My favorite non-goalie lacrosse thing on YouTube is easily Samir and Colin’s – The Lacrosse Network.
That link will take you to their channel which is packed full of awesome lacrosse videos and definitely worth a subscribe if you are into lax.
Recently Colin stepped into the goal to answer a 10 shot challenge proposed by Samir. The results were amazing.
Here’s the full video:
Playing goalie in lacrosse is hard. And its especially hard for beginners with zero experience.
The purpose of this article is to analyze Colin’s goalie stance and goalie play on 10 shots so that other goalies learning the position can benefit.
I think Colin is an absolute champ for stepping into the goal to take shots. So I’m not trying to be rude in my analysis, just giving constructive feedback so other beginner goalies making the same mistakes can identify them and get them corrected.
Analyzing Colin’s Goalie Stance
Overall, not a terrible lacrosse goalie stance for someone who has never played the position. You can tell he grew up with the game and can emulate goalies he’s seen play.
His base is good. Feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, perfect. Not too wide, nor too close together.
Tough to tell from the screenshot but he looks a little flat-footed. In a perfect goalie stance, we’re on the balls of our feet and can see just a tiny bit of daylight under the heels. Ready to attack the shot.
His knees are perfect. Bent and in an athletic position.
Colin’s back is bent a little too much. I’d guess he’s just under 6 foot tall and by straightening his back he’d take up a lot more room in goal giving the shooter a less open cage to shoot at. In the ideal goalie stance our back is straight with a slight bend forward at the hips. Nothing uncomfortable and always in an athletic position.
His hands are in decent position. In our stance the hands should be about chest-width apart on the stick which he is doing nicely. They should also be out, away from the body and in an athletic position, which Colin also has.
He has his top hand setup too low for my liking. I like to have my top hand in my field of vision, almost even with my eyes. I think this improves hand-eye coordination (Eye / Thumb / Ball) and helps goalies drive the top hand right to the ball to make the save. I encourage new goalies to setup with their top hand in their field of vision.
Granted there are different styles of lacrosse goalie play and some goalies do setup with their hands lower. So maybe Colin’s strategy is the lower hands style of goaltending.
Goalie stances from a few elite goalies for comparison:
Lacrosse Goalie Arc
Perhaps this is just the camera angle, but he’s not setup correctly on the arc. He’s giving up entirely too much of the cage on the off-stick side.
If anything you want to give up more space on the stick-side, to bait the shooter as that’s a much easier save.
Samir is shooting directly from top-center so Colin at a minimum should be setup on his arc right in the middle of the goal.
This is the body’s natural reaction to a rubber bullet being fired your way with minimal padding. The 1st stage of being a goalie is undoing our natural programming of being afraid of the ball.
It takes a lot of repetition to break the flinching habit. Some goalies are blessed to not have too bad of a flinching response – those are the really crazy ones. For others, its all about practice. Start with tennis balls and more padding until your confidence grows.
For coaches and parents, some signs of fearing the ball or shot we can see in these videos – 1.) “Happy” feet before the shot is actually released. Feet should be still until shot is released. 2.) Body moves out of the way of the ball – like a Spanish bull fighter O lé, O lé, O lé O lé!
Part of good goalie save technique is driving our top hand to the ball. You can see Colin kind of pushes the bottom of the stick towards the ball vs. driving the top hand. Our top hand should always be on the throat where the plastic meets the shaft.
But kudos to Colin – save!
If this was my goalie I was coaching, I’d go nuts for this save. Doesn’t matter that the technique is not solid. You have to cheer every save.
Shot # 2 – Missed Cage / Save
Colin is actually right on this shot. If it didn’t miss the cage wide I think he would have saved it in the stick.
Here he does a great job of driving the top hand to the shot.
I’m no expert on shooting but I think you have to shoot at what the goalie is giving you. Up above I mentioned how Colin is a little offset on his goalie arc giving up too much off-stick side. That’s where the shot should go in this case.
The feedback I have here on the goalie play is the step (or lack thereof).
To get our body into position to make a save, we want to step with our lead foot – Colin’s right foot in this case. We then follow with a trail step (his left foot) to reset our position and end in a balanced stance.
A 45 degree step would cut down the angle, allow him to arrive at the shot faster, and get his body into position for a body save in the event the stick doesn’t arrive in time.
Another piece of feedback – notice the false step Colin takes with his left foot just as the shot is released.
A false step is one that is not in the direction of the ball. We’ll need to get these out our goalie’s system if they are going to be elite.
But more kudos to Colin – another victory!
Shot #3 – Save
Now he’s just showing off – another save!
The body really moves away from the shot – O lé! – and there is no lead / trail step but he attacks the shot nicely with his hands.
But the goalies body needs to move towards the shot, not away from it.
Colin’s 1st reaction on all off-stick shots is to go over the top. This shot is shin level and he should really go underneath with his stick rotation as I discuss in ways to improve off-stick hip shots.
Judging over the top vs. underneath is going to come with practice and the ability to quickly read shots.
Again, you can see how his body actually moves away from the ball instead of towards it. A bad goalie habit that could be broken with practice.
Shot #5 – Missed Cage
I think Samir is now feeling the pressure from missing 3 out of 4 shots on a rookie goalie. He shoots wide left.
It looks like Colin is guessing where Samir is going to shoot as he moves off-stick before the shot is even released. That could also be a reaction from the fear of facing an unguarded shot.
In most cases, I encourage goalies not to guess. See the shot, move to the shot, but don’t guess.
Shot #6 – Bailout and a Goal
Remember in shot #4 when Colin got tagged in the shin. Well, he’s obviously still hurting and in shot #5 and here in shot #6 you can see he wants no part of it.
I see this with the youth goalies when they get tired or take a shot to the shins or legs that really hurts. They lose focus and they lose the will to play.
You can notice during Samir’s windup even before the release, Colin really wants no piece of this shot.
He bails out and actually finishes well outside of the cage and even completely out of the frame of the video.
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About Coach Damon
About Coach Damon
Lacrosse is my passion! The game has given me so much and this blog is my way of giving back to the lax community. Specifically the most bad a$$ part of that community - the goalies! After learning to play goalie from scratch, I wanted to create a site where I could share what I learned with others so they too can become champions in the crease and in life. Learn more about Coach Damon.