Lacrosse Goalie Positioning in the Goal: A Game of Angles

Nolan-Hector-Class of 2017-Denver-Colorado-Wheat-Ridge-HS-2

Submitted Photo of Nolan-Hector, Class of 2017, Wheat Ridge High School, Denver, CO

Thought of the day – Did you know that A^2 +B^2 = C^2?  Okay well I did too, but that is about the only thing that I remember from 10th grade geometry class.  What has me opining today on angles? Another question we received!

A player reached out to us who was having some understandable troubles aligning themselves correctly in the cage based on where the shooter was.  Understanding lacrosse goalie positioning in the goal can put you in a place to succeed before the shot is even taken. Here are some basic tips on this important topic, maybe they will help you or your players out.

Being a goalie is really about understanding angles. The trick is to always appear to the shooter as though you’re in the center of the goal. This means that they need to be looking between you and the pipes to make a shot. If you’re centered in the goal, you should be able to react to a shot to your left or to your right with equal ability and reaction time.

Work the Arc

This can only happen if you’re in the right position. I would recommend you work on your arc and angles.

Working on your 5-step arc is easy and you can do it by yourself. Just start at the right pipe, looking down goal line extended, then step to 45 degrees, then 90 degrees or centered in the goal, then 45 degrees the other direction, and finally end up at the other pipe.

If you are working on a grass field it is helpful scratch out a section of the dirt with your cleat as a visual reminder at each of the 5 spots.  Work this 5-step pattern until you can do it blind folded. There will be times when you have to adjust yourself here and there, but in general you always want to be in one of these five spots.

Practice Each Step

After practicing this, just have a shooter walk around the arc in front of you. As they walk, practice staying centered. Have the shooter let you know if you’re not centered and which way you need to go to get centered. This can really help you get an idea of what the shooter sees.

After you have worked through that drill a few times, have the shooter start taking shots at different points on the arc. This will help you react and learn in a more real life setting.

Mix it Up: Juggle While You Step

Once you have the steps down you can try juggling while you step, this takes the focus to something else and is a good check to see if you really know what position you are supposed to be in.

It takes time, but just remember you’re playing a game of angles.


3 Lacrosse Goalie Drills for Stepping to the Ball

Lacrosse Goalie Drills for Stepping to the BallGreetings bruise-seekers, we were going through the fan mail and came across the following question: What lacrosse goalie drills for stepping to the ball would you recommend?

Inherent in the question is a great universal truth, that goalies must step towards the ball at all times. Thus we have someone who is well on their way to wisdom.  Go on then.

This is a very basic problem, its elementary really, and yet I worked these drills all through my higher level playing days in high school and college and I continue to coach them. They are basic, however timeless.

Put in some time working just these lacrosse goalie drills for stepping to the ball until you have the basics down, then work them into your daily warm-up routine.

Walk The Line

Hopefully Johnny Cash is your jam (and if you don’t get the reference, well that’s just sad.)

For this drill grab your gear and find a line on a field, straddle the line so you have one foot to the left of it and one to the right.  Think of a shot in your head, or have a coach yell one out, then make the imaginary save.

For example, “Offside Foot” – I’m right handed, so I’m going to lead with my left foot (my offside) and make a 45 degree step forward and to my left, I’m going to follow that up with my right foot as quickly as I can, to stay square and balanced.  While I’m stepping I’m bending my knees slightly and swinging my arms down and out so that the head of my stick will drive into the ground and meet the ball, instead of letting it bounce. So that’s one shot “saved.” You’ll notice that you have taken a step forward (that’s the point!)

Now think of another shot (say…stickside hip) and make that imaginary save, taking another explosive step.  Make enough saves so that you have walked down the line one step (or should I say save) at a time. Focus on technique and making the right moves, not getting down the line as quickly as possible (there’s post practice conditioning for that.)

Mix up where the shots come from and be sure to hit every area multiple times.

Let It Go

Cue the Frozen soundtrack and then drop your stick for this drill, you won’t need it. To begin, get in the correct stance  with your hands placed just like they would be if you were holding your stick.

Only change is to adjust your top wrist/hand so that you can catch a ball bare-hand or in your glove. Have a coach stand about 5 yards outside of the crease and hand throw either lax or tennis balls at you, moving around to different positions.  Have them go through each of the 7 positions in a predictable manner, tossing 3-5 “shots” per area (not very fast.)

For each shot focus on exploding toward where the ball is going, moving your whole body. Focus on moving BOTH your feet, not just your lead foot, and ending in the same position you started in.

Move your hands like you would if your stick was still in them.  Catch the ball with your top hand if you can (this adds some nice hand-eye coordination work), but that’s not the point of the drill. The idea is to get your body behind every shot, and to create muscle memory in making these steps.

Start out slow until you get the feel of it, then focus on exploding to that point and attacking the ball.  Make sure you are stepping toward the ball, not sideways! The idea is to have every shot hit you, thats why tennis balls are nice, and why the speed of the throw should not be crazy fast.)

This is a great basic drill for creating muscle memory and for getting your feet moving before practice and games.

Bucket’s Got A Hole In It

This is an expanded edition of the drill above.  This time use a stick, but one with a head that does not have any mesh in it.  This way the only way to save the shot is by stepping to it and having it hit your body.

You always want the ball to line up with your stick, to line up with your body (all in a straight line). Your shooter can use a stick and back up a little bit for this one (10-12 yards), and a tennis ball is recommended. Again, have a slow to medium shot speed and focus on the stepping movement.  This drill will get you moving to the ball ASAP!

These are some very helpful physical drills that focus on technique and muscle memory, so that come game-time you don’t have to think about it, the step just happens.

The physical is only half the battle though, practicing stepping into the fast moving hard rubber ball is a mental game as much as physical.  Talk yourself through it, repeating things like “step, step, step” or “attack, attack, attack” as you see a shooter winding up.

When you get hit with the ball in live practice or a game try yelling out a victory cry, the expression helps manage some of the pain and makes everyone think you are crazy (that’s the goal!)

Lacrosse Goalie Drills: Stepping from X to Pipe

I got a great question this week from a lacrosse dad. His son plays goalie was having trouble shifting from X to the pipe as the ball passes goal line extended (GLE.) Instead of standing straight, he was squatting down unintentionally.

Have you ever seen how you transition from X to the pipe? It is a really important step for a goalie, as the shooter is just becoming a scoring threat as they pass GLE.

The best place to start is by filming yourself. When you film your movement, you can literally see what you’re doing instead of what you think they’re doing. This doesn’t have to be fancy, just have a friend, coach, or parent use an iPhone or iPad to capture how you make the transition from looking through the net at X to the right and left pipe.

After identifying how you’re stepping, you should walk through some lacrosse goalie drills to make that important step stronger. Jump into the net and have a coach at X. The coach should simply walk toward GLE on both sides and walk through the proper movement. Talk through what you see as the goalie and they can talk through what they see as the shooter

After doing this for a bit, you can switch to a variation of the shot-turn drill. Here you want to have a shooter stand 2-3 yards above GLE. As the goalie, you want to be facing X. When the shooter yells “SHOT”, step and turn from facing X right to the pipe. The step will be a simple pivot.

While he is stepping, the shooter releases a shot. The point is to make the foot movement instinctual. Keep the shots light at first while your son figures out his foot positioning and sealing the side of the pipe with his body.