A strong lacrosse goalie stance means you’re ready for anything. It is the foundation upon which all the other elements of the position rest. There are five distinct advantages of developing a strong stance in the cage.
Clearly Communicate with the Defense
On the field, the goalie is the quarterback. It is your job to notice and call out all the formations and movements of the offense. But what happens if you’re not in a position to read the offense?
By staying in your stance, you make sure that you’re square to the ball at all time. This means that you can quickly scan 90 degrees to each side of the ball and read the offense. You can use your periphery vision to scan for any threats that may be cutting from the wing.
Being out of position by just a few inches can mean you don’t spot a threat until it is too late to react.
As a defense here is the chain of events:
- Goalie notices the threat.
- Goalie calls out the threat to the defense.
- Defense locates the threat.
- Defense responds to the threat.
This sequence of four chained events takes time to play out. Even if it is just a few seconds, this is still more than enough time for an outside feeder to place a pass into the stick of an arching shooter in the heart of the defense.
Being in your stance can be the difference between noticing the shooter too late or giving your defense the time they need to read and react to the situation.
Move Fast Inside the Cage
As a goalie, fast feet are important. I remember between 7th and 8th grade I moved into the cage. I changed positions because I was too slow to be a midfielder. I didn’t realize at the time just how important it would be for a goalie to be fast in the cage.
Speed is important, but it isn’t the only ingredient to brewing up a great goalie. There is a difference between moving fast and moving efficiently. A great goalie moves with precision between the pipes.
They’re able to navigate the space between the iron without the need to think about it. This skill allows a goalie to be able to respond to a cross crease feed quickly, while still being in a position to save the shot when they arrive.
Here is the chain of events a goalie must follow if a passer makes a feed from a goalies side-left to side-right:
- Be able to move across the center of the goal
- Locate the player with the ball
- Find the ball in relation to the shooter
- Align themselves center in the goal to the ball
- Be ready to move forward into the ball should the shooter decide to make a shot.
This all needs to happen in a matter of mere moments, not even seconds.
To pull this off, a goalie needs a standardized and repeatable collection of steps that govern their position in the goal. Mastering these steps and positions is the only thing that will put the goalie in the position to make the save.
Stopping Shots Before They’re Taken
This one doesn’t show up on the stat card, but it is a great skill to hone. A goalie who has perfected their stance will see less shots in a game than a goalie who doesn’t display a strong stance. Why you ask?
The answer is simple. When you’re in a proper goalie stance, you take up more space. When you take up more space, there is less net for the shooter to see. The less net a shooter can see, the less likely they are to take a shot.
By always being centered to the shooter inside the cage, you can reduce the number of shots that even get taken. This is a massive win for your defense and your team. Maintaining a centered to the ball position and proper body positioning is key to reducing the number of shots a shooter can take at the goal.
Move Toward the Ball When Shots Are Taken
Stepping to the ball is a non-negotiable part of the position. Lacrosse goalie is part art, part science. The science part are the components that you’re cannot ignore. Stepping to the ball and maintaining a solid stance are two components like that and they build on each other.
When a shot is taken, stepping toward that shot reduces the angle of the shot. This places you in a better position to make the save. You’re centered to the shot, you have your stick centered to ball, this is followed by your body behind the stick as a fall back incase you miss it with your stick.
These are basic fundamentals that you should be practicing every day.
You can only step properly toward the ball when you start in your stance. If you’re off center to the ball, if you’re flat footed, or if your arms are down, you’re not going to be able to step into the shot with proper form.
Coming from a proper stance, you’re maximizing the elements that you can control and increasing your chances of making the save.
Be Ready for Anything
If anything is predictable about being a lacrosse goalie, it is that nothing is predictable. Every game is going to throw situations at you that you’ve never seem before. While you can’t prepare for every situation, you can make sure that you’re in the right position to react.
Week after week you practice to improve your muscle memory. This is the part of your body that just reactions without conscious thought to a situation. When you’re in a game-situation, you may not have time to think. In those situations, you need to be prepared to take action.
A goalie who is comfortable in their stance and always in their stance when the ball is on their end of the field is ready to act in this situation. You’re ready to move quickly, have a clear eye on the action, and ready to react to those unknown situations and chance the course of the game.
These are five reasons why you should make your stance a priority. It is a core and fundamental part of your game. Honing this foundational piece will put you on the fast-tract to mastering the more nuanced components of the game. But you can’t get there without first mastering your solid stance!
In our next post, we’re going to walk you thought a point-by-point breakdown of how you can build your strong stance. Stay tuned for that post!