Lacrosse Goaltender Fundamentals

Goaltending in lacrosse assumes its position as one of the most fickle beasts in all of sports. A position dominated by the athletic and physical skills of explosiveness, balance, coordination…the goalie must balance his inner game through the development of emotional regulation, spiritual growth, and mental endurance.

The goaltender can come in various shapes and sizes.

Developing Stickwork

Like most players in lacrosse, the goaltender position requires a complete command of the stickwork demands of our sport. The goaltender is asked to catch, block, or interfere with a shot reaching speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. The uniqueness of lacrosse is added to shot release angles and speeds, as there is not a constant lacrosse shooting shape, which allows offensive players to release the ball from multiple heights, angles, and release angles. The goalie must remain focused on the ‘crosse of the opponent, which aids in perception and anticipation of attempted shot locations.

As stated earlier, the development of stick skills should be the predominate focus of a beginner, intermediate, and expert goaltender. The goaltender is required not only to track and catch the lacrosse ball, but is the primary leader and “general” of the clear. The goalie should have the skill to throw a 30 yard pass to a moving target running at up to 15 miles per hour. The goalie must be able to throw a multitude of passes which requires a feel for his stick which allows for both a “frozen rope” or a “touch pass.”

  • The goalie should always perform and workout in team-oriented stickwork drills.
    • This includes ground ball drills.
  • The goalie should be adept at wall-ball drills.
  • The goalie should properly repeat the types of throws he must make in the game.
    • Pass to Banana Cut
    • Pass to Midfielder running at different angles
      1. Upfield at various degrees (90, 45, 180)
      2. Downfield at various degrees
  • Toward sidelines
  • “Touch” Pass to midfielder over the midline
  • Deep pass to Attackers
  • The goalie should train to pass with his hands at his ready position. This will allow for quicker outlets to open teammates.

Goalie Coaching Terminology

Keep Your Head Square (or Open):

  • Keeping the Face of the Head of your stick showing as much Area as possible.
  • Do not want to turn the head too Early or start cradling the shot too Early, thus decreasing the amount of Saving Area
  • You want to insure yourself that you make the save before anything else.
  • This extends to all 7 Spots:
    • 1) STICK SIDE HIGH
    • 2) OFF STICK HIGH
    • 3/4) STICK/ OFF STICK HIP
    • 5/6) STICK/OFF STICK LOW
    • 7) FIVE-HOLE

Keep Your Body Square

  • Keep your TORSO, HIPS, Shoulders, Knees, Feet Square and Facing the Shooter
  • You do not want to turn with the shot because it only decreases your Body Area that is Blocking the Cage.

Step Through the Ball

  • In Most Shot situations, we want to be always moving through the ball.
  • By moving through the Ball, it Allows you Not only get your Body Behind the Ball, But your Hands will be brought along with.
  • We want to avoid just relying on our hands to make the save, by stepping through the ball you give yourself the added INSURANCE of having your body following through the save- in case your hands don’t get to the ball
  • Your Hands will Naturally Go towards the Ballà GOALIE INSTINCT
  • To do this- you always want to make sure we are brining our trail foot… the foot in which you initially create your drive from- in other words, it is the opposite foot from whichever direction you are headed.

Keep your Hands Down- Smother the Ball

  • In all Low shot situations, we want to do our best to drive our hands down to the field surface, keeping our Head Square, and punching out our bottom hand.
  • By keeping our hands down until we feel the impact of the ball- we will INSURE that we make the save- by creating this wall with our stick, we do not leave anything to chance (i.e. the ball sneaking under the stick)

Trail the Shooter/Be Patient

  • Mostly for Shots on the Run and Sweeps
  • The key to this is to stay patient on your arc. You do not want to take that extra half step as a shooter runs down the alley, thus allowing him to see more of the net to the far side.
  • The reason is- not only is your momentum moving in the opposite direction, but you are increasing the distance you need to travel to a point where you cant get to shots that are placed on the far-side pipe.
  • Also, the shooter is looking at the goalie and waiting for you to make that movement, then will shoot. If you are caught mid step without being set- you are almost making that far side save Impossible to catch up to.
  • Be patient, hold your ground- you will make the shooter’s life a lot more difficult by forcing them to shoot near side because:

1) they cannot put as much velocity into the shot

2) they are not mechanically tuned to shoot there every time

3) the angle is a lot smaller – shots will go wide

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