7 Common Fakes From Offensive Players and How Goalies Can Win | Lax Goalie Rat

7 Common Fakes From Offensive Players and How Goalies Can Win

This is a guest post from Steve Gagliardi, a former D1 lacrosse player and founder of LaxFarmer.com – a site dedicated to in-depth lacrosse gear reviews.

He was not a goalie but rather an offensive player and in this guest post he’ll share some of their tricks.

That is – different fakes that offensive players use to better prep us goalies to make that big save.

Enter Steve G.

Keeping goalies on their toes.

It’s what every offensive player aims to achieve. But how can we manipulate the goalie to move away from our shot, without touching them?

Seems like magic. Seems like hearsay. Nope. It’s simply deception – a skill any young player can master.

When it comes to stringing together fakes, there are some nifty options you can add to your arsenal. And believe me. Burying the ball in the back of the net becomes a whole lot easier when we can move the goalie off of their line.

But studying fakes not only benefits offensive players, it advantages goalies as well. A free look into our bag of tricks.

Every goalie’s dream, right?

In this article, we will dive into the 7 most common fakes from offensive players, and how goalies can sniff them out in the knick of time.

1. Head & Shoulder Fake

The head & shoulder fake is a relatively new one that is gaining traction amongst attackmen.

Here’s how it works: when an offensive player is streaking towards the net with the ball, they will dip their head and shoulders down, but keep their stick high and often shoot high.

The head and shoulder fake is designed to get goalies to bite low so the offensive player can finish high. Attackmen love this fake because it takes less time and energy than a stick fake. It’s a subtle move that is very effective in deceiving keepers.

As a goalie, how can you see this coming?

Attackmen will typically only throw this fake in dicey situations; namely, in a short window of time before a defender closes in on them.

Most of the time this fake takes place on the wing. If a player is crashing towards the net from the wing, either after receiving a pass or beating their defender, they often throw and head & shoulder fake and finish high, especially if it is a highly skilled attackman.

2. Crease Fakes

Crease fakes are a tale as old as time.

They are a series of 1-3 fakes thrown by an attackman who is one on one with the goalie in front of the net.

Believe it or not, this is a lot harder than it looks to finish. When one on one with a goalie, there’s less pressure on the goalie to make the save and more pressure on the offensive player to score.

Instead of overthinking it, attackmen often resort to fake high, shoot around the goalie, or a fake high, fake low, shoot high routine. Those are the two most common crease fake sequences.

As a goalie, it might be best to play the odds. Kick your leg out to make the save off of your hip. If he doesn’t shoot there, get ready to stand tall again and make the save up top.

If you can guess correctly and make that stop, you have earned yourself a big ol’ plot of real estate in the mind of that offensive player for the rest of the game.

3. Toe Drag

Wow this one is smooth. The famous toe drag is one of the cleanest lacrosse fakes you’ll ever see.

A toe drag is the act of faking a shot, drawing the defender towards you, then quickly pulling the head of your stick down past your toes and past the defender. The toe drag, like Judo, uses the defender’s momentum against them – leaving the offensive player one one on with the goalie for a prime scoring opportunity.

There are two ways you can sniff out a toe drag before they happen.

First, is the offensive player a Canadian style player? This may seem silly, but Canadiens have a higher propensity to toe drag than traditional American players. This will change as the game evolves over time, but for now, if you’re scouting a Canadian offensive player, you’ll likely see a toe drag in their repertoire.

Secondly, were they an outside shooting threat earlier in the game? If so, the defense sometimes tends to overreact and lunge at an offensive player in an unbalanced manner.

This presents the perfect opportunity for offensive players to toe drag their defender and slip right by them.

Since the toe drag is more of a dodge the key for a goalie to remain patient and treat it like any other shot.

4. Hitch

The hitch is a subtle move that adds a ton of ROI onto a shooter’s shot.

Instead of simply catching and shooting off of a pass, an offensive player can “hitch”, which is a subtle fake shot, move up field to increase their angle, and then take the shot.

Similar to a toe drag, a hitch will often use the defender’s momentum against them. For example, when a defender slides hard to an open guy, instead of rushing the shot, the offensive player can hitch to give themselves more time, room, and often a better shooting angle.

Hitches happen at the blink of an eye, so they are more difficult to spot. However, there are a few tells that a goalie can be prepared for.

