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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.
Learn from one of the lacrosse’s most renowned goaltenders as two-time NCAA Champion and former All-American Trevor Tierney dishes out tips, techniques, and drills surrounding proper goalie positioning. After discussing essential goaltending strategies, Tierney shows off an effective warm-up focusing on proper positioning that you can easily implement into your own practice plan.
During his college playing days, Tierney was known for being “back” in the goal along the goal line. This gave him the time needed to react to the ball. Today, many coaches believe you should be way out on an arc and playing the angle. But according to Tierney, that applies better for hockey goalies (who have lots of padding and play with smaller goals).
It’s easy for hockey goalies to come out and take that angle. Plus, they know where the puck is on the surface. But lacrosse shooters can change where their stick is positioned at any time. The release point can come from anywhere, so angles become less of a factor for lacrosse goalies.
Setting yourself back in the goal gives you the time and room to see the ball and make a quick reaction. And when it comes to reaction time, the difference between a yard or two is huge. Tierney likes to put his heels nearly on the goal line. This is called the “Flat Arc.”
Positioning becomes key for squaring up to the shooter. Many coaches teach you to play on an arc, moving your feet side to side in a small arc in front of the goal. While that’s perfectly fine, Tierney teaches goalies to be square to the shooter. Pretend you have two lines coming out of your shoulders and they are making a target to the shooter. That shooter should always be between those two lines and the goalie.
You’ll often notice that when a shooter moves from side-to-side up top, goalies will move all the way across the goal and their feet will be all the way on the pipe. Tierney prefers to teach goalies to stay in the middle of the goal.
Shooters like to shoot across their body and across your body, so if a dodger is sweeping top left to top right, bring your left foot up and stay in the middle of the goal. Few shooters can find the back of the net from that area. Meanwhile, you’ll be there to make the save easily. Plus, you don’t even have to step very far. It should also force shooters to miss the cage a lot because they think they see some open space to the side.
As a player comes further and further down the left side, look to slowly make your way over to the pipe with short steps, and bring the outside of the left foot to the inside of the pipe. This will take away that pipe area shot or any easy goals to the inside.
The same rules apply for the opposite side as well, with the right foot staying to the outside of the pipe. You should be able to get around the entire goal in very few steps — always remaining in a good position.
Meanwhile, with inside shots, the further back in the goal you are, the easier it can be for you. If you step out too far, good players will fake and shoot it around you. But if you stay home, you can make it harder on them. The closer players come to the crease area, the further back in the net you want to be.
When the ball is behind the net and to the side, keep your body forward and look behind. If the ball is directly behind you, that’s when you can turn around and face the feeder. But if it’s to the side, look behind and over your shoulder. If the feeder makes a good pass out in front, you’ll still be in good position to react and make the save.
Finally, let’s walk through different goalie positions based on where a shooter may be on the field. In this drill, the camera provides the vantage point of the shooter. You’ll also get to see how a goalie should move and adjust based on the shooter’s movements and shifts. The action starts with the top middle, gets lower and lower, and then arcs back around to the other side.
The previous clips can be seen on the DVD “Evolution in Goaltending: A New Perspective on Goalie Fundamentals” offered by Championship Productions. You can also check out more goaltending videos by visiting our lacrosse library.
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: