Well the lacrosse season is fast approaching, so here are ten lacrosse goalie tips to make this coming season your best ever.
Now it doesn’t matter if you’re a high school lacrosse goalie, or you’re just starting out. These lacrosse goalie tips are fundamental tips that ANY lacrosse goalie needs to apply as soon as possible. Some of the tips you may know, and others you might not be thinking of. Read through them all and see how you can improve your game starting today.
Lacrosse Goalie Tip 1 of 10: Be More Athletic
Doesn’t matter if your male of female, experienced or brand new, the more athletic you are, the better you can be.
Why is that? Well, if you’ve read our post on The Three Keys To Making Any Save you’ll know that the third key is Moving In Front Of The Ball.
The more athletic you are, the more explosive you will be and the faster you will be able to move in front of the ball. It’s simple.
But what does “Be More Athletic” mean?
- Work on getting stronger so you have the ability to be more explosive. Think “sprinter” and not “marathoner”. As a lacrosse goalie you are the most explosive athlete on the field so train that way! Get in the gym. Find a strength coach you can trust and learn how to lift safely so you can get stronger and learn to love the gym.
- Avoid long runs and use sprints and High Intensity Training instead. While the rest of your team is running laps, work on broad jumps up hills. Sprints of ten to twenty yards. Med ball tosses and other explosive throws and movements are recommended.
- Work on your flexibility. A tight muscle can’t contract and when you’re looking for explosive movements you need muscles that are relaxed and long. If flexibility is an issue think of yourself as an athlete running around with a thirty pound back pack on your back. Not good, right? You can’t out-train bad flexibility. Work on getting more flexibility and your ability to move is freed up without even hitting the weight room. Sweet deal!
- Treat your body like a million dollar racehorse. Eat clean. Reduce the Red Bulls and the Monster Energy Drinks. Limit the caffeine. Reduce the fast foods. You wouldn’t feed a million dollar racehorse that crap, so why would you feed yourself that crap?
Listen, there’s a ton more I could write here. These are quick suggestions but one’s I can give to 99% of the goalies out there. Most goalies I have coached are weak, tight, and poorly conditioned. And that goes for some of the professional lacrosse goalies I have worked with! This odd’s are this lacrosse goalie tip will work for you too.
Lacrosse Goalie Tips 2 of 10: Improve Your Stick Skills
Your goalie stick is your tool. Like a scalpel is to a surgeon, your stick is to you. It’s the most important piece of equipment you own. Master it. Think Kung Fu Panda and his expert use of Chopsticks. That’s gotta be you!
So how does a lacrosse goalie improve their stick skills?
Make Sure The Pocket Is Deep Enough For Your Strength Levels
New lacrosse goalies tend to put as big a bag in their stick as possible so they don’t give up rebounds. That’s great, but they tend not to be able to make a pass past the restraining line. If you’re really strong in your hands, forearms, wrists, and shoulders, you can probably do that. But if you’re not that strong you probably need to tighten up the pocket a bit.
Your pocket doesn’t give up bad rebounds, your hands do. I recommend using a tighter pocket in warm ups and practice to develop soft hands so you learn to not give up rebounds.
A shallower pocket will also help you make longer passes which gives you more options on clears.
“But Coach! I can’t dodge or fake with a shallow pocket!?” I get it. Listen, you’re not a middie playing goalie, you’re a goalie first. You’re meant to make saves. Do your best to control the rebounds. And then make great outlet passes to your teammates so they can go down the field and score. That’s your primary responsibility. When you get stronger physically, then you can do all the fancy stuff. Got it?
Make Sure Your Lacrosse Goalie Stick Is The Right Length
Gone are the days of long lacrosse goalie sticks. I was a pioneer when it came to short goalie sticks so I’ve seen this for a very long time.
How long should your lacrosse goalie stick be? Here’s a general guideline…hold your stick with your top hand up by the throat. Now drop your hand to your side so the head of the stick points to the floor and the butt end comes up behind the shoulder.
I recommend cutting the stick so that the butt end is at, or slightly above the top of your shoulder.
If you’re a lacrosse goalie who is still growing then leave the shaft a little long. But if you’re done growing, you can cut it a little shorter. This length works for most lacrosse goalies and it’s one of my best lacrosse goalie tips I can give to a goalie looking to have better saves and clears.
Hit The Wall…Or The Roof!
You’ve probably heard of wall ball, right? Well, do it!
It doesn’t have to be a lacrosse ball. It can be a tennis ball. A foam ball. Your sisters stuffy. I don’t care!!
What you are developing is the strength in your hands and your forearms and shoulders to be able to toss a ball (or anything, for that matter) at a target. By having a lot of repetition you are developing the fine motor skills in your hands to be able to do that.
I used to shoot tennis balls at my parents kitchen cabinets when they were gone. (Don’t try this at home kids. Their cabinets were solid pine. Yours probably aren’t. But if you’ve got a foam ball go right ahead!)
