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Whether it’s a fast break, traffic on the crease, or making crisp outlets against aggressive rides, a goaltender needs to be ready for every type of game situation. In this week’s player development feature, Haverford coach Travis Loving breaks down three key drills that practice tough scenarios goaltenders often face in a game. In addition to reinforcing proper technique and fundamentals, these game-saving drills will have your players able to cover every angle.
We’ll begin by mocking a fast break in a game. The ball will come down to the middie, then move to the point guy, and then he would throw to the player nearest to the GLE. From here, this player will often throw a cross-crease pass to the backside player for a shot. This is the evolution of a typical fast break and a goaltender needs to be prepared to defend that GLE pass and shot.
First, it’s essential that the goalie “steps down the line.” So with his left foot, the goalie will step on the goalline and get across as quickly as possible. Remember, try not to go the long way (like an arc). Try to stay on the line. Also, when the goalie comes across, have them keep their stick in the ready position at all times. Often, goalies will dip down with the stick and come back up.
Meanwhile, when the ball is in tight, have the goalie move up and down with their body, so they don’t get out of position. To help with this movement, place your feet like a “V” and get them a little wider rather than right next to each other.
This fast break drill basically involves two offensive players and the goalie and mimics the cross-crease pass on the fast break near the GLE. Have your offensive players try shots high, low, bouncing, etc. Mix it up. Then switch sides with the passing/shooting.
The following drill practices those frequent situations when there’s a crowd in front of the goalie or a screen low and the goalie must look around these distractions as best as he/she can. Start by getting a player to set up right in front of the crease. Next, have another player or coach shoot from about 10-15 yards out.
In screen situations, it’s preferred that the goalie looks toward his off-stick-side as opposed to his stick-side. Remember, you’re more likely to get scored on this side. But keep in mind, depending on how the screens are set up, sometimes you may not have a choice. The best remedy is to practice for these situations and be ready for anything that comes your way.
Finally, it’s time to practice making crisp outlet passes with attackers in your face. Start out having a coach shoot on net. After each save, have the goalie immediately clear the ball to a teammate down the field with an opponent right in his face. Be sure to get your goalies to follow through on each outlet pass. This will also pave the way for potential interference calls on opposing attackmen and a free clear for your side.
The previous clips can all be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “High School Coaching Academy: Training the Lacrosse Goalie.” To check out more goalie-oriented videos, visit our lacrosse library today.
A major part of a goaltender’s success stems from the first step. Developing that initial step will enable you to get to balls quicker, develop better range, and ultimately contribute towards improved performances.
This week, North Carolina women’s lacrosse coach Phil Barnes reveals his top overall goaltending keys before leading you through effective stepping drills for warm-ups and practice. These easy-to-implement drills will train the stick and the feet to get to the seven defensive areas of the cage and go a long way towards developing overall goaltending skills.
1) Technique — Your number one priority as a goalie is to stop the ball. If a goalie has has good technique, they will be able to do that. Remember, there’s only so many movements to make, so the variables are not the same as a defender or attacker. In the end, technique is what will put a goalie over the top.
2) Hand-eye Coordination and Intelligence — If a goalie has above average hand-eye coordination, they can probably do everything you want them to do from a technique standpoint.
3) Mental Toughness — Goalies will see a lot of shots and the ball will go in. There is responsibility around this. If a goalie isn’t mentally tough, you may want to find a different one. You may end up working more on the mental side than the physical side of things.
We’re looking to improve that first step to the ball so you can get there quicker. The following stepping warm-up drills train the stick and feet to get to the seven defensive save areas. It also focuses on a quick and clean stick turnover.
There are tons of different theories on how you should lead warm-up drills for stepping. For Coach Barnes, it starts with the first step/lead step/attack step. The second step is something that occurs naturally. Therefore, our first concern is how quick is that first step to the ball. If the first step is slow, you will never get to the ball regardless of how quick you get your second step there.
7 Save Areas: High right, high left, middle right, middle left, low right, low left, and between the legs.
Stick Side Low – Players should assume ready positioning and then repeatedly make stick-side low movements using their first step. No saves or balls are used in these drills. Every fourth rep, have the players step with two steps (so they keep that habit of bringing the second foot).
Key: Look for quick and clean turnover here. Also, remember the stick and first step hit the ground at the same time.
Non-Stick Side Low — Put an emphasis on the stick and first step getting there at the same exact time. Notice players hold the save positioning for a few seconds so they can get that muscle memory in there (about three seconds). Mix up the reps every time you run this drill (anywhere between 6 and 20 reps).
Going High — Keep in mind that the first step is always the same for any save. Nothing changes.
