17 Tips from College Lacrosse Goalies: Takeaways from the Virtual Coaching Sessions
This season I signed 17 college lacrosse goalies to a sponsorship deal.
But before I tell you about that, let’s back up a bit because it actually all started year in the 2021 season.
In 2021, the NCAA allowed college athletes to accept sponsorships, a complete game changer!
As a lacrosse goalie coach, small business owner, and general lacrosse goalie aficionado, I went out and immediately sponsored 7 goalies.
When I asked the college goalies if I could sponsor them, they all said the same thing: Yes!!!! Wait, what does that even mean tho?
We put our heads together and came up with the College Goalie Training Packs.
It”s virtual coaching and mentoring for youth goalies from the best college goalies in lacrosse – men’s and women’s.
And it’s amazing. These college athletes love coaching up the next generation of youth goalies. And they’re not only amazing goalies, they’re amazing coaches and human beings!
So as the 2023 season approached I knew this was a project I wanted to continue. Only much bigger this time.
8 male goalies and 9 female goalies have signed to Team Lax Goalie Rat and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the team!
Each goalie created a College Goalie Training Pack which consists of 5 things:
- Virtual Coaching Session
- Instructional Video Series
- Save Breakdown
- Live Q&A
- Access to DM goalie questions
We just wrapped up all of the virtual coaching sessions and in this post I want to share 1 takeaway from each goalie’s presentation.
Each coaching session was loading with awesome tips so it was a difficult task to select just 1 takeaway. But I will attempt the difficult.
Highly recommend you pickup a copy of the College Goalie Training Packs. Amazing investment in your young goalie plus, as I mentioned, proceeds go directly to support these college guys and gals.
Here is the full list of virtual coaching sessions we did (click to jump right to one):
Regan Alexander – Communication & Leading the Huddle
Ohio State goalie Regan Alexander gave her coaching session on defensive communication.
She also broke exactly what happens in the “post goal huddle” between her the defense. And to answer a question asked during the session: yes, your defense should huddle after every goal given up!
This post huddle interaction was the main takeaway for me during this session. Many young goalies don’t know what to say during the huddle to take the lead of the D. Regan broke it down.
Here’s one idea: identify the patterns or simply discuss how that goal happened.
“Ok, she drove from GLE and then passed it up top for a dodge and shot”.
Just talking through the play and identifying patterns is one element (of many) that Regan uses in her post goal huddle communication.
Get the Regan Alexander College Goalie Training Pack here.
Matt Nunes – The Perfect Warmup
Luckily for me, I always had lacrosse coaches who understood the importance of a good goalie warmup.
But that is not the case for everyone and several goalies who attended Matt Nunes virtual coaching session live where very vocal that their warmup needs to be improved.
The 2nd year Virginia goalie went through his entire warmup as an NCAA D1 goalie. He also shared tips for getting a good warmup in emergency situations, as the 2nd half goalies, and at tournaments.
My main takeaway from Matt Nunes’ presentation was this slide right here:
He went through his entire pre-game warmup routine that he uses and why he likes each item. Amazing stuff.
Click here to get the Matt Nunes College Goalie Training Pack.
Kimber Hower – How to Find your Most Efficient Arc
Arc play and being in the right position is one of the basic elements that goalies need to learn and in this presentation Syracuse goalie Kimber Hower broke it down.
She broke different arcs and the benefits of each one and why you would want to use each.
One takeaway for me was a specific technique she uses for her arc when a ball carrier is driving from X (or behind GLE).
She plays a normal 5 step arc but in analyzing video she found when a girl drove from behind GLE she constantly out of position. The spot on the pipe gave up too much far side and the 45 degree spot on the arc gave up too much near side.
So she implemented another ½ step into the arc represented below with the white O:
This allowed her to be in better position to defend those shots.
Not related to lacrosse but I also learned that people that grow up in Utah (like Kimber) are Denver Broncos fans since that is the closest NFL team.
There was also a great answer from Kimber from another goalie from Utah wondering how to get looks and college coaches attention being from a non hotbed.
Get the Kimber Hower College Goalie Training Pack here.
Shane Carr – How to Mentally Prepare for a Game
The mental game is a key aspect to be a successful lacrosse goalie. In this session, Michigan goalie Shane Carr went through a ton of different lessons and tips on how to prepare mentally for a game.
While Matt Nunes presentation was focused on how to physically prepare (i.e. your warmup), this one looked at the mental side.
The main takeaway for me was this – everything you do in the week leading up the game can effect you mentally for that game.
How many goalies goof off or slack off during the week and then frantically try to turn everything on when it comes game day.
That’s not the way it works and Shane actually went through everything that goes into his week leading up to a game so that when the Wolverines are in the locker room waiting to take the field, he feels confidence!
Get the Shane Carr College Goalie Training Pack.
Danny Hincks – Communication Strategies
Georgetown goalie Danny Hincks gave an awesome presentation all about lacrosse goalie communication.
As a goalie if we can communicate with our D effectively, we will see more savable shots and the entire unit will be better.
Hincks just transferred to Georgetown for his final year and so he’s with a brand new team. Common situation for a youth goalie who might be playing with a new club or school.
