Goalie Fundamentals

Objectives - There are misunderstanding about what is needed from a goalie it is more than saves.  The objective in my view is to;

         Get the Ball back and get it to the offense

Saves with no rebounds is the most obvious way, but there are others including, ground balls,  saves of balls that are modestly wide of the cage, run-outs and pickoffs.  This helps answer the question; should I go for a ground ball.  The answer is yes, if you can scoop it cleanly and aren't leaving the cage completely unguarded.  Should you run out every shot; yes for guys and maybe for girls.  For girls, if a foul occurs at that point then the goalie is stopped from returning to the cage (boy, is that a dumb rule) and thus going to the end line or helping get a contested ground ball near the end line may be a judgment call for the woman keeper - but, going to get it or doing the run-out is the preference since we get the ball back. Once that is said the keeper needs to be ready and focused on the ball on every shot, he/she needs to make some saves that seem impossible, and don't give up anything soft. 

Building technique that avoid rebounds and makes outlet passes effective are goals that complete the keeper with good save skills.

Key Parts of Goaltending - There are save oriented parts of goaltending summarized in keywords; Watch, Ready, Go and Next and non saves all summed up as follows;

1- Watch the Ball: On passes, on the ground and on shots from in the shooters stick, off the lip, in the air, through the bounce (no blink) and all the way into the goalie stick pocket.

2 - Watch the Ball with Your Top Hand: The hand is fastest when in line between the eyes and the ball - keep it there - even point at the ball on passes and during shots and then drive that hand to the ball and push the rest of your body behind the hand to the ball for the save.

3 - Great Stance/Ready - On the balls of the feet, knees bent, toes pointed at the shooter, chest in front of the hips, top hand at eye level between the tip of the shoulder and the side of the helmet, elbows pointed down at the toes and wrists to the back of the shaft with bottom hand in front of the bottom hand elbow (stick canted an an angle across the body).  This allows for the smoothest, fasted most efficient movement of the hands, body, feet and stick to all the corners of the goal

4 - Go - Make the Save Easy - Step toward the shooter to get your hands to the ball quicker with the hand leading to the ball (hands move first). Keep the stick face, chest, toes and hips pointed up field to where the ball comes from and stay on the balls of the feet throughout using three steps each time (so you are not stopping at a critical time by using no steps or only one step to the ball). The save is made without trying to catch or cradle the ball.  The stick and bent elbows combination should absorb the shot (with the most area in front of it) and then the ball can be controlled.

5 - Start the Break - Be a great passer.  Come out of the save or ground ball and reset the feet and hips (to point at the sidelines) for a strong overhand throw up field.  Since help comes at the 30 yard line for girls and at the midline for boys (open attackmen), the keeper must be able to throw accurately 40-50 yards) and make good decisions with the ball and regarding when and whom to throw to.

6 - Protect the Pipe - The shooters prefer shooting between you and the near pipe (less defensive pressure) so use the body to protect that are more and depend on the move to the long pipe more.  This makes the shooter go to the middle where there is more defensive help.

7 - Talk - First, talk to the defense where the key calls for boys in order are; Check, Slide, Clear and Rebound and for girls; Slide, Clear and Rebound -- all communication to the team about changes in their individual responsibilities and about things they cannot see.  Second is the most important thing in life and lacrosse, self talk.  The most crucial truth is;

        You get what you say to yourself, out loud

if you put in the associated work to accomplish what you say.  If you say you are bad (e.g. "my bad") then you are, if you speak in future success then you are on your way.  So the most important phrase to say, out loud, is';

         Get the Next One

after every shot (combined with what ever adjustments you might need such as Watch the Ball, Set Up Earlier, Step Every Time, Drive Up Field), because "If you wait, you're late", "If your backin', you're slackin", "If you're lookin', you're cookin", and "If you're seein', your believin"

And then focus on saves first, good ball handling second and the keeper's game will improve.

Copyright Weston Lacrosse 2009