makes a Z shape, hence the name.

Once he is behind the net, he waits for the defender to take a bad angle (which he does), no slide is ready, and he takes it to the rack uncontested and scores.

Final Verdict: Not a speed dodge. That was a Z dodge, and then bad defense.

Maybe there is a better, slightly more hidden version of a “speed dodge” out there? There is, and it’s by Ned Crotty, which makes sense. It comes at the 1:44 mark, below:

Now this is a better example of a true speed dodge, I think. It had to be! The other video was something else, so it couldn’t be a speed dodge. But the above video? It might work. Crotty has the stick in his left, he goes left, and he runs by his defender, who took a slightly poor angle on the play,  on the UNDERNEATH angle. He does switch hands at the end, but that is just to finish, isn’t it?

It depends on how you look at it. For me, this is actually just a delayed “under” move, where you beat your defender to a spot on the field (in this case it’s the crease) and then you switch hands (or shoot backhand) and finish. 90% of the dodge is spent in one hand, and then you drop under. Typically, it looks like this, and begins with a face dodge or split dodge:

In the case of Crotty, he doesn’t need to face or split dodge to get underneath, because his speed does that for him. Does that make it a speed dodge? In my opinion, no, it doesn’t. It’s still an under move, it’s just done a different way. Once the defender has overcommitted, Crotty switches hands, evades the check, and scores.

For me, the “speed dodge” is still one of two things: 1) an alley dodge away from the goal – good defensive approach, and 2) bad defensive approaches creating open lanes to the goal.

Running by someone for a goal is great, and it shows good recognition and IQ for offensive players, but it doesn’t need its own name, the “Speed Dodge.” Instead, we should call it what it is: bad defense.

If it sounds like I’m being unfair to defenders, I’m not. When I played D in college, if I got beat to the inside by someone who doesn’t put any moves on me, my coach was irate, and rightly so. When I let someone run by me without doing anything, they may have used their speed, but the opportunity they got to do so is on me, and my positioning on the field.

We all talk about the importance of athleticism in lacrosse, and it definitely plays a bigger part today than it ever has before, but at the same time, skills have never been better. Do we really want to emphasize the “speed dodge” as a thing, when in the end, it’s so much more than that?


  1. I also have never heard of the ‘speed dodge’. I have however, been teaching it to the teams I coach ever since I began coaching. It sounds contradictory, but give me a chance.

    The first thing I teach my players with regard to scoring is pretty simple. I tell them that they should run to the goal as fast as they can. If the defender doesn’t stop them, then score. The other dodges that are taught (face, split, roll, etc) work in conjunction with running past your defender. Now granted, a decent defender won’t let you simply run by them, but it should be the first thing you try.

    I teach it this way because players have a tendency to complicate things and forget the most obvious course of action.

  2. all i know is I’m hearing the term speed dodge dropped on ESPNU about as much as the word ridiculous, and if there was a drinking game revolving around either of the them, i’d be in the ground