Forcing the Issue - I get to work with some pretty talented goalkeepers, most blessed with quickness and courage.  Even with them there is a tendency to play at the speed that they are used to and NOT at the next level (understandable).  As a player, I know that there is more than one great shooter to face in my future, so playing at the rate of the average shooter is not good.  The good shooter will defeat an average keeper with that approach.  Some keepers come with the idea that if you keep the ball out on 9-10-11 yard shots that is enough - inside that any you get are extra. 

BUT, inside of 10 is where most goals are scored, UNNECESSARILY.  To counter this, I have expanded our six yard drills to include quick stick drills between the coach and the goalies to get back into setup and keep eye contact on the ball continuously for 10 or more exchanges. By using the top hand as a guide between a goalie's eye and ball and playing up on the balls of the feet, the goalie will learn to attack the shot more and more often yielding more saves.  Then we have expanded this to include passes from the goalie to the coach and shots to off-hip and later bouncers to continue this athletically aggressive approach.  The goalie will miss until he/she reaches for the ball with the top hand and drives the bottom hand up field too (while stepping) on every shot.  Any move that pulls the hands in or down or where stepping is late (or weight on the heels) is likely to yield a goal. 

The repetitions work.  Is is frustrating but having that top hand driving to every shot from a high position is very fast and commitment to make these closer in shots grows with each success.  Try this with your more advanced keepers who seem to sometimes disappear when the shooters are close or the action is continuous.  If you do the drill with them (cup and helmet recommended), then you can demonstrate as well as experience how hard it is to "go" instead of "wait" on inside shots.

Teaching Speed - I work a lot on developing speed.  Some think is hand speed that is developed, but that is mostly inherited.  Some think that doing things like juggling helps.  It can't hurt, but lacrosse saves are different from juggling.  So this year I have been working on the four things that make the keeper fast.  All four are easily demonstrated so that helps a lot in getting the goalies to work in their direction.

  1. Point - When your top hand is between your eye and the ball (just to the side the line of sight) it is twice as fast than if it is anywhere else. I demonstrate this by having the keeper but their hands at chin level and block a light punch to the face mask (few blocks) and then have them use only their top hand with that hand up beside the eye and have them look at my punching hand AND the side of their top hand simultaneously.  The will block every punch and do it much earlier. 

  2. Step - Since we are not 6-8 feet wide we start running our of arms (slowing our hands as we do) when we move to shots to the corners.  By stepping we move the fast part of our hand area to the ball faster.  Big advantage, step toward the shot every time.

  3. Two Hand High - For off-side shots you can be twice as fast if you move the top hand across your body in a windshield wiper move (wrist to the back of the shaft) and move the bottom hand in front of the top hand forearm.  This compound "fulcrum" move increases the head lip speed to twice as fast as just a top hand move.  BUT, your wrists need to be to the back of the shaft or the gain in rotation is offset by slowness in resetting the grip at a crucial point in the move.

  4. Two Hand Low - The same principle applies low.  If in your stance your elbows point just outside your toes, you can chop the top forearm to the ground (twisting the wrist to rotate the stick, AND, drive the bottom hand over top of the top hand (and the ball) pushing it forward.  This is twice as fast as sweeping both hands low since you are using that fulcrum principle to increase the head lip speed as you go.  When you are done the shooter should see both palms as you trap the shot in your pocket.

Add these together and all the saves moves are 2x faster than a weight back keeper with his/her top hand at shoulder height.

Copyright Weston Lacrosse 2009