A thorough lacrosse goalie practice plan is built on systems that rise above the team’s current state or the goalie’s performance. It doesn’t signify if the goalie had a good game or a bad game recently. The routine today needs to be business as usual.
The practice plan demands to be built on the subject of predictability. By keeping the method in place, goalies can generate a level of comfort and familiarity.
The practice plan is where the goalie develops their mind and body to take live-action shots in the pipes. It is a time to get away from the confusion of their day and concentrate on their game.
It should be a guarded time. And also a time that is a priority for every lacrosse coach out there. They should have the concentration of a dedicated shooter and the chance to spend regular time honing their craft.
Time is vital for a goalie. It doesn’t matter whether it’s time with the team, alone time, or one-on-one time with a coach.
It is a very mentally intense position, and it takes a lot of time to find the right zone. That is the purpose of a lax goalie practice plan. It is constant and simple.
It is a place where coaches and goalie meet for a time of repetitive and essential work.
Building Muscle Memory
Building muscle memory is the solution, not the save percentage or speed of the shot. Routine is the secret.
It will need thousands of shots for the fundamental movements and responses to become regressive for a goalie.
The before practice and before a game method should look very similar. As the old saying goes, we play the way we train.
Before a lax goalie warmup begins, dynamic stretching should take place. This involves jogging, high stepping, hip stretches, lunges, and others.
These drills get the blood running and are an excellent chance to focus the mind on the task ahead. Take a run around half of the field. Accomplish the dynamic stretches from Goal Line Extended (GLE) to the end line of the field.
Throwing Long Passes
Just before jumping into the net, you should be doing longer passes with a teammate or coach. This is to warm you up and the stick, throwing arm, and eyes.
Practice rolling out from left to right, just like what you’re doing on a real game.
This will surely warm up your feet, eyes, and shoulders.
Warming Up in the Net
Predictable repetition should be the mindset at the start of a lacrosse goalie warmup session. The aim is never to shoot as hard as possible.
The shooter can start as just quicker than the passes and pick up the speed as time goes on, but at the beginning, the focus is to practice the moves.
Remember, this session is for the goalie, not for the shooter!
Begin with high shots to the top-right, top-center, and top-left. The goalie should be moving toward every shot with their body and following up with the trail foot.
If a save was made, the stick should always be square with the body. So if a shot should happen to miss the stick, it can be saved by the body.
The goalie should concentrate while keeping an eye on the ball into their stick and making a good pass back to the shooter.
After 20-25 shots to the upper range, switch to the right and hip-left shots.
An off-hip shot keeps the arms away from the body while bringing the stick across when meeting the shot. This positioning also gives the goalie cushion to the shot and makes a clean save without a rebound.
When making an off-hip save, the stick should be vertical to the ground, out and away from the body.
After a 20-25 hip area shots, move to save low shots. Goalies tend to lean for these shots. Coach the goalie to bend their knees to meet the ball square.
Next comes the bounce shots. It is crucial for lax goalies always to step out and engage the shot at the time of contact with the ground.
The head of the stick should be clamped securely to the turf. Once the ball is caught, they are to secure the ball and pass back to the coach.
When the ball is free on the crease area, treat it like a game-time situation.
Imagine a group of attackmen trying to scoop it up and trying to make a garbage goal. Clamp the ball, box out with your body, and draw the ball to a safe place inside the crease.
Get the ball up and begin looking downfield for the outlet pass.
After each section has been warmed up, it is time to pick up the shots’ pace and speed.
Shots should be taken from all sections of the arc, not just squared up shots from the center of the cage. Run the angles and pipes so goalies can be used to facing shots and placing their bodies to cover up the maximum amount of net.
The shooter should run to the arc, challenging the goalie to move in the goal. All while staying centered between the pipes from the shooter’s perspective.
After the extensive warmup, it is an excellent time to move into some shooter-goalie drills. The first is called the “Shot-Turn.”
This is a simple drill that should be done every day. The goalie begins with the goal, standing ready in their stance, looking through the back of the net with their back facing the shooter.
The shooter should yell, “SHOT!” right before the shooters deliver their shot. At this command, the goalie should turn around and catch the shot.
The following drill requires two shooters. This is also a better way to put lame or sick players to work. The primary purpose of this is to get the goalie moving from pipe-to-pipe to the goal.
The two shooters stand at approximately 10:00 and 2:00 and pass the ball back and forth.
As they start passing, the goalie must move through their arc and center themselves to the ball’s new position.
Random shots are taken to make sure that the goalie performs with full honesty.
Shooters should also move around, enabling the goalie to adjust to shots from various places and angles.
If you’re doing a drill that’s incredibly tough on goalies like one-on-one’s or a lot of inside shots, I recommend you use tennis balls.
Tennis balls don’t hurt like lacrosse balls, and it can keep the goalie training fun.
