Coach Jonathan Edwards describes the dangers of putting young goalies in the cage full-time. He elaborates the difficulty children have due to underdeveloped eyes, especially when it comes to playing tough sports like lacrosse. Coach Edwards advises children aged 10 and under to stay away from the cage full time and work on developing stick skills and becoming better athletes instead.

0:16 – When we’re young our eyes are undeveloped, which affects depth perception.
1:00 – Playing with balloons with young kids is easier for them because their eyes can focus on the movement.
1:40 – It’s important for young lacrosse goalies to develop as athletes before staying in the cage.
2:30 – Lacrosse is probably the hardest sport, especially for a young kid to learn.
3:00 – Coach Edwards advises rotating young goalies because they become targets and should learn respect for the position.
4:53 – Putting kids 10 and under becomes a waste of time and can ruin their confidence.
5:32 – Help young athletes develop their skills and avoid being passed by by a sport they love.


Coach Edwards here with and and I want to talk today about why young goalies shouldn’t be goalies.

The Development of the Human Body

There’s a thing that a lot of people don’t understand about the development of the human body, and that’s that our eyes, when we are very young, so up until about 8 years old to almost 10, our eyes are not round. They’re oval. What that does is that really affects depth perception.

Kids Can’t Catch

If you’ve ever thrown a ball to a young child, odds are you worry about hitting them in the head, right? Even if it’s a small ball, you don’t want to hit them in the face because they can’t catch it. The natural tendency is to think, “Well, they can’t catch it because they’re just young, so we’ll just keep playing and eventually they’ll get it.”

Playing With Balloons

One of the things that you can do with a young child, just for fun by the way, is use balloons. Because a balloon doesn’t move that fast, and the balloon they can focus on because it’s moving very slowly. A young athlete can focus on a ball that’s coming at them quickly, so in a straight line. But if there’s any sort of arc in that, if you watch a young kid, it’s funny. They get really kind of freaked out by it and they end up throwing their hands up to protect their head and it’s kind of humorous…if you think seeing a young kid getting hit in the head is funny…which I do sometimes.

8 Year Olds Should Be Athletes First, Goalies Second

I’ll get emails every once in a while from parents going, “Hey, my daughter is 8 and she just loves goaltending!” and I read that and I just cringe because I don’t want an 8 year old to love goaltending. I want an 8 year old to love becoming an athlete and I want them out on the field, and I want them with lots and lots of touches with the ball. I don’t want them standing in the crease.

Why Some Kids are Better

I see young games and they’re cute and all, and you see some of the club teams that have the U8 groups and they’re good, you know, you think, “Wow, it’s great!” And people go, “Wow, isn’t that cool? Look at how talented those 8 year olds are!” Basically their eyes are developed and they can catch and throw. That makes sense for that group, but for the majority of kids whose eyes aren’t developed, that’s why learning how to play lacrosse is hard.

Lacrosse is the Hardest Sport

Learning how to play lacrosse is the hardest sport, I think pretty much, next to hockey on those skates. But even that, you can put a kid out on skates who can barely skate but can just stand up and kind of have a stick on the ice like a tripod, and they can bat a puck to their buddy in a straight line. But in lacrosse we’re running, we’re throwing, we’re catching the balls moving in an arc while running down the field. It’s a really complicated thing.

Young Goalies Become Targets

So when you put a goalie in the cage, they’re really just a target. If they get hit, great, if they don’t and the ball goes in, it’s usually to my mind pretty much a waste of time. It can also be very disheartening for a young goalie, especially if they’re getting hurt. If they’re getting hit a lot because the shooters don’t have the ability to be very accurate so a goalie’s going to take a lot of hits with the ball. If they take so many hits that their confidence gets rocked, who knows what you could have created out of that kid.

Rotate Young Goalies

I didn’t start playing goalie until I was in 5th grade. So what is that, maybe like 12? My son’s 9, he’s in 3rd grade, 3, so like 11-12. I’d rather see young kids not playing goalie. I know a team needs a goalie but I don’t want to see your kid basically being in the cage all year. I want to see your kids getting rotated through the goal, really to develop an appreciation for what it’s like to be a goalie. We usually hear about in junior high school or in high school about how offensive players just don’t care about the protection of the goalie. It’s like a firing squad. Parents use words like firing squad and target practice and stuff like that, and that’s not very positive, is it?

Learning What Goalies Go Through

I think when everybody’s kids get a change at the cage and they understand that they need to wear protection and they’re aware, “Oh, this isn’t fun,” and if you take a bad shot and you hit a goalie, you should really apologize at young ages. You don’t apologize when you’re at older ages and high level, but at these younger ages you really need it.

Kids 10 and Under Should Wait to be Goalies

The key here is that I don’t think young goalies are really very good in the cage. I wouldn’t say before 10 years old should they be in the cage, because if their eyes aren’t developed it’s going to be a waste of time for them. And then also we want to develop and build that Confidence Skill Circle and we want to develop those goalies so that they’re really good long term. We don’t care if our goalie is the top goalie in grade 8. Sure, if it happens we feel all good and parents are like, “Oh look, my son’s number 1, he’s the number 1 goalie and he’s 8, I love it!” or, “He made the U8s at 6, just so proud.” Whatever. I want that kid to be fantastic when he’s in high school.

Let Kids Develop as Athletes

If we take that long-term approach, young goalies in the cage aren’t really the best answer. If your goalie is 8 and you’re listening to this and your goalie is 8 and 10 and they’ve been in the cage all year, I don’t like it. I don’t like it. They need to be out playing, developing their stick skills especially. Learn how to throw and catch, learn how to be athletic, because eventually the game’s going to catch up to them and if they haven’t developed that skill they’re going to be wasting their time, and that’s disappointing. The most disappointing thing to me is seeing a kid who loves the position, who loves the sport, who hasn’t developed the athletic ability, doesn’t have that foundation, and then the sport passes them by. That’s really sad. I don’t like seeing that at all.


So anyway, get your young kid out of the cage, get playing and you’ll be good. Alright? Good luck with that. Leave me a comment, leave me a post and I’ll talk to you soon. Cheers. Bye.

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Coach Edwards will be in New England and Upstate New York this summer.

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