How do you judge goalie's play?

Over ten years ago, it occurred to me that it is very hard to a) determine if a goalie has had a good or bad day in a win or a loss and b) understand some statistics that can be used to help them improve or expand their contribution.  Over more than a decade I have been using a plus/minus (+/-) rating that really works.  It goes like this.

Award positive points for good plays:

+ 1 for a stuff (as save in close or one that you don't expect him to make)

+ 1 for starting a fast break that results in a uneven number on the other end

+ 1/2 for a ground ball, pickoff, run-out or save of a wide shot

+ 5 for 20 saves in a game

Award minus points for poor plays:                                    

-1 for missing a shot he should save (one that goes in)

-1 for a blown clear (thrown to the opposition or so poorly that they get it)

-1/2 for a turnover (goalie loses the ball, or steps back into the crease, etc.)

Add these up for the whole game and you will generally find;

Any minus score for the whole game and the goalie had a bad day

Any positive score is an ok day

 + 5 is a good day

>+5 the goalie was an impact player and probably led the victory.

Save percentage (saves divided by goals + saves) is another good indicator, but may mask some contributions that plus/minus covers since plus/minus rewards getting the ball back and getting it to the offense too.  Save percentage of less that 50% is usually not good and over 70% is very very good. 


There are some other things to track, that are simple and help in understanding 'misses'.  Most misses result from not being ready or watching something other than the ball, like the player or the defense.  The third big contributor to misses is waiting on the ball instead of stepping toward the shot. These three account for over 90% of goals. It is hard to tell from the sideline sometimes if the keeper is watching the ball, but it is easy to see if he/she is in their ready position and if he/she steps to the shot.  Charting these can really help in understanding what needs to be worked on.


If you don't have the luxury of a live "goalie stats" person, then film the game with the camera on your goalie - just let it run and then you can count up the plus/minus the "ready's" and "go's" later.  A high school or college keeper should be ready on 18/19 of every 20 shots and should "go" on a very high percentage (80% or so). 

With the video and your numbers you have something to go over with your keeper

+ / - rating

"ready" and "go" percentage

"save" percentage

I suggest that you watch the video with your keeper every couple of games reviewing good plays and misses and see if the keeper was 'ready' and 'went' on all shots, especially goals.  If he/she is ready and going then ball focus is where you need to work for his/her improvement.  If those things are good then it is possible a technique weakness needs to be addressed, but make sure that "watch", "ready" and "go" are done on every shot and your keeper will be productive.

Copyright Weston Lacrosse 2014