Coach Edwards provides lacrosse goalies with advice on how to improve their clearing and rebounds. He emphasizes the importance of a soft grip and provides examples of how tight grip can affect saves. He gives pro tips on holding the stick and how to tame mesh and invert it to make easier saves.
0:34 – Even if you make a lot of saves, if you can’t clear your team will suffer.
1:56 – Clearing is made a lot more complicated than it has to be.
2:37 – New sticks can distract goalies from the problems they should be working on.
3:23 – Why it’s important for goalies to have soft hands.
5:00 – The roles the top and bottom hands play in controlling the lacrosse stick.
6:21 – Example of how tight grip versus loose affects saves.
8:05 – Taming hard mesh and making it pliable.
9:00 – Tips on inverting mesh to make easier saves.
Hey guys. Coach Edwards here with LacrosseGoalieTips.com and LacrosseGoalieUniversity.com, and I want to dovetail off of last week’s email from Lauren about her stick. This week I want to just talk about, again, I want to stay on the stick topic because this is the time of year when goalies, we’re focusing so much on stopping the ball that we forget probably one of the most critical aspects of our game, which is clearing the ball.
A Diamond Member’s Issue With Clearing
A couple of years ago I worked with a goalie in California, and he was a diamond member of Lacrosse Goalie University, and we were doing a goalie critique pretty frequently. What I found was this goalie who was getting really frustrated. His dad was getting really frustrated too because he was making a lot of saves every game and his save numbers, I can’t remember what they were right now, but basically the number of saves he had to make was really high.
This kid came from a really good school in California. They played in a pretty tough league. They were, by no means, a great team but he was a pretty solid goalie. When I got a good set of footage from him, the first week I got a goalie critique and the footage was just him in warmup. It was basically the camera on him in warmup, and then every save he made so I could only see him.
I asked his dad when he took the video to basically pan out so that after he made a save I could see where the passes were going because then I got a pretty good picture. The team had a really bad clear. The defense weren’t in the proper positions, so this goalie was having to make passes that were really not necessary in a lot of ways.
Clearing Doesn’t Have To Be So Complicated
Clearing to me is a very simple process and a lot of teams make this really complicated. A lot of coaches have no clue how to make it easy for the team they have. They just think “Oh, my team, they have bad sticks, let’s get to the middies.” When a goalie makes a save, they need to make a good outlet pass, and that just doesn’t mean that I pass to you. It means I pass to you when you are open. I don’t pass to you when you are covered. But what I see a lot of goalies have trouble with is that there’s this talk about, “I either have to have a deep pocket so I don’t have to give up on rebounds, or I have to have a shallow pocket so I can make a far pass.
With New Technology Comes Distractions From A Goalie’s Real Problems
I’d like to add another thing in this equation. In terms of rebounds, everybody tends to focus on the stick and the stringing and the pocket depth in terms of giving up rebounds. No one ever talks about having soft hands anymore. When I was coming up as a goalie, there wasn’t a lot of stick options like we have today.
Here now, with technology, we’ve got new sticks coming out every season. There’s some new crazy sidewall design to give you extra yardage on your pass, and extra mile per hour on your shot, whatever.
That is all just marketing hype, and what it does is it takes the focus off what really needs to happen, which is us physically and our hands.
The Importance of Having Soft Hands
Having soft hands is really what you want to focus on. For Lauren last week, with her photos that we looked at, she had a very shallow pocket so she could get far passes because she’s smaller and she’s not all that strong. I would actually recommend a lot of goalies use a stick like that in practice to focus on having soft hands.
How do you have soft hands? Here’s what you do. One of the challenges I see a lot of goalies have when they’re learning to play goal is that they have a really tough grip with their top hand. In my DVDs on how to coach young goalies, you’ll see our goalie when they first get their stick in their hands, they’ve got a very stiff grip. They’re basically choking that head of the stick.
How To Pick Up Your Stick To Keep Soft Hands
The first thing I recommend goalies do is put your stick on the ground flat, take your top hand, grab it off the ground without moving your hands around it. Your hand is going to look something like this.
This by itself is a little awkward, so all you do to modify it is you wrap your top fingers around and you put your thumb either up the plastic, or around the front loosely. My other two fingers are loose. We’ve got like a cup of tea. It’s tea time in England and we’ve got our pinky sticking out. We want to have that loose and soft.
