Technique - Why work on it? As understanding of goaltending as increased, there are some truths that yields more insights.  Over the last couple of years, it became more obvious that, when working trying to beat certain keepers, they were good at some times and not at others.  Those other times involved the keeper performance just after a dodge or after a pass.  Further, the most productive pass was cross crease from the right as one faces the goal to the right handed finishing attackman on the other side of the crease.  The keeper is many times late on the save.  This pass is one of the most frequent and productive in the game.  Working with a stopwatch one can see that this pass takes about 0.4-0.5 seconds and most keepers were taking longer than that to get across to a ready position.  By working on ball tracking and by using specific footwork with various keepers, we found that you can get cross crease in under 0.4s. 

Save Timing - This led to some other thinking and research that goes sort of like this.  Given enough time from the time the ball leaves the lip of the shooters stick until it reaches the goal, almost any technique will work.  Even sloppy goaltenders can make saves on shots that take 1/3 to 4/10ths second.  But, most shots are quicker than that, but the best shots from even close are 1/5 of  a second (18-20 hundredths or thereabouts). What most people don't know is that a goaltender using all the best of technique can make a save in about 1/5 of a second (18-20 hundredths). 

Slow Save Techniques - For saves from the correct position;

  • If the goalie doesn't see the ball come off the lip of the shooters stick (watch the ball)
    add 6-10 hundredths.

  • If the goalie isn't on the balls of the feet and lending toward the shot (ready) add 6-10 hundredths.

  • If the keeper is not stepping to the ball add 6-10 hundredths (go - if you wait, your late). 

  • If the keeper watches the shooter or fake instead of the ball, add 10+ hundredths. 

  • If they watch the ball but have their hands down (chin or below) add 10 hundredths. 

  • If the keeper adjusts his grip during the save (especially loosens the top hand grip or lets the bottom determine stick position), add 10 hundredths or more. 

  • If the wrists are not to the back of the shaft, add 10 hundredths on off-side shots - probably low too.

  • If the step is to the side (not up field) the hip and body turns. It takes time to correct, add 10 hundredrths

This math is interesting because it tells the coach and  the keeper some critical things about saves.

  1. It is possible to be fast enough to even stop inside shots

  2. Bad techniques increases the keepers save time.

  3. Even only a couple of poor techniques make the keeper slower than the good shooters and at the  mercy of the quick and accurate shooters.

So an otherwise quick keeper who looks good against mediocre shooters but whose technique isn't the best will get smoked by really good shooters with their higher speed, better accuracy, fakes and deception. So work on save technique so the keeper is as productive and quick as possible.

Setup Techniques - Getting to the ready during changes in play involving cross-crease moves have specific techniques to cut the time from ready on one side to ready on the other in less time than the better passes.  Left-to-right and right-to-left passes need to be practiced.  The detailed footwork techniques are different, but the keys are to track the ball in the air using the top hand, push hands away from the body to help staying on the balls of the feet at the end and RUN from side to side (not shuffle).  Similarly, feeds-from-behind to top need to be practiced (both sides) using a single/fast pivot while tracking the ball with the top hand and pushing the hands away from the body to stay on the balls of the feet so that the keeper is ready before the ball is shot.

Keep Working - Time is not on the side of the keeper so the successful coach will work every day with their keepers on something that effects setup time (such as cross crease pass footwork) or save time (such as getting the feet and hands to move simultaneously to the ball on every save type).  What this says is that there are lots of topics and lots of productive drills and drill combinations usable every day before practice to help the keeper progresses/improves throughout the season.

Copyright Weston Lacrosse 3/15/09

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