The most common way to get free is by probably using the ‘Dodge’. I’m not sure if many coaches are teaching the dodge and let us not assume that players use this on court. If you have a close look at how your player are getting free, you will be surprised how many can’t dodge and are doing a boring straight lead to the ball.
Prelim work is the way to go, taking pressure off the thrower. Again, when you watch your team play, notice that the players are not attempting to get free until the ball is caught. This leaves the thrower three seconds to find a safe pass. What if the thrower could turn around and find she/he had at least two options completely free of defence? Yes, I know this is a dream and maybe I’m being very optimistic about attackers performing prelim work and I can promise you this is a reality, you just have to coach it.
I love coaching the dodge. Seven attackers, seven defenders. That’s my go to saying when player’s pigeon hole themselves and say they either can’t defend or can’t attack. No matter what position the player is dominant in they should all have the same skill set. This makes for a very strong team.
When teaching a new skill try to the layering effect. Accreditation would have you complete the seven steps and layering is very similar.
I will bullet point the coaching of the dodge and layer the drill and then add it to a game situation:
- Players get into pairs with two cones (set the cones about three metres apart)
- Starting in the middle of the cones, one is the attacker and one is the defender. Feet as wide as shoulders, soft knees, running arms and nice upright position. Avoid leaning forward. Players using outside leg to change direction which is transferring their weight and pushing off strong
- Please let the defence know to be passive as the attacker is learning. NO BALL
- Attacker takes a starting position. Standing close behind the defence with half the body of the attacker behind the defender. Attacker needs to be able to have the defence looking one way……the open side
- The first lead is the most important. Once the defender has committed to looking one way, the first lead from the attacker will be to the blind side, the side the defender is not looking. This will make the defender have to reposition and puts them on the backfoot which gives the attacker an advantage
- First lead is not a sidestep but two fast strides to convince the defender they are going to receive a ball. Once the defender goes for the bait than change direction and go the other way. This is a single dodge.
- If the attacker was to lead one way, then the other and lead a third time this is a double dodge
- Players both have a go without a ball, to get their bearings with their footwork, also their leads. The last lead to the thrower has an arch not a direct drive to the sideline
- Once the players have had a turn then ask them to form groups of three and add a ball
- Defence still passive and cones still in position, attackers perform the skill six times then rotate
- After they have had a go at this then take the cones away and thrower now faces the other direction and throws the ball up a little, catches it then turns to pass. Three seconds starts when the thrower catches the ball. I call this ‘play your own’
- Defence can try now to apply more pressure
- This is where it gets exciting. Attackers can no do a straight lead, a single dodge or a double dodge. This way the defender can’t read the play
- I mentioned prelim work so coaching the attacker to start the movement before the ball is caught by the thrower is adding to the layering effect
- Close to end game is to have players paired up down the court and the ball can move through the attackers. Go through with no hands over from the defenders then ask defenders to put hands over the ball when you believe the attackers can handle the stronger defence. Slowly pressure is being applied and this is becoming a game situation
- Completion of teaching the ‘Dodge’ is putting into play. Setting up half court, not from a centre pass, have a GD or WD play their own ball and down the court we go
It is important if you have coached a skill that players apply it to the game. Keep stats on how many times players are using the dodge out on court. You could even do stats on how many players are sidestepping on the dodge or having a weak first lead. Running and strong leads makes the dodge hard for defence. Ask a defender. Whenever I coach this, defenders always ask ‘how do I defend this? Reply is ‘that’s a whole new session’.
Get players dodging and I know it’s hard work and takes more effort but the results will make such a difference to the attacking skills of your team. This is only a dodge as there are so many other ways to get free. Have fun!