Since tennis balls don’t weigh as much as lacrosse balls, the goalies will have to work on having soft hands. This is to keep the ball in their stick and avoid yielding on rebounds.
Mix With the Team
Bringing a goalie into team shooting drills is a terrible thing.
Fortunately, most lacrosse coaches have seen the adverse effects on a goalie’s mindset, health, and spirit.
It is necessary to incorporate a goalie in team shooting drills; it just must be done smartly.
Systematic shooting drills that include members of the offense and defense are an excellent thing for a goalie.
It grants them the chance to face shots and command a defensive player on their positioning. This tension creates more realistic and game-like situations that help a goalie to progress.
1v1, 2v2, 3v2, 3v3 are all excellent shooting drills to work in goalies. Encourage the offense to move the ball immediately and the defense to counter as quickly as they can.
Lacrosse goalies do require special training due to the uniqueness of this position.
But rather than taking the goalies off to goalie island every time the team begins the line drills, consider working them in once in a while.
Goalies require good stick skills. Meanwhile, the change will break up the goalie island’s boredom to ensure that he is having fun while improving his game.
Do Realistic Shooting Drills
Coaches should encourage their goalies to be put in the line of fire for a realistic situation.
Having the entire team lined up around the 8-yard mark, ripping time, and room shots at the goalie one at a time won’t make it as realistic as it should be. That only happens on 1% of shots in the game, which makes it unrealistic.
Goalies should be facing shots during drills in practice 100%. However, if you are going to face shots, it should be very realistic.
If you’re trying to do a shooting drill with no defense, put a cone on the ground. The cones represent the offensive players, and they must shoot before it. With that method, middies and attackmen don’t crank silly shots at the keeper.
Alternatively, if the drill’s idea is to develop shooting skills, consider having the goalies do a workout on their own.
You can purchase a goal target to connect to the lacrosse goal in shooting drills so players can train to hit the right zones.
Avoiding unrealistic situations will help the goalie maintain an excellent stance during practice.
Encourage Them to Get Protected
Lacrosse goalies don’t wear enough pads. Maybe it’s because of the culture, mechanism, tradition, or peer pressure; there is no exact reason. But goalies are always getting beat up, especially during practice.
On some other excuse, they keep on telling that they can’t move quickly with pads on. The same goes for professional swimmers, they can’t swim as fast as they can with board shorts or drag suits, but that doesn’t mean they don’t train with them.
Football pants don’t seem to restrict the speed that much anyway.
When the safeguard rules come from the coach, the youth goalie has no option but to get protected.
If they want to take the goalie pants and shin guards out for the game, go ahead. But during practices where goalies can take a beating, these extra paddings will make things safer and a lot more fun. It also eliminates the fear of the shot so they can concentrate on making saves.
If you were a coach, you could help them by promoting a culture of goalies getting protected. Regardless, give the youth goalie some leap for wanting to use extra padding. That’s because that’s where a good coach might need to step in and guarantee it doesn’t happen.
Give Your Goalie the Utmost Respect
Playing as a goalie in the sport of lacrosse takes a lot of hard work. It takes guts, and in conclusion, every team should give a significant level of respect to their keepers, even when they play bad.
That’s why lacrosse has the custom of welcoming the goalie first after a game or securing that goalies go early in the post-game handshake line.
This level of great respect begins with the coach. If the other team players see the coach respecting the goalie, it will compel the former to do the same.
This also indicates that you’re not publicly shaming the goalie on missed saves. A quick one-on-one discussion can still get your point across and enable the goalie to save face.
During practice, thinking of ways to give the goalies great respect for the beating they take during drills becomes a little more bearable.
What if I Don’t Have a Lacrosse Goalie Coach?
Lacrosse is the fastest-growing game in the USA, and it’s quickly growing across the globe, yet still, there is a lack of lacrosse goalie coaches.
If there isn’t a goalie coach on your team, then that’s not an excuse. You just need to take control of your position and your training.
Make sure that you interact with the head coach about what you need to succeed.
Most field players indeed have NO IDEA on how to train a goalie. They do, however, know how essential a strong goalie can be for a team.
Get the Right Goalie Mentality
If it seems a goalie isn’t having any fun at the end of the day, then this position might not be for them.
It takes a unique personality to succeed as a lacrosse goalie. It’s common to think that a lacrosse goalie has a screw loose.
Courage is a must, and you have to realize that bruises are a part of this game.
If you’ve completed all the procedures for this post and you’re still not having any fun, try to consider switching positions.
Lacrosse is a great sport, and it’s good to have a coach who is curious about how he can make practice plans more fun for the goalies.
By making practice fun for goalies, coaches always ensure that they’ll continue with the sport and get better at their craft.
You will take a beating for some days, but most times, you should be enjoying the position and this beautiful game. After all, if a goalie is still not having fun during training, perhaps they’re not meant to be a lacrosse goalie.