There are many misunderstandings when it comes to lacrosse goalies. Regardless, it is one of the most technoscientific positions on the lacrosse field.
Sadly, goalies often don’t get enough love, and many lacrosse players don’t know a lot about playing goalie.
Many things can come down to inclination in lacrosse, and plenty of things are particular and nuanced.
Given that playing goalie in lacrosse is about making a save no matter what, we’re here to break some goalie myths:
Lacrosse Goalies Aren’t Athletes
To start, this one will surely fire you up!
This may have been true more than 30 years ago, but today, the modern-day goalie is an elite level athlete. Look at some goalies like Scotty Rodgers or Brett Queener, and most top college lacrosse goalies; they’re in the peak of their physical condition.
Lacrosse goalies may not always be the healthiest person on the field. They may not have the most straight-line speed on the lacrosse field. But it is almost an assurance they excel in lateral quickness, hand-eye coordination, and explosiveness.
Any lacrosse goalies out there who believe you don’t need to be an athlete to be a great goalie needs to think again and hit the gym.
Step to the Ball
The days of stopping at a 45-degree angle approaching a shot in a 5 point arc are over.
Once players hit the high school level, they begin firing upwards of 80-90 MPH and even higher. With shots coming that quick, goalies require to take all the time they can get to respond to a shot. And that means stepping on a flatter, more lateral angle.
Stepping at a lateral angle using a 3 point gives you more time to react to the ball by being closer to the cage. This will take a few adjustments, as every new level will come at a quicker pace.
So the earlier goalies learn to step flatter, the faster you will see results.
Lacrosse Goalies Need Deep Pockets
Perhaps one of the biggest misunderstandings about lacrosse goalies is that you want a fishing net pocket on a goalie stick.
Lacrosse goalies usually have the gravest strung pockets on lacrosse fields. That’s because they are told that their stick doesn’t matter or to make the pocket deep. Very few people understand how to string a lacrosse goalie stick correctly, and even fewer people care.
As a lacrosse goalie, you have two tasks: Stop the ball and begin the offense.
Goalies are the last line of defense and the first line of offense simultaneously, and everything goes through them at some point.
Lacrosse coaches understand that clearing can make or break a game. But they are not sure that their goalie has a lacrosse stick that they can throw with and ruin their clear from the start.
With technical improvements in lacrosse mesh, stringing, and head design, goalies don’t require an overly deep pocket. There are excellent new meshes in the market, so much so that they can control rebounds even at 2-2.5 balls deep.
So anything over 3 lacrosse balls deep will be doing a wrong service to the goalie.
An uncomplicated channel on a slightly deep pocket will do any beginner lacrosse goalie fine. And putting a little elbow grease into improving your goalie’s clearing technique will go a long way.
The Player Closest to the Sideline Gets the Ball
When a loose ball goes outside of bounds, it is granted to the team with an inbounds player’s body closest to the ball.
In deciding which player is nearest, the ball is deemed out of bounds when it crosses the end line or sideline plane.
Note: For this rule’s objectives, the stick is not considered a part of the player’s body.
Possession is granted to the team who has an inbounds player’s body nearest to the ball WHERE it went out and WHEN it went out.
Every player still stretches out to the line or dives to play to obtain possession for his team.
This is a normal thing to do on the field. Even though the stick doesn’t count, the hand is a part of the body. And that could make all the difference on a close chase.
Wearing More Padding Means You Fear the Ball
If anybody ever says that you are “scared of the ball,” if you wear more padding than a chest protector, gloves, helmet, and cup, tell them to get in the cage and do it. Odds are, they will take a pass.
No one will enjoy being pelted with a solid rubber ball being hurled at, except for maybe one or two lunatics. But except those outliers, and no one wants a crease crank to their sternum.
So why should a lacrosse goalie be deterred from wearing what gives them the most courage?
From a young age, you should be comfortable with the bare minimum. But plenty of other incredible goalies who opt for padded shorts, a protector for their shin, or a random pad somewhere they’ve been injured before.
These pads relieved them mentally not to fear being hit by the ball in that specific place and react to it.
In our opinion, all youth goalies should be required to wear padded shorts and shin guards. This is on top of the other essential equipment until they are at a higher level of play.
It’s a pretty simple thought: The less you bug about being hurt by the ball, the more you can concentrate on making saves.
It’s also a much safer practice considering younger athletes’ bones and muscles are not fully developed. Teammates should support whatever gives their goalie(s) the most confidence, and if that means a little more padding, then more power to them.
You Don’t Need a Whip
This is frequently a hot topic of discussion amongst different styles of the coach. The more common technique is little or no whip, straight overhand shooting, etc.
Coaches have certainly been victorious with this. You can also see coaches encourage newer play styles that incorporate whip and more creative types of play.
Few enthusiast’s opinions are that with the talent of long poles and goalies in today’s game, a little bit of whip is required. Not to mention that “whip” is the same as “hold,” but they usually go hand in hand.
More whips will habitually add more hold to your stick so that the pole can’t easily take the ball. Additionally, more whip will unquestionably add velocity to your shot, enabling you to beat the talented goalies of today.
Start with no whip, and slowly add a little every time you restring a stick (you can always take it out if it’s too much). Continue adding until it is too much.
Players will most often realize that they can do things with a stick, especially in the shooting. Other players will have to sacrifice the more challenging shot to be able to serve perfectly and consistently.
The Bounce Shot is the Best Shot
This will surely make you cringe.
Yes, in youth lacrosse, a bounce shot is difficult for a goalkeeper to stop, and it is and always will be the most powerful shot in the game. Also, a well put high bouncer is nearly impossible to stop at any level.
However, as Salisbury coach Jim Berkman showed at the US Lacrosse Convention several years ago, shooting for the open net and the air is more important.
