Lacrosse goalie mental training is something overlooked by a lot of goalies, coaches, and parents. Everyone gets so wrapped up in three point vs. five point stances, handling one vs. one situations, and running the ball up the field that they miss this area.
The truth is that there is more to becoming a great goalie than mastering the six feet between the pipes.
Under the surface, there is an entire world of amazing possibility. It is the realm of the goalie’s mindset.
If you can harness the power of the force of the goalie’s mindset, you can tap into some serious power.
Lacrosse goalie mental training isn’t something that is reserved for just the pros or D1 goalies. It is accessible and lax goalies of all ages can benefit from focusing on this area of their game.
And who better to help us navigate the waters of the force but Master Yoda.
Who knew that the master Jedi was a lax coach on the side! I guess he had plenty of time chilling on waiting for Luke to show up.
Here are Yoda’s top tips for mastering the force of a goalie’s mindset. Listen up, dude has game!
Clear Your Mind of Questions, You Must
A clear mind is a goalie’s best friend. Coming into a game, you don’t want to be over hyped or mentally absent. They’re both extremes. You want to be right in the middle.
A clear mind for a lacrosse goalie is a mind that is prepared for the work ahead.
You’re always going to have things in life that pop up and distract you. You’re going to be in a great mood one day and a sour mood the next day. There are tons of external forces that can impact your thoughts and feeling.
Don’t get overwhelmed when you can’t control those inputs. No one can.
What you can control is your response to those inputs.
To enter a game with a clear mind, you should start in practice.
At the beginning of each practice. Take a few minutes and just be quiet. Focus on your breathing. Allow the breaths to come in and out. In and out. Take deep breaths, breathing from your diaphragm.
Do this for 5-10 minutes. As thoughts come up, just recognize them and let them pass. Don’t try to block them.
The key is to allow your mind to rest. Not thinking about anything in particular.
Practicing this exercise alone is a win. After a few days, you’ll feel the impact.
Master Yoda recognized the power of calming the mind. It is key to master the essential goalie mindset!
Anger, Fear, Aggression, the Dark Side Are They
Playing goalie is an emotional position. There really isn’t any way around it.
One of my old teammates said it best: “Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the fly.”
It is finding balance in your emotions that can sometimes make the difference between a windshield day and a fly day.
Fear, anger, and aggression are all powerful emotions. They can be powerful motivators, but if you’re not careful, they can destroy your performance.
There are a lot of goalies that try to use these emotions to drive their game. When they do that, you’re heading down a dark path.
Each of these emotions put the goalie’s focus on an exterior focus. It takes their mind off their job: saving the shot.
When they get angry at the other team, their coach, their defense, they’re more likely to overthink the situation. They’re going to mess up their approach to the ball, communication with the defense, and their ability to see the offensive formations.
Instead a goalies should reject these emotions. When you feel them coming up, you need to talk back.
Yeah, literally talk to yourself.
Hey, you’re a goalie. People already think you’re weird. May as well embrace it!
Talking back it yourself is called positive self talk. It is powerful!
Instead of embracing dark emotions, stay in the light. Tell yourself that you feel great. Tell yourself you love being in the game. Tell yourself you love the smell of the grass and there is no other place in the world you’d rather be.
Lacrosse goalie mental training is all about embracing the positive and bringing yourself back to that place over and over again.
The Fear of Loss is the Path to the Dark Side
No one wants to loose. That is a given.
But what do you do when it feels like you are losing?
This is a dangerous place for a lacrosse goalie.
For a lacrosse goalie, mental toughness means recognizing when you’re feeling down and addressing those feelings as soon as possible.
The thoughts that we allow into our head actually impact the way we feel and the way we perform.
If you dwell on the fear of losing a game or you beat yourself up over a shot that you should have saved, you’re actually telling you’re body that you’re losing.
This makes the next series that much harder for you to perform at your best.
You already have enough stacked against you as a goalie. You don’t need to pile on anymore!
To avoid this place, lax goalies should practice a short memory.
When something bad happens, take a minute to review it.
For that goal that just went in, is there anything that you should have done differently?
What was it?
Now move on.
You’ve processed the lesson. You’ve visualized how you’ll handle it next time. Now it is time to get ready for that next shot.
It is important for a goalie to keep moving onto the next play. Don’t get bogged down in the past. Keep moving forward!
The Most Serious Mind
This is some serious Jedi level stuff we’re talking about on this post. If you’re still here reading it, good for you!
It is clear that you want to get better.
The next step in the process for you is to start trying things out.
Make the time while at practice to take care of your lacrosse goalie mental training.
For some goalies, it will need to be before or after practice because things are so structured you don’t have any time. For others, you’ll have plenty of time to practice while the coach is working with the other positions.
It doesn’t matter when you practice, they key is just keep trying.
Make the commitment to take your mental training seriously.
In practice, after a goal goes in, instead of smashing your stick against the pipe, just take a deep breath and walk it off. Think about what you’d do differently next time. Then move on!
Keep following this process and you’ll see results. You can’t miss!
The Boy Has No Patience
Things don’t change overnight. It takes patience and practice to find your groove.
You didn’t learn to throw with a goalie stick in just a few practices, did you?
How long did it take you to get good at off-side bounce shots? I’ll bet you could still use some work on those.
Don’t get overwhelmed. The key isn’t it get someplace. It is to practice the process.
Take a few minutes before practice to calm your mind.
Before you start your warm up shots, take a few moments to visualize how you’re going to move into the ball with each shot.
When a shot goes in during drills, take the time to address what you did wrong and what you’d do differently next time.
Those three simple steps repeated over and over and over again will change your goalie game.
Before you know it, you’ll be a Jedi master between the pipes!
May the force be with you!
If you’re looking for the next step in your lacrosse goalie mental training process, then you should check out this eBook on pre-game visualizations. It will give you some step-by-step guide to help you get up and running.
A special thanks to Wan Little on YouTube for the great collection of Yoda quotes!