Concentration - That's a Key

I am often asked what are the keys to successful goaltending and there are a few answers.  Bob Scott in his landmark book 'Lacrosse Technique and Tradition' indicates that the cornerstone is COURAGE.  I believe that. Building on courage, the next ingredient is concentration.  This may be the most overlooked. part of coaching keepers.  We expect them to concentrate but may not work effectively to teach them how. 

In our camps we do a number of concentration drills almost all focused on never taking your eye off the ball.  This "SEEING THE BALL" to the point of seeing its rotation and seeing it even when the shooter hides it momentarily behind his helmet is one key to concentration.  One drill we do uses three goalies. One in net and one on either side of the net behind the crease. We tell all three to watch the ball, not the shooter, or each other; just the ball.  Then when working with the goalie in net, I will occasionally fire the ball at the behind keepers.  They begin to work on SEEING THE BALL all the time.

Most goals are made by moving the goalie out of good position, by interrupting his view of the ball (screens, etc.) or by otherwise distracting the goalie (most goals are not because the goalie was beaten on a shot that he or she could see or react to).  Goalies will distract themselves. For example, during warm-ups, some goalies will throw the ball back to the shooter (just like on a clear) and then look at the pipe to see where they are.  This means looking away from the ball. Getting the keeper to break this habit of looking away from the ball will improve concentration.

Similarly, some goalies scratch out the crease line in key places as markers for their position. But, to use them, they have to look down (away from the ball).  This built-in distraction for some goalies costs them saves.  A superior technique is to teach the goalie to pick out obvious features of the landscape around the field (one on left pipe, one on right pipe and one lined up with the other net).  As the game is played, these landmarks can be viewed without dropping the eyes and taking focus off the ball while maintaining good position in-between the pipes.

Weston Lacrosse 10-29-08