In the last post we talked about why a lax goalie stance is so important. If you haven’t read that yet, do it now.
The benefits are wide reaching and they touch many parts of your game as a lax goalie.
But building a strong stance isn’t easy. It needs to be approached from three different areas:
- Understand the fundamentals
- Practice the position and primary movements
- Strengthen your mind and body to perform in the stance
In this post we’re going to dig into each of these three areas. We’re going to flesh out what you can start doing today to strengthen your stance. If you have questions as we’re going, be sure to drop them in the comments area at the bottom of the post.
Understand the Fundamentals
A lax goalie stance starts at the ground. The way the feet are positioned is going to dictate how the rest of the body is positioned. They should be shoulder-width apart, with the toes pointed slightly outward.
The goalie should be on the balls of their feet, just enough to allow light to shine under their heels. Checkout the image above and see how Chris is positioned in goal.
With feet in this position, you’re ready to pounce. Quick movement is key.
The stance should position us to be ready to strike with no wasted time preparing to strike. We want to get as close to the strike point as possible.
Next we move to the knees.
The knees should be bent and ready for action. You should be comfortable, so not too low in a squat. The pressure should be on your legs and butt.
This athletic position allows you to strike and move toward the ball when it comes at you. We’re now prepared for forward movement with both our feet and our knees.
Your lower back should be in the same position as if you were squatting weights.
You want your chest and head to stay square to the ball. You want your butt to go back and your center of mass to go down.
There is no need to go as low as these examples. I share these to show you the similarities in the motion.
Look at the women holding the kettle bell. See how her eyes are always looking forward. Her chest and shoulders stay square. That is what you want in your stance.
Your hands should be out and away from your body. Leave at least 8-10 inches between your chest and your stick. You also want at least 10 inches between your hands. If your hands get too close together, you can loose control of the stick from a fast shot.
You want the stick out, away from your body so you’re in a position to move toward the ball while moving your stick to save the ball. If you allow the stick too close to your body, you’ll find it hard to get across your body for off-side saves.
Staying in this position is going to take endurance. That is why it is important to practice and stay in good shape. When you’re in your stance, you’re ready to strike. You need to endurance to stay in that stance for as long as the offense has the ball in your zone.
Practice the Position and Primary Movements
A strong lacrosse goalie stance isn’t something that is going to happen overnight. It is a core function of the position that should be honed over time. It is important to pay attention to the stance both during the season and in the off season.
A part of each lacrosse goalie warm-up in practice should include practicing the stance.
This starts with a proper warm-up and stretching. Preparing the body to move is important to keep everything flowing smoothly.
Once you’ve warmed up your body, you want to assume the position in the goal.
Start with your stance. Spend time thinking about each area, starting with you feet. Feel the ground and center yourself with it. Bend at the knees and find that comfortable and engaged position where you’re ready to strike. Bring this up to your hips, chest, shoulders, and head. Focus on centering everything to the imaginary shooter.
Move to the Arms
Introduce the arms and your stick. Be mindful of your grip on the stick. You don’t want to grip the stick too tight. You need to let the shaft breath.
Find a loose, but controlled grip of the stick. Find the comfortable distance between your stick and your chest.
Keep this distance 8-12 inches to allow you to move across your body to make a save. Keep the stick on the same plane as your body. Beware of a lower hand that extends too far up into the air. You want the goal, your body, and the head of your stick to all be perpendicular to the ground.
Once you’ve mindfully worked through each of these areas, find a place of calm. Stay loose and ready to strike. Focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths in and out. You want to control your breath.
Follow the Invisible Shooter
After you’ve practiced your controlled breathing, begin to practice your movements within the goal.
Start on the right pipe. Visualize a shooter about 12 yards down goal line extended. They’re running the arch from the goalie’s right to the top right, then they come to center, then to top left, then down to side left, and wrapping up at left goal line extended.
As this imaginary shooter runs the arc 12 yards out from the cage, practice your stance.
Make each step in your 5-point arc as they move. Remember the angles that are in play. Don’t step too early, doing so will leave net over exposed.
As you step into a new position, run through the Lacrosse Goalie Mental Stance Checklist. Check in with each position of your body. When you’re ready, take the next step and repeat the process.
When you have completed one arc, change directions and follow the invisible shooter again.
Time is your friend in this exercise. You do not want to rush your visualization and movements. You’re training your body and mind how to think and react. You won’t have this time in a game. Don’t rush it.
Strengthen Your Mind and Body to Perform in the Lax Goalie Stance
Staying in your stance increases your chances of making a save. This is true every time. If you’re out of your stance, you need to move into your stance before you will move toward the ball.
You need to stay in your stance the entire time the offense has the ball on your end of the field.
But this is hard…
Staying in your stance takes work and conditioning. If you’re going to last the whole game, you need to be in shape. That means training your body for endurance, strength, and speed. Both for your body and mind…
Staying in your stance requires endurance. A great way to build endurance is squats and burpies. Here are a few videos that do a good job of breaking down the fundamentals for each movement.
These workouts will help you build strength and endurance in your legs and core. They’ll also help you over time to improve your breathing and concentration.
But how do you make your feet faster? This guy has the secret…
Boxers have been skipping rope for years to keep their feet fast. Follow the Italian Stallion’s lead and grab a rope!
Ok, so how do you make it happen for you? Grab a rope and start jumping.
You’re not going to be very good at first, but keep at it. Over time you’ll find your rhythm. Push through your frustrations knowing that you’re improving your body.
Here is a video that can help you out if you’re a beginner and not sure how to get started.
These drills and workouts are things you can do off the field to strengthen your mind and body for your stance.
Spend time investing in your stance. This isn’t something that you can binge today and be great tomorrow.
It is going to take time to build muscle memory and strength. Start today by just adding these workouts and drills into your routine. The cumulative impact will be game changing for you!
A great way to track your progress is to record yourself in your stance.
For just $36.42 and a smart phone, you can start filming yourself in the goal. You need two pieces of equipment:
1. Simple Tripod from Amazon
2. Smart Phone Mount from Amazon
Take the tripod and attach the mount to the top. Place your smart phone in the mount and start recording a video of the cage.
Start with your stance at center in the cage. Then, work your 5-point arc. Start at the left and work right. Then back from right to left. Do this several times so you can see how you’re stepping and positioning within the cage.
Next, get a shooter to start taking some mid-speed shots on you. They’re not shooting to score, just to allow you to see how you move from your stance into the ball.
After you have about 5 minutes of footage, stop. When you get home, review the footage. Take notes on what you need to improve.
Keep following this exercise every few weeks. This will help you track your progress within your stance.
Summary and Next Steps
There are a lot of really good reasons to pay attention to your stance as a lacrosse goalie. It is the foundation for all that you do in the net.
You’re only going to get better if you take action.
Start by downloading your copy of the Lacrosse Goalie Mental Stance Checklist. Print this off and take it with you to the field. Follow these steps to help train your mind and body to perform within your stance.
Go get um!