Here is the main takeaway for me in this one – the better you can get to know your teammates OFF the field, the better your on field communication will be.
He talked about how NFL quarterbacks and receivers build a rapport by spending time with each other, so it goes too for a lacrosse defense.
Get to know your teammates off the field and watch how the on field communication flourishes.
Get the Danny Hincks College Goalie Training Pack.
Hayley Hunt – Why Goalies Should Use the Wide Base Stance
More and more in the men’s game we’re seeing lacrosse goalies switch to a wide base stance where the feet are very much wider than the shoulders.
In this virtual coaching session, Lehigh goalie Hayley Hunt discussed why she uses the wide base stance as a female goalie.
Does it work? Well she led all D1 goalies in save percentage last season at 54.3%.
My main takeaway on this one was using the wide base stance to combat a hitch.
Many goalies upon the shooter firing the shot bring their knees together. This is almost an involuntary response in many goalies. Even top level goalies do it.
If you can adapt that wide base stance it can help you not buckle those knees together and be in a perfect body position to explode to that shot.
Hayley also broke down all the reasons why the wide base stance helps her save those 8 meter shots.
Get the Hayley Hunt College Goalie Training Pack here.
Matt Garber – Game Day Routine
Boston University goalie and 2022 All-American Matt Garber gave a great virtual coaching all about a goalie’s game day routine.
He outlined different elements that you would want in a routine and went through his own personal routine in detail.
My main takeaway in this one was simply the importance of having a solid game day routine.
As lacrosse goalie’s we have so much to worry about. And a lot of goalie’s minds tend to go all over the place leading up a game.
By establishing a solid game routine we’re eliminating variables. It helps the mind calm itself.
For a long time Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg wore the same clothes every single day. Why? To save mental energy of having to select something each day. We can do the same things as lacrosse goalie.
There’s a phrase “control what you can control” echoed to many a lacrosse goalie when referring to the mental game.
Well your game day routine is 100% something you can control!
Get the Matt Garber College Goalie Training Pack here.
Chayse Ierlan – Clearing Tips and Lessons
A complete lacrosse goalie not only knows how to make those saves, they also know how to clear the ball.
Chayse did an amazing job of breaking down skills that lacrosse goalies should be able to demonstrate at different ages levels like U10, Junior High, High School.
He also went through a ton of drills that would help a lacrosse goalie develop their ability to throw great outlet passes. Which of course is crucial for clearing.
My main takeaway was Chayse’s answer to a question I get all the time: What do I do if nobody is open? I don’t who to pass it to.
Like an NFL quarterback has reads (or progressions) on a particular play, that’s what lacrosse goalies need too.
So before you even make the save, you already know what you’re going to do. Go through your goalie read progressions!
Get the Chayse Ierlan Training Pack here.
Rachel Hall – How to Evaluate Your Own Game Film
Boston College goalie and national champion Rachel Hall did her virtual coaching session on how to evaluate yourself on tape.
As she mentioned several times during this session – the tape don’t lie! If you’re not watching yourself on film, you 100% should be.
It’s an amazing tool to level up your game and Rachel gave us a ton of tips on exactly what to look for.
One big takeaway is using film study to pick one specific thing.
Then we go to the field with the intention of working on that one specific thing.
So for example if I notice on film that I’m struggling with moving on the arc I would take a bunch of drills with me out to the field and focus on improving this element of my goalie game.
Love that level of detail.
Get the Rachel Hall Training Pack here.
Kait Devir – Training to be a Goalie (nutrition and exercise information)
USC goalie Kait Devir gave an amazing virtual coaching session on a topic which nobody else has really covered.
For KD, fueling her body and training effectively are two elements that when tackled properly allow her to take the field with supreme confidence.
In this session she went into depth on what her nutrition plan and her physical training off the field looks like.
The main takeaway for me was a look under the hood into how the USC women’s lacrosse team trains:
What was cool too is Kait used to play at Boston College so she was able to compare and contrast strength training at 2 different D1 programs with 2 different strength and conditioning coaches.
During the session Kait outlined everything she eats in a day to be a great goalie. She always shared her famous pre-game meal that all her teammates know her for.
You’ll also want to checkout her YouTube channel as she teased the fact she’ll be releasing a video soon she did with her roommates preparing dinner.
Get the Kait Devir Goalie Training Pack here.
Sarah Reznick – Mindset: Before, During and After a Game/Practice/Tryout
Next up we had Sarah Reznick from Florida giving us goalies more mindset training.
Specifically how to deal with emotions and feelings before, during, and after a big tryout or game.
Maybe you’re nervous, jittery, excited, or anxious. Or maybe you’re focused and calm. These emotions are normal but goalies tend to feel them way more intensely due to the nature of our position.
One of the main takeaways for me was how your body language can really effect your mindset.
Your physiology (or body language) 100% effects your mind. So if after giving up a goal you slump those shoulders, it only leads to further downward spiral.
100% positive language at all times and the mind will follow!
Also funny moment during this when we realized that goldfish pictured wasn’t very happy. Since they only have 10 second memories something bad must have happened to him right at that moment.
Get Sarah Reznick Goalie Training Pack here.
