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.

Lacrosse Goalie Drills for Faster Feet

As a lacrosse goalie, there are only a few rules that apply across the board. Stepping to the ball is one of those rules. No matter how fast the shot, where is is coming from, or where it is going, you always, always, always step to the ball. Foot speed is a critical aspect of being able to step to the ball in time and bring your trail foot up the the right position. These drills will help you in season and in the off season to develop quick feet and make more saves.

Jump rope

Every goalie needs to own a jump rope. If you don’t, buy one now. It will become your best friend and one of the greatest investments you will ever make. Mix jumping rope into your workouts, warm ups, cool downs, and during commercial breaks while you’re watching ESPN. Take it with you in the car, on vacation, and to the grandmas house.

Try to see how many you can do in a row. Try for 200. Then take a quick break and do it again. This is the fastest way to quick feet that I know of and it really worked for me. I’m a tall guy, 6’3″ and it takes a lot to get me moving. This helped.

Magic square

This is a drill that every goalie should use a few times a week during the season. Find any straight line on the field and lay your stick perpendicular to the line. This will create four quadrants. We will call the upper left side 1, upper right side 2, lower left side 3, and lower right side 4. In doing these drills, you want to be facing the same direction and allowing your feet to just move around beneath you.

Start in quadrant 1 and with your feet together, jump to 2,4,3 and back into 1. Upon returning to one, reverse the order and repeat. This is just jumping in each quadrant.

After doing this for 10 reps, start in quadrant 1 and with both feet still together, jump to 2, diagonally to 3, over to 4, and diagonally to 1. Do this for 5 reps and reverse the circuit.

Agility Ladder Drills

Everyone’s favoriate piece of fitness equipment is the agility ladder. There are a ton of variations that can be used on a ladder to improve your foot speed. Start with your foot in each square and go through the ladder as fast as you can. Then transition to touching both feet inside each square. To get fancy, touch your right toe to the left side of the ladder, just outside rope, the tap both feet inside, and then touch your right foot to the right side of the ladder square just outside the square. Proceed to the middle of the next square by tapping with each foot and then touching the outside left of the ladder. Repeat.

Stretch a Lot

Staying loose and limber is pretty important for a goalie. After all, you have to be ready to spring and save a shot in .19 seconds. A good way to increase flexibility and in turn foot speed is to take the appropriate amount of time at the beginning and end of practice to stretch out.

I recommend a warm-up lap and dynamic stretch to start. Consider including high knees, butt kickers, straight leg kicks, hip rotators to the inside and outside, and calfs. Then after practice, take time to cool down with a static stretch.

Hot Feet

This drill is similar to high knees dynamic stretching, but with the floor on fire. The idea is to minimize the amount of time that your foot and the ground are in contact. Bring you feet up and down as quickly as possible. Bring your feet high enough off the ground to reach the high knee position. Ten repetitions makes a set.

Lacrosse Goalie Practice Plan

A practice plan for a lacrosse goalie will change throughout a season, but for the most part should remain the same. A sound lacrosse goalie practice plan is built on principles that rise above the current state of the team or performance of the goalie.

Time is important for a goalie. Not just time with the team, but time alone or working one-on-one with a coach. It is a very mentally intensive position and it takes time to find the right zone. That is the goal of a lax goalie practice plan. It is consistant and simple. A place where coach and goalie meet for a time of repetitive and fundamental work.

Building muscle memory is the key, not save percentage or speed of the shot. It will take thousands upon thousands of shots for the necessary movements and responses to become reactionary for a goalie.

Pre-Practice or Pre-Game Routine

The before practice and before a game routine should look very similar. The old saying goes that we play the way we practice.  Before a lax goalie warm up starts, dynamic stretching should take place. This includes jogging, high stepping, hip stretches, lunges, and others. The goal is to get the blood flowing and loosen up the major joints.

Just before jumping into the net should be longer passes with a teammate or coach. This is to warm up the stick, throwing arm, and eyes. Practice rolling out to the left and the right as if you were rolling out from behind the net on a clear. This will warm up the feet, eyes, and shoulders.

Warm-Up in the Net

Predictable repetition should be the mindset at the beginning of a lacrosse goalie warmup session. The point is never to shoot as hard as possible. They can begin as just faster than passes and pick up the speed as the time goes on, but at the beginning the focus is to drill the movements.

Start with high shots to the top-right, top-center, and top-left. The goalie should be stepping toward every shot with their body and following up with the trail foot. When a save is made, the stick should always be square to the body so if the shot should happen to miss the stick, it would be saved by the body.

After 20-25 shots to the upper range, move to hip-right and hip-left shots. Focus on off-hip shots, keeping arms out and away from the body as they bring the stick across and meet the shot. When an off-hip save is made, the stick should be perpendicular to the ground, out and away from the body.

After 20-25 hip area shots, move to saving low shots. Goalies tend to stoop for these shots. Coach to bend at the knees so as to meet the ball square. Next come bounce shots. It is important for lax goalies to always step out and meet the shot at the point of impact with the ground. The head of the stick should be clamped firmly to the turf. Once the ball has been stopped, they are to clamp the ball and pass back to coach.

When the ball is loose on the crease area, treat it like a game time situation. Pretend that there is a group of attackmen there trying to scoop it up and score a garbage goal. Clamp the ball, box out with your body, and drag the ball to a safe place inside the crease. Get the ball up and start looking down field for the outlet pass.

After each area has been warmed up, it is time to pick up the pase of the shots. Shots should be taken from all areas of the arc, not just squared up shots from the center of the cage. Work the angles and pipes so goalies are used to facing shots and positioning their body to cover up the maximum amount of net.

Drills

After the general warm up, it is a good time to move into some shooter-goalie drills. The first is called “Shot-Turn”. This is a simple drill that should be practiced everyday. It starts with the goalie is the goal, standing ready in their stance, looking through the back of the net with their back facing the shooter. Right before the shooter releases their shot they shout “SHOT!” At this sound, the goalie turn round and saves the shot.

The next drill requires two shooters. It is a good way to put lame or sick players to work. The focus is to get the goalie moving from pipe-to-pipe in the goal. The two shooters stand at about 10:00 and 2:00 and pass the ball back and forth. As they pass, the goalie must move through their arc and center themselves to the ball’s new position. Random shots are taken to make sure that the goalie is remaining honest. Shooters should move around, allowing the goalie to adjust to shots from a variety of places and angles.

Mixed with the Team

Bringing a goalie into team shooting drills is a dangerous thing. Luckily  most lacrosse coaches have noticed the negative effects this can have on a goalies mindset, health, and confidence. It is important to include a goalie in team shooting drills, it just must be done is a smart way.

Structured shooting drills that incorporate members of the offense and defense are a really good thing for a goalie. It gives them the opportunity to face shots and command a defensive player on their positioning.

1v1, 2v2, 3v2, 3v3 are all great shooting drills to work in goalies. Encourage the offense to move the ball quickly and the defense to respond in kind.

What if I don’t have a goalie coach?

Lacrosse is the fastest growing game in the USA and is swiftly growing across the globe, yet still there is a shortage of lacrosse goalie coaches. If there isn’t a goalie coach on your team, that isn’t an excuse. You just need to take ownership of your position and your own training. Make sure that you communicate with the head coach what you need to succeed  Most field players have NO IDEA how to train a goalie.  They do however know how important a strong goalie can be for a team. Share this article with them or others from MTC. Commit to coaching yourself and keep pushing yourself to become better.

Getting better can start right now. Sign up for our 7-part free goalie stance course to get started! Seriously. Do it!