Stick Side High — Concentrate on raising the stick up high. If you tilt the stick back, the ball may go over your stick.
Non-Stick Side High — Here, we’ll implement the “Windshield Wiper” technique. Using the wrists, arms, and shoulders, drive them all together. Keep the stick straight so you don’t lose your angle to the ball. On every fourth rep, continue to step with two feet.
Stick Side Mid — We’re using the exact same motion here as we do going for low saves. We’re looking for a complete stick turnover in order to translate to a low save technique.
Non Stick Side Mid – Don’t forget to keep that same distance between your chest and the stick.
Typically, this warm-up drill will go for five minutes. Look to go for about 8-15 reps, maybe 21 per practice. Remember, technique is what separates good keepers from average ones and you can fall back on it time and time again.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Progressive Skill Development Warm-Up for Goalies” featuring Phil Barnes. To check out more videos highlighting goalie skills and drills, click here.
Check out other Joe Bertagna, Hockey DVDs below:
This week’s player development feature highlights proper goalie positioning covering a variety of different situations. Former Towson head coach Tony Seaman breaks down key tips and techniques for goaltenders when the ball is behind the cage and being dodged from the side. Also, learn about how to “match sticks” and figure out player “tells” in order to stay one step ahead of the opposition.
The position of the goalie when the ball is behind the net is very important. Let’s start with footwork. When a player has the ball behind the goalie on the left, the goalie’s right leg should be in the middle of the goal. Meanwhile, his left leg should be facing towards the player with the ball.
Notice that the stick is not higher than the pipe. This says to the offense that if they want to pass the ball over the goalie, they can probably go ahead and try. However, the goalie has the ability to reach out and knock down any of those passes. We say, “try it”, but we’ll more than likely knock it down.
Next, if an offensive player looks to moves up field from behind the cage on the side, the goalie can also step to the pipe. At this position, a goaltender will be closer and taller in the pipe and won’t allow an offensive player to have the inside angle to shoot at. This also forces the opposition to go around and shoot around the goal. This is considered good pipe coverage.
As for the opposite side (to the right), the left foot should be in the middle of the goal with the right foot facing the offensive player. As that player drives, the goalie should step up and protect the pipe while facing the offensive player. One of the biggest rules for a goalie is to never give up the near pipe – AKA the space between the goalie and the pipe.
One area that isn’t practiced far enough with goalies is when players dodge from behind or pass the ball from behind. These are the situations when goalies must learn how to turn, follow, and pick up the shot. It’s typically one of the keys for most offenses you go against, so it’s important for you to work on this technique and skill. Remember, your body should also follow your hands.
Many goalies keep a rule of thumb in mind to match sticks. In other words, this means to match the plane of the ball. If one offensive player throws a pass out in front to another player, the area where the player catches the ball is probably the level where the ball is going to come from (off the shot).
With the ball down low, 90 percent of the time the shot is going to come from the hip or side arm or lower. The vast majority of shooters in the country will shoot low when they drop their sticks low. Therefore, the biggest thing for the goalie is to follow the plane of the ball and get the stick there.
When intercepting balls thrown from behind the goal, the goalie should be in a position to reach up and deflect or catch a pass. Keep that outside foot in the center of the goal and maintain proper positioning. Always be in ready position.
If a ball is thrown from up top to behind the goal and close to the cage, the goalie can come out and intercept the pass on the run. But beware of the fake pass, as that player will have an open look on net. Don’t get out there early. Leave once the ball has been thrown.
Good technique comes from practice and extra hours even away from the field. Just playing catch can have a major impact for a player — and it doesn’t even have to be with another goalie.
Each and every time you want to get a good step with the lead foot and nice follow through. Continue to pass and catch further apart and work on longer passes. Start with good, straight throws and then eventually move up to arcs and 35-40-yard passes that you can make with accuracy and control.
Meanwhile, when you don’t have someone to throw to, look for a wall. This gives you a chance to work on your skills by yourself. The wall never misses a pass and always throws it back. Remember to work on good technique of stepping towards the ball and stopping the ball. As a goaltender, it’s key to stop the ball, not necessarily catch the ball. We don’t want to turn the stick and cradle. Rather, we want to use as much of the face of the stick to stop the ball as possible.
Notice that the stick is always facing out toward the shot until the ball has hit the stick. Use good form to throw it back. Plus, a wall with an uneven surface really helps for catching and your overall reaction.
The above clips and techniques can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Becoming a Champion Lacrosse Player: The Goalie” with Tony Seaman. Check out more goalie-specific videos in our extensive lacrosse DVD library.