As the goalie in lacrosse, you can receive all the glory for your performance, or feel like you single-handedly lost the game for your team. Often times, new lacrosse goalies can feel afraid of the ball. These are both natural occurrences that come with the position. Learning how to take on this tough role and doing it well, can be arguably the most important factor to a winning team. If you want to be a successful lacrosse goalie, here are a few great starting points.
Have the Proper Equipment
Getting fully protected can be a key component of feeling comfortable between the posts. Make sure you have all the proper, quality equipment as a goalie. Spend a little extra money on the best helmet, make sure you buy shin guards, a cup, thigh pads, and a good chest protector. You have to be ready to stop a rubber ball coming at you with immense speed. One of the most important pieces a goalie can have is good gloves. Make sure you have the proper gloves with a thumb protector built in. Proper protection can help new goalies feel less afraid of the ball and keep veteran goalies on the field.
Being a goalie, you should be the most explosive person on the field. So, train that way! Build up your core strength, and work on your flexibility. If your muscles are too tight, they will not be able to contract, and you will be less explosive. Also, the better shape you are in, the better control you have over your body. Having control over your body is crucial to stopping a screaming shot from just outside the crease. Take pride in everything you do as a goalie and show your team how athletic you are when you make highlight reel saves with your explosive movements and quick reactions.
Know the Fundamentals
No matter how athletic you are, if you do not know the basics of being a goalie, you might let “easy saves” go right by even if you are making highlight level saves all game. This starts by having good stick skills. With this, make sure you have the perfect stick for you. The pocket should be the right depth for your comfort, and the stick the length you prefer. One rule of thumb for goalie stick length is this:
- First, start with your hand just under the head of your lacrosse stick.
- Then drop your hand down to your hip.
- And finally, the butt at the end of the stick should come up right above your shoulder.
Once you have the proper stick and have worked on your stick skills, know the proper footwork and positioning. A basic, fundamentally sound shot sequence should go as followed:
- Square up with the ball at all times before the shot is taken.
- Stay focused, and in a balance and athletic position ready for a quick shot at all times.
- Once the shot is released, move your top hand to the ball.
- Take a step with your lead foot towards the path of the ball.
- Move your bottom hand to finish in a good balanced position.
- Trail step should follow to balance yourself and ready yourself for the pass after the save.
Working on these basic steps to making a routine save can make sure you let no “easy saves” go by. And just working on repetition will make this second nature so once you have the basics down on top of your athletic base, you will be ready to stop everything. Don’t let the fundamentals of the game prevent you from being a successful lacrosse goalie.
Be a Defensive Captain
Not only should you know your defense inside and out, but you also need to be the most vocal one on the field. As the goalie, you can always see the ball and the positioning of everyone on the field. You need to make sure your team is where they are supposed to be at all times. If your defense breaks down and you see what happened, don’t be afraid to tell them what went wrong. You can only do this, once you are fluent in the defensive strategy.
If you have any confusion, or anything is unclear about the game plan, make sure you speak with your coach. The goalie should be the #1 student of the coach. A successful lacrosse goalie will reach out to the coach to let them know what they see on the field. Tell your coach what is working, or where your defense keeps getting broken down so they can fix the problem. When doing this, make sure you are staying respectful and being a good leader on the field.
Earn Your Team’s Respect
One last step to being a successful lacrosse goalie is earning your team’s respect. Like we said, goalies can be praised one game, and blamed the next. So, when it is your time to be interviewed and praised post-game after your incredible performance, remember why you were able to make those saves. If your defense did not execute the game plan, harder shots would come at you. Suppose your offense did not score, you could not win. If your coach didn’t create a great game plan, or develop your skills, you would not be in this situation. Earning your team’s respect on and off the field will make them listen to you during the game.
Being a great defensive captain on the field is easy when your defense and coach trusts you. Then you just have to rely on your eyes, and voice to communicate what is needed to your team. Focus on being prepared physically and mentally between the posts, and you will put your team in a winning situation.
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