Two Great Questions - I received these last month and thought I would share them with you;

  1. Hand position: I have been reading articles on your website, specifically about hand positioning. usually i have my top hand just below my shoulder, with my bottom hand around my stomach area. On your website you say that the top hand should be around eye level, just above the shoulder. what i was wondering is where your bottom hand should be?
  2. Playing the Pipe: When a shooter is making a ? mark dodge and coming around the goal, and shoots from a low angle just above GLE I sometimes have trouble making the save. I was wondering if that when the shoot is coming around the goal if i should stay in my stance, or stand more upright and hug the pipe? Many MLL goalies stand completely upright and hold pipe when the shooter comes around the goal, and there are guys who get really low and bait the shooter to shoot high. which would you suggest?

GOALIEMAN: Regarding various techniques: It is clear to me that the commitment to being good is top on the list of successful goalie characteristics. Following four words;

  • Watch - watching the ball with the top hand from in the shooter's stick, off the lip, in the air and all the way into your pocket
  • Ready - being ready on the balls of the feet, leaning forward, antzy to go the shot
  • Go - driving the hands and stepping to the ball
  • Next - getting even more ready for the next shot

are the real keys to high performance. Watch, ready, go and really doing that on 9 out of 10, 18 out of 20 or 27 of 30 shots on goal is how great goalies get to high save percentages. Goalies can make a save in about 1/5 second and shooters can shoot in about 1/5 second. Anything about your technique that makes you slower than 1/5 second means you give the shooter a BIG chance to score. With that as an introduction let me address your two questions.

Regarding hand position - There are three ways to be fast with your hands;

  1. Keep your hand in line with your eye and the ball (biggest affect);
  2. Rotate both hands to the off stick side save (top to the ball in a windshield wiper move,
    bottom to in front of the top hand forearm)
  3. Rotate both hands to the low save (chop the top hand to the ball, punch the bottom hand over the ball)

To do #2 and #3 your wrists need to be at the back of the shaft (both wrists) AND (in answer to your question) your hands need to be one forearm apart (grab the stick with you top hand and place your forearm down the shaft and put your bottom hand just below that point) - this gives you the ability to fully rotate the stick in any direction while retaining the best reach/range to the corners.

To do #1, the most productive of the three, your hand has to be at eye level to start (or you give away about 1/10 second), so you might want to reconsider your "low hands" position

Regarding positioning on the pipe - if the keys to success are watch, ready and go and you are "standing tall" on the pipe then the shooter has to be just good enough to shoot around you. If you get into a full stance with hands up, knees bent and wide stance, now he has to a) get around your wider stance to see the far pipe and b) has to contend with your ability to make the save.

So if you want to be a placard for him to shoot around, then stand tall, it works on the mediocre shooters, but to beat the good shooters you need to make the save while still shading to the pipe (so he has to go into the middle of the defense to shoot the far pipe and where defensive help is most of the time).

Copyright Weston Lacrosse 2009

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