2GoalieOne of the hardest positions on the field, the lacrosse goalkeeper is pretty much the quarterback of the game. With a combination of fast reflexes, footwork, effective communication and perseverance, you too can become an amazing goalie. If you practice and don't be put off by other people playing your position as well as you, sometimes better than you play try harder.
3Communication/Leadership Talk to your defense and let them know where the ball is on the field. As the quarterback of the defense, you must recognize situations such as fast breaks and direct your defensemen to the correct positions. The tone of your voice says a lot; if you are not a vocal person, you better start being one. Stay positive even after a goal is scored. A goalie who has control of his defense will have the respect of the team.
4AttitudeIf you give up a goal do not get down on yourself or your defense. You can't take the goal off the scoreboard but you can recognize what you did wrong, practice that step or specific movement, AND GET THE NEXT ONE. Have confidence in your abilities to stop the ball. If you lose your confidence, your defense will soon follow. Always believe you can save every shot.
5StanceThe first thing that a youth goalie should work at is his stance. The goalie stance is an athletic one that allows the goalie to be in a comfortable position that he can react out of in a split second. First, a goalie’s legs are a little wider than shoulder width apart. This gives them a solid athletic base with good balance and also takes up some room down low in the goal. When a youth goalie keeps his legs together close, it gives up a lot of room for low shots and also means that he has to take huge steps to get across the goal.
6Stance (Cont)Next, goalies’ knees should be bent depending on what the goalie feels comfortable with athletically. Some goalies like Greg Cattrano play with their knees only slightly bent, while goalies like Trevor Tierney play with their knees extremely bent and their rear-end low to the ground. It is usually easier for most athletes to pop out of a squatted position for a high shot, than it is to squat down low from a standing up position for a low shot. Bending the knees is also important for keeping weight on the balls of the feet. Some goalie coaches have their goalies stand up on their toes. This is a bad habit to develop because it makes goalies fall forward as the shooter is releasing the ball and does not allow them to react. The goalie in a solid stance is balanced well. Simply bending his knees allocates his weight on his feet to where it needs to be. However, goalie is a position that the athlete must find what works best for him. Simply giving him options and making him think of some of these things is all you should do as a coach.
7Stance (Cont)Third, the goalie’s back should be as straight up and down as possible so that the goalie takes up the greatest amount of surface area. His arms should be extended away from his body and his hands should be chest width apart on his shaft, with his top hand being right below the plastic of the head. If his hands are too close together, then he will not have enough control of his stick. If his hands are too wide apart, his hand movements will be too slow and his stick will not get across his body fast enough to make saves effectively.
8MovementTo move from pipe to pipe, playing back on the goal line makes it easy to move around. The goalie only needs to take small steps and keep his hips square to the shooter. When the ball is directly at the top center of the field, then the goalie wants to have both his heels barely touching the goal line. As the ball moves to top left, the goalie takes tiny steps, keeping his left foot on the goal line and bringing his right foot up a few inches. The goalie should picture two lines coming out of his shoulders and pointing out towards the shooter, like a target. Both of these techniques allow the goalie to keep his body square to the shooter. The further down the left side of the field that the ball carrier gets, the further over the goalie should get his left foot to the pipe while keeping it on the goal line, and the higher his right foot should come off the goal line.
9Movement (Cont)Basically, the goalie draws an imaginary square around himself in his stance. If the ball is shot directly inside that square that he is in, then he just reacts with his stick. If it is outside of that square, then he steps horizontally. To step to one side, he wants to push off his back foot as if he was ice skating. So if he is stepping to his left, he wants to push off and explode off his right foot. To go to the right, he explodes off his left foot. This is much more efficient and powerful than stepping with one foot and dragging the other one across. To know which way he has to step, the goalie wants to draw a line down the middle of his body. If the ball goes to the left of that line, he wants to step to his left. If the ball is to the right of the imaginary line, he wants to step to his right.
10Stick MovementThe movement of the stick is based on where the ball is shot. If the ball is shot stick-side high, then the goalie simply keeps his stick up and catches the ball. Surprisingly, this is a tough shot for goalies because they tend to drop their sticks as the shooter winds up. If the ball is shot off-stick-side high, then the goalie brings his top hand over his bottom hand to get his stick head across. Young goalies should first learn to catch passes to off-stick-side high. Young goalies tend to “stab” their sticks at the ball on this shot. Remind them to keep their stick head flat on the pane of glass in front of them and catch the ball like an egg. On stick-side hip, they just lower the head of their stick to their hip to catch the ball. On off-stick-side hip, they bring their stick across their body by dropping the stick head to their hip and then getting it across. Due to the distance of this movement, this is the hardest shot for goalies at all levels to save. On stick side low shots, they simply drop the head of their stick and try to get it perpendicular to the ground. On off-stick-side low shots, goalies do the same thing, only they have to get their stick to the other side of their feet. On all low shots, it is ideal to have your stick perpendicular and stabbed into the ground, so the ball does not get underneath the head of the stick.