Coach Jonathan Edwards uses his latest podcast as an opportunity to explain to why using tennis balls in practice is a great idea for the whole team. Lacrosse goalies can regain lost confidence and avoid needless injuries, while attackmen can work on staying sensitive to the ball. Coach Edwards gives tips on how to implement tennis balls in practice and bring your team’s performance to the next level.
0:13 – Using tennis balls in practice can help lacrosse goalies increase confidence and focus on the ball.
0:34 – A Maryland Division 1 goalie in the ’90s lost his confidence during playoffs. Coaches were smart and helped him recover it using tennis balls.
1:12 – Coach Edwards explains how tennis balls are great for the whole team and how to incorporate them.
2:00 – Teams should be trying to preserve their goalies’ pain threshold and avoid painful shots that ruin confidence.
2:55 – Tennis balls aren’t perfect for every shot. They are lightweight and affected more by the air.
4:48 – All ages of goalies can benefit from using tennis balls, and coaches will love the results.
Coach Edwards here with LacrosseGoalieTips.com and LacrosseGoalieUniversity.com, and today we’re going to talk about using tennis balls in practice.
Using Tennis Balls
Using tennis balls in practice is a really good tip, if I do say so myself. This is not new. This is something that goes back generations. It’s a way to help goalies increase their confidence and be able to focus on the ball and not getting hurt.
Getting Your Confidence Back
Back in the ’90s there was a goalie from Maryland, Division 1 school, and he developed a fear of the ball going into the playoffs. The smart coaches didn’t man up and say, “Oh, we’re just going to use lacrosse balls.” They broke out the tennis balls so this goalie could get his confidence back. It’s amazing. You can lose your confidence at any level of the game. You can lose it from peewee all the way to major league lacrosse, so using tennis balls is a really cool tactic. It’s something that I use pretty much all the time.
How to Incorporate Tennis Balls in Practice
The place to use them is in 1-on-1 drills or 1-on-0 drills. Like when you’re dodging from behind with your team, if you’re an athlete looking at this or reading this, you might want to pass this on to your coach, or if you’re a coach listening to this, do this. We want our attackmen to have soft hands and we want them to have really sensitive hands so they can feel the ball. The best way to do that is to put a tennis ball in their hand. What that does then is it gets them to focus on that lightness of the ball in their stick. How many times have you seen your attackman drive to the cage, lose the ball, and not know that they lost the ball? It’s like, really?
Preserving the Goalie
From a goalie’s perspective though, we want to basically preserve our goalies. We want to preserve our pain threshold. It’s one thing to take a shot in a game when the adrenaline is flowing and that pain has a purpose. In practice though, when you get hit with the ball and it’s really not worth it right? And all it does is ruin your confidence a little bit.
Tennis Balls are Great for the Whole Team
By putting a tennis ball in the hands of the attackman, then they can work on their dodging and you can focus on proper positioning and moving to the ball correctly and getting your hands on the ball without worrying about getting hurt. You can have guys or girls shoot on you from far out with a tennis ball. It works better with women than with men because of the lip in the stick.
The Cons of Using Tennis Balls
But getting shot on with time and room shots, shots outside, it doesn’t always work that well. I find that coaches are able to pull of shots with tennis balls better than young kids can. If you’re listening to this and you’re in a college level program, then you might be one of the guys who can shoot outside with tennis balls. What happens sometimes with distance is the ball tends to curve or float or just do weird stuff. You can do that too.
Use Tennis Balls in Your Warm Up
The bottom line is just incorporate tennis balls into your warm up, into the drills that you can, and that way you can focus on stopping the ball and not worrying about any sort of fear of the ball. Incorporating tennis balls in practice is a really good drill and it can be done all the time. In the sport of soccer, soccer goalies will wear padded shorts and padded shirts in practice while they do their diving drills. They will do that to basically preserve their skin and elbows and to avoid having bruises that they don’t necessarily need to have.
If You Don’t Have to Get Hurt, Don’t
Some goalies will just get to a level and they’re comfortable practicing in short sleeve t-shirts and things like that, but for the most part, the idea is to preserve the goalie. We don’t want to have anything unnecessary that we have to deal with that doesn’t happen in the game, so why bother? If you can keep yourself from getting banged up and busted up because of practice then do it and really preserve yourself. You can incorporate tennis balls from junior high school, high school, college, it doesn’t matter. Practice situations. It’s awesome.
Coaches Will Love the Results
So incorporate tennis balls into your practice and just see how good you feel. And coaches, you’ll really notice that your goalies can feel safe and they can work on things and not worry about it. Because we’re just trying to wire the goalie to move correctly to the ball and it’s amazing what can happen when they’ve got good confidence and they feel good. That learning curve just accelerates. It starts to just creep up and up and up. So let me know what you’ve done to incorporate tennis balls into your practice or if you’ve done anything like it similar. I’d love to hear it.
You can e-mail me at CoachEdwards@LacrosseGoalieTips.com but even better, leave a comment below this on the blog and I’ll get back to you because it sends an email to me. When you leave a comment I get an email and I can send you a comment right back. Thanks for listening, appreciate it as always. I’m Coach Edwards at LacrosseGoalieTips.com and LacrosseGoalieUniversity.com. Talk to you soon.