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.
In this week’s defensive drill of the week, Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala highlights the highly effective Goal-line Drill. Using cones, the goal is to practice maintaining proper technique regarding how to stop offensive players from beating you when playing behind the net. The cones will indicate which area of the field you don’t want offensive players to get above or beyond.
Follow along as Coach Pietramala reveals step-by-step how exactly to implement the proper techniques, movements and strategies. This drill is critical to developing defenders at every level and is an effective method the head coach uses with his team on a frequent basis.
Using the video as a guideline, note how the cones are situated around the goal area. These cones indicate the areas of the field that defenders do not want offensive players to get above or beyond. The cones don’t go any higher than three yards above the goal line and they have a noticeable arc while tapering to the sideline. This is exactly the pattern we want to follow when we are approaching the GLE and locking up with an offensive player to drive them away from the goal.
The two cones nearest to the GLE are helping us teach the defender the proper angle they want to take to beat an offensive player to his spot. Also it’s key to remember that the crease is our friend. An offensive player must make an arc around it. That arc is exactly how we want to turn our body and have it facing the corner of the field. It’s similar to a gate. It’s either open or closed. With these cones, it teaches players how to close the gate. And by following the outline of the cones, it forces your body to adjust and turn so that you’re no longer facing the sideline and you’re now facing the corner of the field with your top foot forward.
In terms of player movement here, we want to “swing the gate closed.” In other words, swing the hips around and follow the cones and drive the offensive player away from the goal. This is why the cones go away from the goal.
You’ll frequently hear the terms “Plant”, “Drop” and “Squeeze” used with this drill. It’s important that players remember these terms so they can get the key points ingrained in their head. Here in the drill, we want to plant our outside foot, drop-step down the line to handle the first move, and then squeeze the opposing player behind the goal.
Goal Line Drill Full Speed
Now, watch as the drill is conducted at full speed. Players will begin well behind the goal before making their way to one side of the net based on the coach’s instructions. Once there, the player will plant his outside foot and yell “plant.” Then, he’ll drop his outside foot and yell “drop.” Next, he’ll squeeze and ride the offensive player away from the net by following the cone footprint. Remember, when squeezing, it’s important to be a half-foot behind the offensive player so they can’t roll back toward the goal. From there, players should follow the footprint on the opposite side of the net.
To following clips can be seen in their entirety on the Championship Productions’ DVD “Developing On-Ball Defenders Behind the Net” with Dave Pietramala. Check out additional defensive videos featuring Coach Pietramala and other top coaches in our extensive catalog.
In this week’s lacrosse player development feature, we’ll focus on specific defensive techniques and strategies when defending against shots on goal. With Virginia head coach Dom Starsia leading the way, you’ll learn about proper stance and technique before getting an understanding of key strategies to help you be successful in these frequent defensive situations. Coach Starsia dishes the same advice to youth players and college athletes alike, so see how many tips you can pick up and implement with your team on the lacrosse field this season.
During 1-on-1 play when defending against shots on goal, the goal for the defender is to create unsettled situations. Unfortunately, with their back to the goal, they have a natural disadvantage. Meanwhile, an attackman knows exactly where he’s going, so the defender must react to that. Therefore, it’s crucial that defensemen have an opportunity to make up for those disadvantages. Here’s how they can close the gap.
First, it’s critical that a defender is always maintaining proper stance. His feet should be shoulder-width apart, knees are bent and one foot should drop back a little bit behind the other. In other words, players should be in a drop-step mode, which will give them some ground they can make up.
Also, defenders should remain low, never up high or straight up. Remember, you almost can’t be too low. Staying low gives you the chance to change direction and drop step quickly in order to gain an advantage.
Meanwhile, keep the head of the stick pointed at the offensive player. The distance between the head of the stick and your body is called the cushion. This is the margin of error in this situation. With that cushion, a defender has the chance to regain territory and gain an advantage.
With this technique, once an offensive player makes his move, the defender should poke him with his stick and then drop step. Also, it’s important to remember when approaching the goal line extended that the onus is on the defender to get above the GLE about 2-3 yards – and get there before his man does. Here, the defender must get his hands on the offensive player and ride him out and away from the goal. Defenders should not shy away from contact. Get your hands on your opponent and push him into a position where he can’t attack the goal or score.
In the situation where you get beat, try to get your stick on the inside of your opponent. If a player starts to shoot, you can still put your stick in a position to prevent the shot or deflect it. Remember to make contact below the GLE. If the offensive player gets there first, he has a major advantage on the defender.
The follow segments can be seen in their entirety on the Championship Productions’ DVD “Developing the Dominating Individual Defender” with Dom Starsia. Check out more defense-oriented videos in our extensive catalog by clicking here.
The “General Drill” is one of Lars Tiffany’s favorite drills to run at Brown University. Not only is it effective from an offensive and defensive perspective, but it particularly emphasizes the movement of going off-ball to on-ball in a short period of time.
The drill starts out with one defender and one midfielder and then later adds an attackman at the crease area. Below, check out the locker room discussion with Tiffany followed by step-by-step simulations on the turf and see how you can incorporate the drill into your next practice.
General Drill – Overview
The drill starts with one coach standing about 5-10 yards to one side of the cage, with the role of feeder. Next, there’s one defender who starts right on the crease, plus one midfielder situated about 13-14 yards away from the cage up top. Coach Tiffany often gives rules for his defenders as to where they can stand to begin the drill, but often they will start with one foot touching the top of the crease. Figure out what works for you to get down the timing of the drill.
The drill begins with the coach throwing the ball to the midfielder up top. The defender can’t move until the pass is thrown. Once the pass is made, the defender then drop steps, turns, sprints and approaches the midfielder for a defensive breakdown.
According to Tiffany, this is a perfect drill to practice man-down because it’s replicating something that happens all the time in man-down situations. This is when the defense needs to suck into the crease, take care of the offensive players closing in, and they need to know how quickly they can get out there and not give up an easy shot.
Remember, it’s key for players to get down into a good defensive stance, with the butt low and knees bent. Once the defender approaches his man, the offensive player now must make a decision. That player must decide whether he has to dodge to get a shot on goal or just fire a shot immediately on cage. As for the defender, it’s about how fast you can get out there, not turn away and duck your head, contest a shot and ultimately prevent an easy scoring opportunity.
Adding an Attackman
A second step to the General Drill is to add an attackman around the crease area. Now, the coach can either throw to the midfielder up top or to the attackman right in front. This is a way to keep defenders honest and is much more like man-down defense.
The first goal for the defender must be to take care of the crease first and then worry about an outside shot. The same principles from before will apply once again. Remember to open up, drop step, turn and then break down the offensive player. Meanwhile, look to knock down any skip passes as well, which is certainly a skill that a Division I program like Brown looks for in its defenders.
Meanwhile, check out a recent Coaches Corner Q&A with Coach TIffany from January which also highlights the General Drill.