Finding Your Athletic Stance

Athletic stance is a term used in every sport and it is the basis for movement.  Whether you play tennis, hockey, basketball, baseball or lacrosse your athletic stance is extremely important.

Your athletic stance needs to have the following qualities:

    • It needs to feel comfortable. It may take some time for your athletic stance to feel comfortable but ultimately it should be extremely comfortable for you.
    • Your weight should be on the balls of your feet towards your big toe.
    • The knees are bent and inside the feet in order to apply pressure at the correct angle through your feet and into the ground.
    • The ankles should be flexed into the ground so that there is no loss of pressure.  You want your ankles to be a strong link.
    • The shoulders are over the knees and the knees are bent and are over the toes.
    • Your hands are out in front of you ready and prepared.  
    • Your chest and eyes are up.
    • You are ready to move in any direction.

From this basic stance we will create the foundation of a great goalie.  If this stance feels uncomfortable right now it is probably due to a lack of flexibility and a lack of strength.  In time you will get stronger and you will be able to assume this position easily.  Stick with it and before you know it you’ll be moving in the cage like an all star.

Why You Need An Athletic Stance?

Your athletic stance is your base.  It’s the beginning of all of your moves.  It is unique to you, within reason.  

When I’m coaching an athlete who is 5’6” the athletic stance looks different than if I’m coaching someone who is 6’3”.  Same thing for women versus men.  

The bottom line is that the stance is the foundation for all of your moves.  For all of your saves.  Without it you have no base.

Why Trying To Copy Someone Else’s Stance Is Not Good For You

Just as I mentioned above.  Your stance is unique to you and is based on your strengths and weaknesses.  It’s also based on how you’re built.  If you have long legs, or short legs.  A long torso, or a short one.  

Many young goalies see a college goalie who they love and try to copy their stance.  Unless they have the same build this is ridiculous.  The stance used by that college goalie is based on years of ball-stopping and (hopefully) good coaching.  It is also based on their strengths and weaknesses and not yours.   So be careful when you try to adapt someone else’s stance as your own.

Does Your Stance Change?

Yes.  Your stance will change over time.  

There are a few things that will change your stance.  Namely:

    • Your strength.  As you get stronger you will be able to hold different postures.
    • Your height and weight.   As you get older your limb length will change thus affecting your stance.
    • Your skill level.  As you get better you will find out what works best for you.
    • Your positioning in the cage.  There are certain times when standing in your basic stance is not efficient.  This most likely happens when you are standing up against the post on shots that are closer to goal-line extended.

All in all a solid basic stance will last you your whole career.  It shouldn’t change drastically unless you are doing something wrong.  With good coaching you will find a great basic stance and that should stay with you for a long, long time.

How To Adapt Your Athletic Stance To Your Goalie Stick.

Now here’s the easy part where people get confused.  Get in your athletic stance with your hands out in front of you.  

Now, rotate your top hand up and your bottom hand down to a comfortable position.  THAT is the position your stick should be in, with some minor adjustments.

Those adjustments are:

      • Your top hand should be at least shoulder high and far enough away from your head so that the head of your stick covers the space over your shoulder and to the side of your head.
      • Your bottom hand should be in front of you your torso.  Not out too much to the side. (Although I would argue that the next generation of lacrosse goalies will start to use their bottom hand like a hockey goalie uses there blocker on shots they can’t get their top hand to)
      • Your hands should be roughly the same distance apart as your waist is wide.

These are all the adjustments you need.  Anything else is over thinking the whole thing.

Should My Stick Be Straight Up And Down?  Or More Sideways?

No matter where you put your stick it is always the furthest point away from a shot somewhere else?

Let me say this again…Because we play in a goal that is six feet by six feet it allows for balls to be shot all the way around us.  So if I put my stick straight up and down and high in the cage that may be great if a shot comes to the top of the cage.  But if a ball goes low between my legs I need to move my stick a long way down to stop it.  So whether my stick is straight up and down or perpendicular to the ground it is really irrelevant.

There are two things to consider that override where you choose to put your stick.  They are:

    • The head of the stick must not be covering any part of the body. (i.e. Your head or shoulders.)
    • The position of your stick must not put it higher than the top of the cage.
    • The position of your stick must not restrict your ability to move to the ball.

If you keep these three things in mind you should have no problem.  

Conclusion

Your stance and your stick position are unique to you.  There are some standards and rules of thumb but for the most part your stance will be unique to your body-type as well as your strengths and weaknesses physically.  Your stance may change over time as your ability improves and you get stronger as you grow.  Once you stop growing the biggest thing that will affect your position is your strength and flexibility.

Adopting a college goalies stance just because you like the look of it is foolish.  It may work for you but the odds are that it won’t work for you now.  Again, stick to the standards and you’ll create a solid base stance that will stay with you for a long time.

Finding your stance is easy but it’s important that you return to that stance all the time.  

Take Aways:

    • Your athletic stance is your base. It is what all other movement in the cage comes from.
    • Your athletic stance is unique to you.
    • Proper stick position comes from your athletic stance first.  Not the other way around.
    • Your athletic stance will change as you grow and get stronger and more flexible.

Would love your comments below this post.  And when you’re ready, why not join Lacrosse Goalie University?

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