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.
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!