Many young players tend to oversell the hitch. They will over-exaggerate their hands and do a big wind up with their stick. Because offensive players are “acting” as if they will shoot, hitching comes across as unnatural in the beginning.

As offensive players improve, defenses will need to be proactive in cutting off the hitch altogether. For example, as you get older, close defenders become wise to the hitch, and prevent it by taking a top side approach. This forces an offensive player to dodge down the alley, significantly reducing their shot percentage.

The key for a goalie who gets faked out on a hitch is a quick reset. This can be achieved by using the “hop” technique.

5. Behind The Back Fake

This is an extremely rare fake to witness. However, I sense it will gain some traction as behind the back passes become more utilized.

Popularized by the likes of Lyle Thompson and Connor Fields, the behind the back fake is often thrown when an attackman is leaning up against a defender. Nifty, creative types are dangerous from this position.

They can roll, they can shoot, they can feed, and more recently – they can throw a behind the back pass. This is a lot information for the defender to process as they contain the offensive threat. Now, add in a behind the back fake.

Because this is such a novel fake, the defense can lose track of the ball for a few seconds. This is more than enough time for the attacker to free up his position and get a high percentage shot on cage.

How can you see this coming? Again, look for scenarios where an offensive player has his back pressed up against his defender.

Depending on how creative the player is, assume anything can happen from this position. The defense and goalie need to be on high alert. If an attackman gets too comfortable in this position, the defensive coordinator and/or goalie of the opposing team will often send a surprise double when the offensive player isn’t looking.

We’ve see guys like Michael Ehrhardt savagely yardsaled attackman from this position. Preventing behind the back fakes is a matter of disrupting the offense early and often, and proactively making attackmen uncomfortable.

6. No Look Pass

No look passes are prevalent in dozens of sports. Patrick Mahomes in the NFL. Tons of NBA players. And lacrosse is no different.

More commonly, it is high level offensive players like Tom Schreiber and Grant Ament of the Archers Lacrosse Club who shuffle no look passes into their bag of tricks.

No look passes are designed to shift a defense in one direction as the ball moves in the opposite direction. Very frequently do we see no look passes utilized during man up opportunities.

As a man-down defense rotates, a no look pass can mislead them to continue their rotation in one direction, as the point man zips the ball to a goal-line extended attackman on the opposite side. No look passes are very difficult to snuff out in advance.

However, a great deterrent to no look passes is for defenders to keep their sticks up in the passing lane. This not only increases the likelihood for a defense to knock down or pick off a pass, but this prevents offensive players from wanting to take a chance on a risky no look pass altogether.

7. Hidden Ball Trick

Hidden ball tricks are a fan favorite. They are effectively an on-field magic trick designed to fool defenders, fans, commentators, and even the cameraman.

If you’ve never heard of a hidden ball trick, it is when offensive players come close together, put the ball in one player’s stick, and spontaneously disperse towards the net, all giving the illusion that they are carrying the ball.

Hidden ball tricks are not successful majority of the time, but when they work – man is it a sight to see.

Hidden ball tricks can come in a variety of ways; such as two players casually walking by each other, or even an entire offense huddled together. Regardless, stopping a hidden ball relies on an abundance of communication from the defense. The goalie needs to be informed of who actually has the ball.

Additionally, it involves getting into the hands of the offensive players early to uncover who has the ball. The longer you let a hidden ball trick unfold, the higher chance an offense has to bury the ball in the back of the net.

Final Thoughts

Offensive players have a plethora of fakes to choose from today (Wasn’t it hard enough to be a goalie?).

But as a goalie, you do not  need to be prepared to save every type of fake at any moment. Instead, it is more about understanding what type of fakes are used in certain scenarios.

Keep in mind, many of these fakes are routinely practiced and trained by offensive players. They become ingrained into the programming of the player – to the point where it is almost robotic. This is great for offenses going against an unprepared goalie.

They can score, score, and score again. But if a goalie has a response to the most common fakes in the game, the offense is forced to adapt. Players are forced out of their comfort zone.

This is where they make mistakes. And this where you can capitalize.

Back to Coach Damon

Thanks to Steve G from LaxFarmer.com for this guest post and for lifting up the hood on what those offensive players are up these days.

Just knowing that these fakes exist and being prepared will give goalies an edge when they see them out on the field.

Until next time! Coach Damon

What’s your least favorite fake to go up against? Let me know in the comments down below. 

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