The Goalie Position
Goalies in the game of lacrosse are a special breed. It takes a ton of guts to stand in front of a round, hard, rubber ball that can be shot at speeds up to 121 mph. The average is between 75-85 mph, which is still extremely fast. Add in a bunch of offensive and defensive players in front of you and the task of making a save gets increasingly more difficult. The goalie is the last line of defense and while stopping the ball is a goalie’s main role, directing the defense and clearing the ball with the team is also a huge part of the position.
A coach’s dream is to have every player on the team crave improvement and constantly grow as an individual and teammate. If your goalie is leading the charge, this mindset can become more contagious than ever within your team as your goalie is the backbone of your defense and sometimes the team as a whole.
How to get better at the goalie:
Learn/revisit the basics. This includes proper stance, footwork, and stick handling. Watch professional and college lacrosse goalies, how they move, and how they handle their sticks. Seek goalie specific training! Don’t JUST take shots.
Practice regularly. The more you practice, the better you will become at making saves. Try to find a partner or coach who can help you practice different types of shots and saves as often as possible. I’ve heard of goalie’s using tennis ball launchers to train.
Study film. This was already mentioned, but you should also film yourself and watch yourself in the cage to make adjustments and improvements.
Play in games. The best way to improve your goaltending skills is to play in real games. This will help you learn how to handle the pressure and excitement of competition. It will also teach you that you can’t make every save, and to have a short memory. Next play mentality!
Here are some additional tips for improving your goalie skills:
Develop good footwork. Goalies need to be able to move quickly and efficiently in the net. Practice drills that focus on agility, lateral movement, and speed. The goal is only six feet wide, so short quick steps are all a good goalie really needs.
Keep your head on a swivel. Goalies need to be aware of their surroundings at all times. This means keeping an eye on the ball, the shooters, and their teammates.
Use your stick wisely. Your stick is your best friend as a goalie. Learn how to use it to block shots, pick off passes, and pick up ground balls. If you have the best stick on your team as a goalie, then the rest of the team will have immense trust in you in the clearing game!
Communicate with your teammates. Talk to your defense and let them know where the ball is and what you need from them. This will help them to protect you and keep the ball out of the net. It also helps to pump the defense up and give them a pat on the back as often as possible.
Mental toughness is important for goalies as they need to stay focused and positive even when they are getting peppered with shots. They also need to be able to bounce back from mistakes.
If you are serious about improving your goaltending skills, consider working with a private coach or attending a goaltending camp. These resources can provide you with the personalized instruction and support you need to succeed.
Remember goalies, the only thing your coaches and defense ask is that you make the saves that you are supposed to make and be able to catch and throw in the clear. Stay poised in the cage, be a great teammate, and enjoy every minute that you have in the goal.