Emily Sterling – Overcoming an Injury as a Lacrosse Goalie
Perhaps you watched Emily Sterling 2022 goalie of the year campaign with Maryland.
What you may not know is that during the final game of her high school career Emily tore her ACL.
It was a long road back both mentally and physically. In this coaching session she shared a lot of deep insights into her recovery process that others can use in the unfortunate event they suffer something similar.
What I liked about this one was that these lessons are actually useful even if you’re not dealing with an injury.
For example Emily talked about setting small goals during her recovery. Little goals like 1. tie my own shoes 2. shower without help etc.
Setting small goals is an amazing tip for a young goalie. If you can set a goal, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, and then hit that goal you get into a winner’s mindset.
And that can level up your game (and life) in ways that you can’t even imagine.
Get the Emily Sterling Goalie Training Pack here.
Ashley Vernon – Finding what Style of Play Works Best for You
Most goalies who get the D1 level start playing a very young age. Not Ashley.
She started playing lacrosse as a freshman in high school which is relatively late.
One point that she reiterated which I agree with 100% is this – during your career you’re going to have multiple coaches and each may have something new they want you to do as a goalie.
I think giving it an honest try and seeing if it works is something all goalies should do.
If it works better, great! You got a new tool in your arsenal.
If it doesn’t work for you, then you can be confident knowing that you’re playing the right way for you.
You might have to have (an uncomfortable) 1×1 conversation with the coach because some are ‘my or the highway’ coaches who don’t take well to goalies not going what they say.
Get the Ash Vernon College Goalie Training Pack.
Jack Thompson – The Perfect Save
We don’t always make the perfect save as lacrosse goalies but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive for perfection.
Understanding (and practicing) the elements of a perfect save will improve your game and have you making MORE saves.
In his presentation Jack went through the stance, the precise save movement, and a bunch of other things that go into making the perfect save.
One of the main takeaways for me during Jack’s presentation was the video examples he shared. He filmed himself making the perfect save to each spot (Stick side high, stick side hip, low, etc.)
It’s great to see visually what those type of saves look like. But even better, he filmed himself making some common mistakes that prevent us goalies from making the perfect save.
Are your hands driving out towards the ball? Or are they in by the body like a T-Rex?
If we’re making the perfect save, the answer should be the former.
If you look like Jack in this clip, your hands are into your body too much. Get them extended for quicker saves.
Buy Jack Thompson College Goalie Training Pack here.
Will Mark – Work Smarter Not Harder
Syracuse goalie and 2x All-American Will Mark gave his virtual coaching session on how to work smarter.
He challenged all the goalies on the session to come with an ideal training plan to be an elite goalie.
The main takeaway then was when he shared his current training plan:
This is everything that happens OUTSIDE of team practices and team lifts.
Just goes to show that you’re probably not putting in enough work to match the lofty goals that you have as a goalie.
Get the Will Mark College Goalie Training Pack here.
Sophia LeRose – The Save Cycle
San Diego native Sophia LeRose gave her virtual coaching session on 3 important topics: positioning, angles, and low shots.
During her presentation on low shots she shared an image of herself making a low save:
That hip flexibility was the main takeaway for me. We had a good discussion on what training she does to keep those hips flexible and explosive.
Many goalies on low saves reach with the hands and don’t drop the hips which leads to poorer tracking and less saves on low shots.
Tillman Johnson said if your hips start on level 2, when we make a low save they need finish on level 1.
Get the Sophia LeRose College Goalie Training Pack here.
Thomas Sullivan – Lacrosse Goalie 101 for Parents
D2 goalie Thomas Sullivan from Belmont Abbey gave an overview of the goalie position and the struggles that we go through specifically to educate all the lacrosse goalie Moms and Dads out there.
By understanding the mental challenges associated with this position, parents are in a better spot to help out their young goalie when the mental battle rears its ugly head.
One great takeaway was when a lacrosse goalie Mom asked how she could get her “easy to bruise” daughter to wear shin guards.
Sully discussed how he grew up idolizing John Galloway in goal and the Syracuse goalie also had football pants or big baggy sweats (with pads underneath as Galloway would confirm on my podcast with him). So it was pretty natural for the young Sully to wear the extra padding.
I think that’s the right answer to the question. The truth is most college goalies and pros when they were young wore the extra padding.
So I recommend to this lacrosse goalie Mom that we look at her daughter’s favorite goalie. The Mom said that was Emily Sterling. Perfect.
Listen to this –
Here’s a pic of Emily at practice (2nd pic in the carousel):
If Emily Sterling can wear shin guards, so can you.
Get the Thomas Sullivan College Goalie Training Pack here.
So there you go. 17 lacrosse goalie tips from the virtual coaching sessions my sponsored athletes put on.
Thank you very much to everyone who showed up to these coaching sessions live and participated.
I just gave you one takeaway from each session but believe me, they were full of amazing learning moments.
I highly recommend you pickup the College Goalie Training Packs if you’re interested in leveling up your youth’s lacrosse goalie game.
Until next time, Coach Damon
PS – Did you attend any of these goalie coaching sessions live? What was your favorite? Leave me a comment down below.