“In the air” does not indicate “high,” but rather that the ball catches the net before it hits the ground. A bounce shot is unpredictable, particularly on grass, and it also gives the goalie thin extra fractions of a second to stop the ball.
Coach your players to see the net, hit the net. Look for an open spot on the goal and shoot the ball there (ideally switching the plane) instead of trying to trick the goalie with a bounce shot.
Once the idea of hitting the open spot is unconsciously instilled, you can work on how to bounce it there – adding to your shooting repertoire.
Playing One-handed or With Both Hands
We’re not sure which one is worse: The belief that you won’t survive with your dominant hand alone or that you can survive without your off-hand.
The introduction of indoor players to the field game has confirmed that it is possible and beneficial to play one-handed with the right upbringing and lax education. But it would be not very smart to teach our mini-laxers that they should only play one-handed.
On the other hand, there is no right answer when they ask, “how come he only plays with his right hand?”
Even the good two-handed players are taught to try and get to their dominant hand. Ultimately, pay attention to what a player is capable of.
If the player is athletic enough to use his dominant hand, let him – but also tell him that it would be helpful to use his off-hand as well. Again, building the repertoire.
Sticking Your Worst Athlete Between the Pipes
Coaches will frequently take the slowest kid and make him the goalie.
If you try to consider the higher levels of the game, goalies are not just good athletes but often are some of the best athletes on the team, if not the best.
When you think about what it needs to be a good goalie, it’s no surprise. So why at a young age would you treat the position otherwise?
It’s a risk or reward decision at the youth level. Sometimes it demands taking one of your better players from the field and giving him the big stick.
But if he stops everything that comes at him, it will most likely be worth it. Also worth acknowledging is which kid is prepared to sacrifice his body every day.
Box Lacrosse Doesn’t Help
Canadians are showing the value of the indoor game and how it alters to the field. This includes stick protection, shooting accuracy, poise in tight places, and creativity.
Every player coming up should find time in the offseason to perform in a box league.
The benefits are shown, and what’s the downside? Players will be picking up their stick (which is sometimes a challenge), while defenders will develop their lacking stick skills.
Find a real “box” league in your area. Many offseason leagues have relocated inside to facilities with smaller fields but play on the turf with real-sized goals.
Make sure the league plays box rules, no long poles, etc. The enhanced skills of your players will make the investment worth it.
Lacrosse is the Fastest Sport on Two Feet
This is not just a myth. It gives a false sense of security, either.
With the slow pace and overcoaching of today’s lacrosse powerhouses, those friends of yours will lose interest when watching on TV.
It is one point for them to be frustrated when the game moves so fast that they don’t get it. That’s what lax players used to pride themselves on.
But now, people ask why they are just passing the ball in a circle. And why on earth would you delay in the 1st quarter?
Understand the formula for winning, which sometimes involves a slower pace, but the sport is in danger of losing its charm if it doesn’t keep its pace.
Pace alone is what has brought so many newcomers to the sport.
Where did the baseball vs. lacrosse rivalry come from? From football players who decided on a fast, hard-hitting spring activity rather than baseball’s slow pace.
The day lacrosse is pleased with its headline as “the fastest” is the day it loses its growth potential.
Clamping the Ball Outside of the Crease
There is a loose ball in front of the crease. The goalkeeper reaches out to pick up the ball, and the opponent checks the goalkeeper’s crosse.
This is legal, and it means that the goalkeeper does not have possession of the ball.
Possession requires one of four things:
Clamping is not possession, and the opponent may legally hold the goalkeeper’s crosse. It doesn’t matter even if the goalkeeper’s body is in the crease, and he does not have the ball.
Scoring During a Flag Down
For example, A1 gets a shot from midfield. B2 illegally stops A2, and the ball penetrates the goal.
RULING: Moderate whistle, goal counts.
B2’s violation, if technical, is wiped out. If personal foul, B2 serves penalty time. Faceoff!
Live-ball personal fouls (slashes, trips, illegal body checks, etc.) are always served, even if a goal is scored during the flag down. That’s because these penalties are about safety, and a goal shouldn’t wipe out a violent slash or an unnecessary hit away from the ball.
Live-ball technical fouls are wiped out if a goal is scored during the flag down because technical fouls are about an advantage.
A hold isn’t a safety issue, and if the offended team scores, they smartly take advantage of their free play, and the penalty is wiped off.
Bonus Myth: Quint Kessenich is Secretly Not Jason Bateman
You’ve presumably been informed by older lacrosse players, or some lacrosse coach of yours, that Quint Kessenich isn’t Jason Bateman.
Some person has likely tried to persuade you that they’re two individual people who live independent lives that aren’t correlated to each other. This is a myth, and the two are constructed of the same DNA extracted from Quint.
The latter was recreated as Bateman 5 months later with a typical nine-month gestation period.
While it is true that they utilize two physical “beings,” this is more or less a looper circumstance. Meaning, two similar beings exist on the same timeline.
No one ever sees Quint or Jason in the same place, yet the two were “born” a mere 30 miles apart.
You could also compare this to a Hancock type of relationship. This occurs when two beings must keep a buffer between them to maintain their specific strength or skill.
There’s mutual respect’s survival among the two slightly-over 50-year-old men to not interfere with the other’s existence. For now, the two stay in their respective on-camera professional fields and don’t join in similar social circles.
This is simply a symbiotic relationship of distance for the protection of their ruse. But it’s a fact that they are the same “person” when you use biological analysis.
Applying the debate against defenseless and blindside hits in lacrosse to this situation exposes the error.
A player on the field is not godlike, as this argument implies. Do everything right, and you can still be blindsided. And with what we learn every year about injuries and the dangers of defenseless or blindside hits.