Coaching Goalies

I set out in writing the book Lacrosse Goaltending to improve upon deficiencies in lacrosse; too few goalies and too few good coaches. It seems silly that one person could change those two big topics, but I continue to try.  Coaching Goalies is conceptually simple, as follows;

  • Find a goalie and an add'l goalie - you need a couple/three on each team

  • Build a relationship with each keeper that indicates you can help them

    • SPEND time regularly with keepers (only) working on skills/concentration

    • Have a simple structure to goal play (Watch, Ready, Go, Next is mine)


      • Learn and teach watching with the top hand

      • Learn and teach a productive stance

      • Understand/teach moving to the ball on each shot (hands and stepping)

      • Teach how to get ready for the next shot- no matter previous shot outcome

    • Learn techniques that work within this structure and those that don't

    • Learn to see the keeper's actions while you are shooting


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  • Plan explanations for each adjustment/improvement - keepers need to buy into it

  • Build words that reward good play and  indicate incorrect play without being negative - keepers face enough negative

  • Learn a progression to both building confidence and skill;

    • stick side high, off-stick high, stick side hip, off-stick side hip

    • add speed at 10 yds, work at 6 yards,

    • bounce shots between the feet, bounce shots stick side outside the feet, off-stick bounce shots,

    • cross-crease feeds, rear-to-front feeds, drive shots, dodge shots (rear, GLE, top center, top wing)

  • Work on that progression with a lot of the 1st early and a little of the next, then more bouncers and a little on feeds, etc. - Mix things up especially when progress slows or attention wains.

There is a lot of pressure in goaltending, not because of the effect on the score, but because our natural tendencies are to duck or run when things are thrown at us.  So, it takes a lot of repetitions in controlled circumstances for a goalie to progress. That is why they don't get better by scrimmaging or game experience, at least not as fast as field players.  Understanding this is the critical part to coaching goalies. Spending dedicated and controlled goalie time using repeatable sequences and reinforcement is how most goalies progress.  Thus a coach who makes time for keepers has good keepers.  A coach who studies goaltending, keeping ahead of the progress of his/her keeper is crucial to good results.  And, speaking from decades of experience as a goalie coach and goalie, goalies never quit needing coaching to either improve or avoid a bad habit that creeps in slowly to tarnish their game.

Copyright Weston Lacrosse 2014

Copyright Weston Lacrosse 12-2010