Is there a benefit to ladder drills for lacrosse goalies? If you’ve read some of my past articles you might think I’m totally against them.
And you’d be right! It is on my list of 7 Drills That Are a Waste of Time For Lacrosse Goalies after all.
But could there be a small benefit to ladder drills? Are they really worth the time? Especially for lacrosse goalies? Let’s dig in.
A Concerned Mom With a Great Question
So I got a Message on Facebook this week from a mom whose daughter doesn’t like ladder drills and is being forced to do them by the older captains on her team. Here’s the message:
“We have a bunch of varsity girls helping with my daughters team…one of the varsity goalies has been giving her one on one time during the practice, which is great.
“My daughter struggles with different ladder drills. (I personally don’t get how ladder drills are really important but it seems to be something everyone pushes maybe muscle memory??) so she says she doesn’t like them, and she gets embarrassed in front of everyone when she cant figure it out. So the Varsity goalie said, “Well, were gonna work on that more since you don’t like them. Which is good. Don’t not do something because your bad at it, you need to work at it. My daughter is also very hard on herself but she picks up things so quickly so she just needs time to practice. she also is self aware of her mistakes which is great.”
The Cost/Benefit Of Doing Ladder Drills For Lacrosse Goalies
I would say I get that type of question about once a year. Maybe twice. “Why are we doing ladder drills?” It’s a great question.
With ANY drill we have to ask, “Is this the best use of my time right now?” Is this the biggest bang-for-the-buck sort of thing.
In this case, and for many ladder drills, they can be tough. They can even be demoralizing. The last thing ANY kid wants to do is look stupid in front of people he or she respects and that’s what is happening here. So the question is, “Is that worth it?”
But like this mom said, just because your’e not good at it doesn’t mean you can just avoid it. More on that in a moment.
When you have other goalies working with younger goalies there is rarely any great coaching happening. The default technique is submission. So when this young goalie says she doesn’t like them the older goalie is naturally going to default to, “Well we’ll just do more then.”
Not a lot of empathy there. But that’s ok.
Why I Don’t Like Ladder Drills
The major reason I don’t like ladder drills for lacrosse goalies is because you are moving the feet under the body and not driving the body over the feet. THAT is the main problem with it.
In a sport like soccer, ladder drills are great because an athlete must balance their center of gravity while sticking out a foot to receive a ball and control it.
Something people forget about soccer players however is that when they need to get power on a pass they are driving the body over the feet and ladder drills are no longer useful for that.
This goalie could be doing a number of other things to strengthen the hips and ladder drills isn’t one of them.
The Reason I Like a Ladder Drill
I want my athletes to adopt a Challenge Mindset. I want them to be ready for anything and to overcome adversity. So to do that I can use a ladder drill, but I can also use a lot of other drills as well that are more tightly related to being a better lacrosse goalie.
Being creative with shot taking is one of them but I won’t get into that here.
The point is, if I’m trying to develop a Challenge Mindset, is using a ladder drill the best way to do it? Probably not.
Now if this goalie has a coach who is dead set for using ladder drills, then fine. Accept that challenge and get better at them.
My advice to this goalie was to do her homework. Just like if you’re struggling with math class, you’re going to go home and do some extra work. You may even get a tutor.
Go buy an agility ladder. Pretty much every sporting goods store will sell them. Soccer shops have them. Get one on amazon and then put it in your yard.
Oh wait. What? It’s snowing outside? Put it in your basement. Put it in the garage. Leave it out and ready to go so you can so some at any moment. Heck, put it in the hallway from your bedroom to the bathroom and do some ladder work on your way to taking a leak. Seriously.
All that work adds up. Accept the challenge.
Olympian Jonathan Edwards is "Coach Edwards". He runs the longest consecutively running lacrosse goalie blog on the planet. He is the "behind the scenes goalie mind" for some of the top lacrosse goalies on the planet and he has worked with lacrosse goalies from Junior High, to the PLL. He coaches goalies privately, year round, via video and phone through his Lacrosse Goalie University goalie coaching program. Don't wait for the summer to get to a camp and don't hire some local college kid who is home on break. Get unbiased goalie coaching from the coach who is changing the game, one goalie at a time.