Defending the Dodge: Strong Hand vs Strong Hand from Behind the Cage

This week’s Coaches Corner is written by All-Pro and Team USA Defenseman, Matt Dunn. Matt most recently was recognized as the PLL Defensive Player of the Year. We asked him to share his thoughts on how to defend the difficult Strong Hand vs Strong Hand dodges from X:


Defending the Dodge: Strong Hand vs Strong Hand from Behind the Cage

While a few may prefer it, it is not uncommon for defenders to struggle with covering players of the same dominant hand (i.e., RH vs RH, or LH vs LH). Since the stick is naturally downfield in a scenario where we have a RH vs RH dodge, defenders are forced to determine the best strategy to deter topside at the appropriate times (e.g., a dodger trying to turn the corner at GLE).

For simplicity’s sake, we will break this defensive strategy down into 2 Options:

1) Natural Hand Positioning

  • The stick remains downfield
    • Player punches hands out in a “cross-check” position
    • Bottom hand on stick is now responsible for preventing dodger from getting top-side
  • Player must more aggressively get their hips around dodger to “turn them back” than on the other side of the cage
    • Helmet aligned with dodger’s upfield shoulder
    • Hips facing pylon on a dodge from GLE
  • Alternatively to “turning them back”, a player could drive the dodger “high and wide” enough to eliminate a quality shot
    • Important to note – stick being downfield risks a good shooter still getting a shot off in this scenario, just lower %
    • Hash’s on a football field can be a good marker for how “wide” to drive, fading shot outside the hash is a shot we might even want to allow
  • This technique relies on body positioning to overcome the disadvantage

2) V-Hold Positioning

  • Defender crosses his stick to topside, forming a “v” with between his shaft and his forearm
  • Hips do not need to get around as fully since stick limits topside options
  • Important for player not to bring his “trail leg through” when v-holding, as this entices a roll-back
  • This technique relies on your stick/hands to overcome the disadvantage



Pros and Cons

There are pro’s and con’s to each approach. Determining when to use one or the other can become a rather complex discussion which typically boils down to:

  1. What are the dodger’s strength’s and tendencies?
  2. What are the on-ball defender’s strengths?
  3. Where are you on the field?
  4. What is the team defensive game plan?

Adequate answers to these questions will require a much deeper dive to be covered in a later post, but for the time being it is important to understand these 2 options (natural hand vs v-hold), that there are pro’s and con’s to both, and that when to use each is dependent upon the questions laid out above.

“Natural Hand Positioning” Drills

In our training sessions, we focused on the guys primarily utilizing natural hand positioning. The reason we drilled this, was to get the guys used to working on getting their hips upfield in RH vs RH scenarios. Since a V-Hold requires less effort (because you do not have to move your feet as much to get your hips upfield), guys tend to default to this rather than use it strategically. I wanted to challenge our guys to take good approach angles and use proper footwork to get their hips upfield on RH dodgers. I believe getting comfortable in natural hand positioning allows us to default to a solid more controlled position, where we can then learn to v-hold in addition to it if necessary.

Note Brad Johnson’s progression in the videos below.

Video #1: He is open and allows a RH dodger up the hash, tight to the crease and virtually untouched to get a clean shot off.


Video #2: Drilling approach angles to RH dodger and getting hips around to take away topside.


Video #3: Better approach and footwork shading the RH forces dodger wider and higher before shot release – on the release, Brad is upfield enough to disrupt the shot.

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