I also used to throw tennis balls on the roof and wait for them to bounce down. This really helped my shoulders as the throwing motion was higher up and was more like a clear. I had to reach out to catch balls that took funny bounces off the peak. So be creative!
Like most things, if you spent just fifteen minutes a day doing this, you’d be an excellent goalie faster than you ever thought possible. So put down the phone. Put some music in your ear buds and go hit the wall.
Lacrosse Goalie Tips 3 of 10: Set The Goal To Be a Great Lacrosse Goalie
Can you see yourself being a great goalie? “Well, no Coach. I’m just trying to be…better.”
I get it. But that’s not going to happen until you see yourself as a better goalie.
Most athletes totally mess this up let alone lacrosse goalies. They’ll start to believe they can be better once they see themselves get better. They are waiting for proof before they believe. But belief comes first. Proof comes later.
You’ll get better once you decide to be a great lacrosse goalie. Not just a good goalie. A great lacrosse goalie. The sooner you decide you want to be a great lacrosse goalie the better. Once you decide, everything else will fall into place.
Take some time today to set the goal to be a great lacrosse goalie. You’ll see it happen, when you believe that it will happen. I created our
Lacrosse Goalie Tips 4 of 10: Develop Your “Save Library” By “Wiring” The Goalie
As a lacrosse goalie you are basically the best “catcher” on the team. No matter what “pass” is sent your way, you’re going to get in front of it.
When you take shots in practice, you’re basically trying to be like a computer. No matter what key is pressed, you’re going to have the right response.
If the ball is shot, stick-side-high, you’re going to respond with your stick-side-high save. If the shot is off-stick-low, you’re going to respond with your off-stick-low save. That’s the right response for the correct input.
The problem comes when a shot is going somewhere and we react with the wrong response. Or a bad, what I call, “wiring.” We want our wiring to be correct, efficient, and as fast as possible.
You can do this one of two ways:
- On your own with no shooter.
- With a shooter.
How To Work On Your Own With No Shooter
Most lacrosse goalie tips centre on a lacrosse goalie getting shot on by an actual lacrosse player with a lacrosse ball. This is really limited thinking!!
The truth is you don’t need anyone to be shooting on you. You can get just as much “practice” by visualizing getting shot on which I cover in Lacrosse Goalie Tip #XXXXX
Once you get the hang of how you are supposed to move in front of the ball when it’s shot at you, you can spend lots of time (without a shooter) working on how you are supposed to move when the ball is going to a certain spot.
The main shots we tend to work on are:
Stick side high.
Stick side hip.
Off-stick hip (above the belly button. Top hand over the bottom hand.)
Off-stick hip (below the belly button. Top hand under the bottom hand.)
Stick side low.
And for high school goalies and younger:
Bounce shots to the same spots as above.
You can practice all of these without an actual shooter. You visualize the shooter taking a shot, and you make the proper movement in front of the ball as you would if it were a real ball. You are “wiring” in the proper response and by doing it over and over you are teaching the body how to respond as soon as your eyes recognize where the ball is going. With enough practice your body’s response becomes automatic.
Which leads me to…
Lacrosse Goalie Tips 5 of 10: Develop Your “Shot Library”
When we add a real shooter to the mix we are adding a whole ‘nuther layer to the experience.
An actual shooter can be shooting anything. A lacrosse ball. A tennis ball. A bunch of balled up socks. It doesn’t really matter. What we are doing now is teaching the eyes and the brain how to recognize what a real shot looks like. And then the body responds with the proper movement.
Most lacrosse goalies, and lacrosse coaches, think that getting shot on with an actual shooter is best. This can be true, to a point.
A shooter must be shooting with a stick with a proper pocket. No “coaches sticks” that have no pocket, or worse, a pocket that is too deep. (unless you’re a box lacrosse goalie of course.)
Why do we want a proper lacrosse stick? Because the release point of the stick is important. When we are learning, we want to be shot on by a stick that will shoot like one we will see on game day. If the release point of the stick is off in practice, it will totally mess with how you respond to a shot on game day.
If the stick is shallow, a shot you think is going stick side high could actually go off stick high. Or vice-versa depending on the shooter. And that can create a ton of confusion for a new lacrosse goalie. So an important lacrosse goalie tip…make sure you’re getting shot on by someone with a decent shot and a decent stick.
The sport of lacrosse has gotten so fast that a lacrosse goalie needs to learn what a proper shooting motion looks like. Because a lacrosse goalie will start to make decisions on where the ball is going before the shot leaves the stick. It’s important time a lacrosse goalie needs in order for the body to respond with the proper save in front of the ball.
Ok, so that’s it for this post. Thanks for reading!! Want the next five tips? Be sure to be subscribed to our newsletter, or check back in a day or two for the link!
As always, leave me a comment below. I read them all and want to hear how this helped you!
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