When it comes to training lacrosse goalies (or any athlete for that matter) a common mistake is often made to weight the stick. The idea is that if an athlete is throwing something, moving something, kicking something…wouldn’t it be better if we made that thing…heavier?
Take the stick for instance. It’s no secret that in the Three Keys To Making Any Save the third key, Moving In Front Of The Ball takes the most time. And the main part that goalies tend to focus on is moving the stick and usually with just their arms…
So you might think it makes sense to make that stick heavier. And you wouldn’t be completely wrong. Just partially wrong.
Bodybuilding Mentality Doesn’t Always Apply To Explosive Lacrosse Goalies
A simple weight room mentality would have you think, “Well, if I can move a heavier weight I’ll get stronger than if I moved a lighter weight.” And you’re right…sort of. Because the one variable people forget is…how fast are you moving that lighter weight?
To a young goalie, a lacrosse goalie stick is heavy to begin with. It’s longer than a short stick. It’s got more plastic because of the larger head and it has more mesh in that head too. Actually it has a lot more mesh. (Probably three times the mesh of a short stick.)
Not to mention that most goalie sticks kids first start using have a cheap 6000 Aluminum shaft on them and they are even more cumbersome. Heavy. And a small body just can’t move them very fast. So now you take a young/new lacrosse goalie and tell them to move in front of the ball with that stick and it’s like they are trying to move that stick through mud. Not a recipe for being explosive.
You Don’t Want To Make Your Lacrosse Goalie Slower…Do You?
So what you have is the most explosive athlete on the field moving like a dinosaur through a tar pit. Not good.
Not to mention that just the shear weight of the goalie stick puts the wrong muscles on load. Just holding the stick in the air puts a lot of pressure on the front of the deltoids and the biceps. Not to mention the upper back and the low back.
But when we want to move explosively to the ball we need to recruit the muscles deep in our hips as well as many of the rotational muscles deep in our core. (I know, I know…this is getting a little technical.)
Lastly, to move explosively in front of the ball we have to use more of our pecs and triceps to drive our hands through and to the ball and not those delts that are trying to hold that stick in the air.
A Goalie Stick May Already Be Too Heavy For Your Goalie
So with this stick already being heavy, it’s not really a recipe for wiring in good technique but what do uninformed coaches do? They fill the shaft with sand! Thinking, “Jimmy we are going to make this stick heavy so that when you dump the sand out the stick is going to feel light.”
Now that’s partially true. That stick will feel light, for a little while. It’s a neurological trick kind of like laying on the floor and having someone pull your arms behind you for a minute. When they let your arms down slowly it feels like your arms are moving through the floor. It feels like it’s happening but it’s really not true.
In the case of this lacrosse goalie, they might feel like the stick is light for a minute or so, but all they’ve done is wired in moving really slowly to the ball with that heavy stick.
So Should You Weight Your Lacrosse Goalie Stick?
My fast answer for this is, no. Remember, it’s all about progression.
Think of it this way…you’re not going to move a twenty pound dumbbell fast if you can’t move a five pound dumbbell fast. So loading up at this point doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Advice For Young/New Lacrosse Goalies
For some young or new lacrosse goalies, playing faster in the cage with a short stick may be a better idea for a while. If they are moving it with a good pace, and you can see that their hips and their knees can handle the weight and move explosively then you can add some weight to THAT stick while they take shots in warm ups.
Let them use the goalie stick for the rest of practice to get used to the weight of it. Have them work on long passing, but if it looks like it weighs a thousand pounds in their hands, you’re not doing any favours for them neurologically.
Advice For Older/Stronger Lacrosse Goalies
I was first introduced to what I’m about to tell you by a very hard-to-find book called “Thrown Free” about an East German discus athlete. In that book, and in many other books on elite training I read later, I learned that in sports like discus, and javelin and shot put, they would add weight to those implements for training.
But not a lot.
We’re not talking pounds, we’re talking grams. The equivalent of the tiny lead weights you might used to weight down a fishing hook.
So if an advanced goalie is moving the stick explosively, and I see that they aren’t breaking down in their hips or at the knee, I might add weight to the stick but only in a certain sequence. To be honest, only my most advanced Coaching Clients might use this technique, but occasionally it’s worth a try.
A word of warning though. You can really mess up a goalie neurologically if you don’t take extreme care in how you apply this technique. As a goalie we need to remain “twitchy”. Fast. Explosive. Messing with that formula can set you back to a point you don’t recover.
Many times I get these questions from goalies or parents of young goalies trying to get their goalie better…faster. But my advice tends to be the same…
There are many other places to spend your time with your goalie. Instead of weighting the stick why not ask, can my lacrosse goalie do ten, solid, three second down and three second up push ups? If not…get that kid in the weight room and get him or her stronger.
This isn’t a new idea by any means. In fact, I first blogged about this topic of weighting a lacrosse goalie stick last year.