Controlling The Stick With Your Top Hand
What happens now, when that ball hits the stick, the ball’s going to hit the stick and that top hand is going to be able to give a little bit and the ball is not going to fly out of here like it’s a tennis racket.
That’s not what we want. The challenge is when you have that soft hand, let’s say the ball hits the side, not the center of the pocket but either side, is that stick may rotate and the ball may still go in the net.
To counteract that, this is where the bottom hand comes into play.
The Bottom Hand’s Role On The Stick
The bottom hand is going to come around the shaft the same as the top hand. British cup of tea with the fingers, right? Keep it easy. But here I’m going to have a stronger grip, and this is where I’m usually have my tape. I usually have my tape so that that stick, I’ve got a grip and that stick isn’t going to spin because of my bottom hand grip, not my top hand grip. What happens is, when that ball comes at me, I’m going to have a nice, loose hand at the top.
What I like to do is think of the head of the stick as an extension of my hands. Not that I have a stick in my hands. It’s almost like an oversized baseball glove. I have this big stick in my hand, but it’s really just an extension of my hand. That usually really helps me when I’m making saves. It really enforces that soft hand.
Tight Grip Versus Loose In The Top Hand
Now what I do is, I’ve got my top hand here nice and loose, now when I come across my body, if I have a tight grip here and I’m making a save to my offstick high, if I come across my body like this, then that stick will actually be rotated slightly this way so that this is kind of trailing away, if you can see that. It’s almost like coming behind a little bit. That’s if I’ve got that tight choke grip.
When I loosen up my hand and use my bottom hand, and I rotate the stick across – so what I’m doing here is my top hand is coming over my bottom hand – the stick is basically rotating in my hand here, and that way, when it comes across my body, it is flush to the ball, it is perpendicular to the ball. If it catches the edge, it’s going to get corralled in the middle. Then if I catch it in the middle and it does rebound, it’s going to go up and in front of me, not to the side. And that all happens because I’ve got that loose top hand and I’m basically keeping my bottom hand tight and that’s where I’m getting the rotation of the head of my stick. That’s really important.
Breaking In Your Mesh
We can talk about sticks, we can talk about mesh. In terms of mesh, I want to show you one more thing. Hard mesh, great choice. Before you string up your stick, soak it and then let it dry and then pull the heck out of it. Stretch the heck out of it so that it deadens a little bit. The fibers break a little bit because what happens is hard mesh, when it breaks in, should be soft. You see this? This is nice and soft. Let me show you something else.
How To Tame Hard Mesh
Sometimes parents write me and they go, “My daughter’s stick is hard mesh, but it’s really hard.” Here’s a good example of that. This is a short stick I bought a number of years ago, and this is a Evo 4 with hard mesh, but the hard mesh is never really broken in. This is like a tennis racket. It’s quite firm, quite solid. Sometimes this can happen to hard mesh in goalie sticks.
When that happens, you just need to get another set of mesh in there, because you don’t want your goalie stick to be like a teaspoon holding an egg. That’s not the goal. You want that hard mesh to soften. We don’t use soft mesh because when soft mesh gets wet and then dries it’s like a tennis racket, we don’t want that at all. So we do want the hard mesh. And then from there we’ve got a pretty good setup. That stick is going to give a little bit.
Inverting The Mesh For An Easier Catch
Here’s one last trick for you. If you take the head of your stick and instead of punching out the pocketlike this when you’re in the cage and then getting into position, punch it out the other way. See this?
The mesh is actually inverted. It’s just one little thing that when the ball hits it that mesh is actually going to get hung up in the mesh, so more like a fishing net. So that’s a little pro tip for you. Give that a shot.
I hope that helps. Let’s focus on the hands. Don’t forget them. They’re a pretty important part of the project here. It’s not just our stick, it’s not just our mesh. Hands are pretty critical. I’m Coach Edwards at LacrosseGoalieTips.com and LacrosseGoalieUniversity.com. Do me a favor. Tweet it, pin it, share it, like it, plus it, find me on linkedin, and by all means, if you’ve got a question for me, it’s CoachEdwards@LacrosseGoalieTips.com and I will talk to you next week. Cheers.