When we play in goal there are 2 equally important elements of our game – 1.) making the save 2.) leading the defense.
The better you do the 2nd element, the easier the 1st becomes.
One of the most important parts of leading a defense is being a great communicator. Your personal knowledge is not useful if you cannot quickly, concisely, and accurately relay that information to your teammates.
This is post offers a few additional tips on lacrosse goalie communication.
Tips for Lacrosse Goalie Communication
As I’ve discussed in previous posts, putting the lacrosse goalie terms to memory is important for both goalies and every member of the defense.
If your team is going to communicate well, you’ve got to have a standard language that everyone is familiar with.
Here are a few additional trick and tips I’ve picked up from various coaches in my lacrosse career.
When a new goalie starts manning the cage, no matter how loud he/she thinks they’re speaking, they always need to be louder.
New goalies are typically shy given that they lack the confidence to stop shots. As you gain experience and confidence you’ll find that your presence in the cage becomes stronger.
But no reason a new goalie can’t work on being louder because if your team can’t hear your defense commands, they’re useless.
After years of playing in goal, several offensive players have told me that when our defense and especially the goalie was talking loud, it was distracting to their offensive game.
Modify Your Voice to Match the Situation
The way you let a D man know he can pass you the ball “HERE’S YOUR HELP” better be said in a much different tone than sending a slide “FIRE”.
Why? Because the 2 situation are extremely different in their urgency so the tone of our voice needs to match.
When everything is urgent, nothing really is.
Your teammates will listen more intently if you’re talking in a way they see as out of the ordinary.
Most situations on the lacrosse field do require urgency, but not all. So just keep that in mind so when a truly urgent situation presents itself you can modify your voice to show excitement and urgency.
Your teammates will respond.
Be Consistent With Your Communication
Playing defense is as much a conversation as it is anything else.
When you are conversing with someone the best thing you can do is to stay away from silences in that conversation.
If there are times where you are super into it, and enthusiastic, and times where you are not this will result in a very sporadic defensive effort.
What we certainly don’t want is our defense to be is a roller coaster.
Use Full Names When Calling Slides and 2 Slides
Full names? Oh yeah. While it may seem a little out of the ordinary, I encourage goalies to use full names for the same reason I encourage them to change their tone and excitement levels.
It makes your team, and more specifically, your 1 and 2 slides, listen far more intently.
Nothing gets a defender’s attention better than saying the full name. It’s better than saying their number. It’s better than saying just their 1st or last name.
“Mike Johnson, you’re the go”!!
When you say their first and last name they know something is up and they are ready to go.
I imagine if someone has a super long first / last name combination you may have to shorten it in the name of concise communication. However you get the idea – using something out of the ordinary perks attention.
Get a Custom Fit Mouth Guard
Most goalies I know despise using mouth guards. I get it – it’s hard to speak with a chunky piece of plastic in your mouth.
If you’re playing a club game or with your friends, you can ditch the mouth guard but not in a game.
Mouth guards are a part of the required lacrosse goalie equipment and thus by rule, you must wear one at all times on the field.
During one of my 1st games in goal, a referee caught me without a mouth guard and just like that I was sent to the penalty box and to my coach’s poop list.
Then I tried the plastic attached to the helmet trick where you don’t really have a mouth guard but you do have the plastic exterior piece connected to the helmet to give the appearance that you do.
Again I was caught by the ref. Lucky this was pre-game so no penalty.
If you don’t like the standard ShockDoctor mouth guard (this one), take a visit to your dentist.
They can take a mold of your mouth and make a custom mouth guard that’s used for sleeping however will work fine for lacrosse.
Just make sure the plastic is colored because by rule clear mouth guard do not work.
With this mouth guard in you’ll have no problem communicating with the team and you’ll also get protection from concussions if you leave the crease or get tagged in the helmet with a rocket.
Basic Lacrosse Goalie Communication: Location of Ball + Defense
There are two things that a goalie should communicate at all times – the location of the ball and defense setup their team is using.
In today’s game defenses can change quite bit in game. Different defenses are run to combat different plays, players, and the general swing of the game.
If a defensemen is not constantly reminded of what defense is being run they may be on a completely different page than the rest of the team And that usually means goals against you.
Communication of the ball’s location is extremely important because unlike the goalie, defenders do not stare at the ball.
They’re checking their man, they’re fighting through screens, they’re moving into position to slide. Any number of things that requires looking away from the ball.
Thus its critical that they hear the goalie’s communication of where the ball is – X, TOP LEFT, TOP RIGHT, etc. This way they can properly position themselves.
Constant communication from the goalie helps the team avoid losing focus during a defensive stretch.
Referring back to my 1st 2 tips in this article – this communication needs to be LOUD so people can hear it but NOT urgent. Since this info is being said constantly let’s save the excited/urgent tone for when it really matters.
If you’re a brand new goalie without much knowledge how to communicate in the goal, you can focus on communicating these 2 elements – location of the ball and defensive setup.
Then with experience you’ll learn what to say and when.
When I think of what makes a good goalie I look at a few categories: Consistency, Ability, Lacrosse IQ, Work Ethic and finally Communication.
Learning to speak loud and clear and with the right urgency is just as important as working your lax goalie drills.
A goalie is the equivalent to a quarterback in football, I’m sure you have all heard that on numerous occasions, but that’s because ITS TRUE.
QB’s have to put in the most work in all areas of their game to play well; this is also true of goalies. So be sure to put in as much work on your communication game as you do on other parts because all categories of successful goalie play carry equal weight.
Good luck on your road to success. Until next time!
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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.