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Coach Jonathan Edwards gives lacrosse goalies several tips on how to improve their clears. His latest video includes a comparison to NFL quarterbacks and several great ideas on how to perfect the special balance a goalie needs between their strength and their stick’s pocket. Coach Edwards describes the different types of throws a lacrosse goalie can utilize and how they can practice more efficiently.

Timestamps

0:49 – Lacrosse goalies with deep pockets tend to lose distance on clears.
1:35 – Different passes and how they can help a goalie.
2:16 – Learning to throw like an NFL quarterback.
3:07 – The issues a football player faced as a lacrosse goalie.
4:04 – The benefit of practicing with a shallower pocket.

Introduction

Coach Edwards here with LacrosseGoalieTips.com and LacrosseGoalieUniversity.com, and I got another great question this week. This is from Brian in Utah. Brian says,

Dear Coach Edwards,

Last year I could stop the ball pretty good…

Pretty well, Brian.

…but my clears were bad. I could see who I was supposed to pass to, but sometimes I couldn’t pass it far enough or the ball would go into the ground. What should I do to fix that so I’m better this year?

By the way, I really appreciate all the answers on your site, you really helped me a lot. Thanks.

Brian in Utah

Well, Brian in Utah, once we get that grammar fixed and you write “really well” as opposed to “really good,” but I digress.

Deep Pockets For Rebounds And How They Affect Clearing

This is a question I get fairly frequently. It usually comes down to two things. One, in order to pass the ball far, you need a certain level of strength. The tendency with young goalies is to focus on having a really deep pocket to stop rebounds. The tradeoff is usually distance in your clear.

If you’ve got this massive bag on your stick, a pocket that someone’s given you or you’ve worked on it and it’s just huge to help your rebounds, it’s going to keep you from passing the ball pretty far. You’ll want to tighten up that pocket a little bit and make it shallower so that you can get the type of throw out that you think you want to have happen.

A Good Throw To Have

Here’s the thing. People ask me, “What’s a good throw to have?” Well it depends. If you’re dealing with a kid who’s 10, getting the ball up the field past the restraining line, that’s a good little pass, right? But most goalies who have pretty good stick skills, they can throw further than that. But there are a couple different types of passes.

There’s one, if we are looking at the field (sorry, the field is tilted here) we want to make passes that are crisp, sharp passes to our teammates. We also want to make ones that are loopy. They go over the offensive players, the attackmen, the middys, to get it further out here.

What You Can Learn From An NFL Quarterback

I like watching the NFL a lot. You can learn a lot from a quarterback. There’s a science to quarterbacks. We haven’t really adopted that science for a lacrosse goalie, but we really should. Those quarterbacks have got great technique, great stance, their feet are set and firm, and they can make a really good pass.

They can make darts, that are like super crisp and short, and they can also make kind of mid-range passes that have just a little air under the ball, and then they can really air it out, almost like a Hail Mary pass. We want to be able to make those three passes too. That dart, that kind of frozen rope, and the one that has a little bit of air under it, and the one that has more air under it. If we’ve got a middy breaking on a clear, that middy can get way up here and that arc, that nice loopy pass, can make it out to our teammate.

A Football Player In A Similar Lacrosse Situation

But here’s the key. It’s a combination, as I mentioned, of pocket and strength. I did a goalie critique a little while ago from a goalie who is very strong. He’s a football player, had massive forearms, and you could see he could suck up every ball, which is great. No rebounds.

But when he went to pass the ball, he had to stop short with the stick because it was almost like he was shot putting the ball. The pocket was so deep that he could throw but he had to stop the stick so that the ball would come out instead of getting caught in the lip of the stick and going to the ground.

What I suspect is happening to you, either you have a shallow pocket and the shooting strings are too tight, so the ball gets stuck in the pocket, in the shooting strings and goes down, or you just have too big of a pocket and not enough strength to really get that ball moving in the pocket as you release it so that it goes up field.

Practicing With A Shallower Pocket

Here’s the thing that I wish every goalie would do more of. You should have a stick for practice that has a shallow pocket. The reason being is that you want to work on soft hands, not giving up rebounds, instead of relying on the pocket to catch everything. We’re not catching fish here right? We have to be able to do two things with the stick.

One, we have to catch the ball softly and we have to be able to coral the rebound, and second, we have to be able to make a nice pass up field. Hopefully you’ve got a stick for practice that’s shallower so you can get used to that shallower pocket so you don’t have to rely on such a deeper pocket to give up those rebounds.

The thing that will happen there by having that shallower pocket is you are naturally going to make longer passes because that ball is going to come out of the higher trajectory with less work. With a deeper pocket you have to get those hands way back to get that stick even moving. If you’re young and your strength isn’t there yet, that’s going to hurt you. It really affects female goalies as well. Girl goalies obviously have less strength than their male counterparts, usually age for age. So again, that deeper pocket hurts the clear. A shallower pocket can help get that ball further up the field with less effort.

Conclusion

Brian, this is a good question. Give that a shot. Mess around with your pocket, try a little bit and see what works for you, because there’s a balance. You take that pocket out, you get further distance, but you maybe give up some rebounds because your hands are stiff. So you get a little more pocket in there and eventually you’ll find a happy medium that works for you, not every other goalie, it works for you. Some goalies get by with shallower pockets, others with deeper pockets, but for you it’s what needs to happen and only you are going to find out what passes you need to make with the guys that are around you.

I’m Coach Edwards at LacrosseGoalieTips.com. Thanks for your question, Brian, and I look forward to your question. I’ll be answering further on down some weeks down the road with LacrosseGoalieTips.com. Do me a favor and leave me a comment below. Feel free to share this with all your buddies, really appreciate that.  I look forward to seeing you again at LacrosseGoalieTips.com. Thanks.

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