Keys to Workouts

Lessons Learned - There is a lot to talk about this year on goalies.  Mostly about concentration on the ball and mastery of fundamentals.

Observations: Both in and out of goal I am finding, and I am hearing from other coaches, that there is a drop-off in fundaments from field players and goalies.  I see it in lots of ways.  Fewer players are going to instructional camps. Further, the drive to participate in nearly every tournament (boys and girls) to get noticed by college coaches has produced what seems to be a "me-first" approach to the game (instead of the team oriented offense, defense and goaltending that makes lacrosse so special). 

Clearly NCAA championship teams have that teamwork but at the high school level and inside more than a few college teams it is hard to find.  Some strong high school club coaches are building long haul tournament teams so that all the fundamentals and team play can be taught there (since ) and some youth based camps (a few) are really emphasizing getting the fundamentals down early.  But, this is much harder to do for goalies since very few under 13 year olds are good at translating limited goalie instruction into best technique play.  I am hopeful that fundamentals will be re-emphasized in camps and tournaments and am working to that end in all of our goalie camps and clinics.  

Goalies: Many youth and high school goalies are making their saves by reading the shooter - more than watching the ball.  I have changed what we do to teach goaltending to emphasis watching the ball even more and use the 6 yard drill more, and more to prove to the keepers that by watching the ball (with the top hand as a guide and lead) that close in saves can be made (as well as long range shot performance improved).  

Further, the human body's natural defensive tendency is to overreact to lots of motion (drives, fakes, split dodges).  This is the reason that many goalies who warm up well perform poorly in games against teams that run, dodge and feed.  So, I have changed both our teaching workouts and warm-ups to include not only lots of feeds, but also six yard drill, ball toss drill, sweeps, drives (up top and from behind), fakes and split dodges so that the keeper is already concentrating on the ball and picking up the ball early even when those distractions abound.  Adding these drills and situations into your goalie workouts is both work for the coach and frustrating initially for the goalie, but the resulting improvement in play is dramatic.

Six Yard Drill - Six Yard Drill  is shooting from 6 yards in front of the goal line, initially high and to the corners.  From this point the keeper cannot make saves by reading your body language/motion and must play the ball, preferably with the top hand pointing at the ball (but not in front of either eye).  Then, once some progress is made on saves then shoot hi to lo.  In order to make saves, the keeper must play on the balls of his/her feet and track the ball with the top hand very closely.

Then I shoot to any area usually hiding the ball behind my head or back somewhat so that the keeper must find the lip of the stick to find the ball in time (as well as point, play on the balls of the feet and track the ball from me to the pocket of his/her stick).

One can tell if the keeper is tracking the shooters body language / motion by switching hands or hiding the ball some and see if they are as effective.  If not then go to 6 yard since they are picking the ball up very late (and probably giving up a bunch of rebounds).  

Ball Toss Drill - This drill is used to work on eye-hand coordination and on stepping to the shot. Have one goalie set up in his best stance WITHOUT a stick (but with gloves on). Have the other goalie toss the ball overhand from about 5-6 yards away at the place where stick side high would be. The receiving goalie needs to:
    a) catch the ball with his thumb and forefinger
    b) needs to step to the ball (from ball of foot to ball of foot)
Then they reverse roles and the receiving goalie throws to the other goalie. They must get 10 in a row without dropping it once. If they drop the ball, then they start the count over. This is done a total of 8 times as follows:

  1. 10 IN A ROW to stick side high
  2. 10 to off stick side high
  3. 10 to stick side hip
  4. 10 to off stick side hip
  5. 10 to stick side low (shoe lace level)
  6. 10 to off stick side low (shoe lace level)
  7. 6 off the short bounce just outside of and in front of the foot on stick side
  8. 6 off the short bounce just outside of and in front of the foot on off stick side

If the keeper is stepping and watching the ball throughout the catch is easily learned. Don't let anyone catch in the palm and make them turn their wrists in the same rotation as must be used to guide the stick to the ball.

Copyright Weston Lacrosse 11-9--08