Place a different colored tennis ball atop each cone.
The coach stands about 5 feet in front of the goal with the colored tennis balls in a bucket. He pulls out a ball quickly and throws it to a different spot in the goal.
The goalie must make the save, driving their top hand and lead foot to the ball. After making the save the goalie tosses the ball at the cone which matches the tennis ball’s color.
There should be very little time in between throws. We want this drill to be quick. As the tennis balls comes, the goalie doesn’t know which color is coming so they need to react to make the save while reading the color and quickly processing the information.
I also like to have the goalie shout the name of the color as he/she makes the save.
If you make a mistake, don’t worry about it, move on. As a goalie, you’re going to let in goals. It happens.
The most important element is how you react. Do you pout and compound the errors? Or do you move on to the next ball?
Any sport that requires quick feet and quick reactions will benefit from jumping rope.
Jumping rope is usually synonymous with boxers but lacrosse goalies should also work as much of this exercise into their regiment as possible.
As part of a good pre-game warmup, I always recommend that lax goalies work in jumping rope in addition to their normal shot regiment.
Any standard jump rope will do, doesn’t have to be fancy.
Here is a video that shows different jump roping exercises:
I recommend at least 10-15 minutes of jumping rope per day. Jumping rope is also a drill you can do before practice or even after practice to get in some extra work.
This is another drill I learned from Coach Bill Pilat which improves the foot speed and agility of our goalies.
To setup this drill, we’ll place our goalie stick perpendicular to a line on the field as pictured above. This creates 4 quadrants.
With this magic square there are several variations that we will do –
One Foot – Jump on one foot from quadrant 1 to 2 to 3 to 4. Repeat with the other foot.
Two Feet – Jump and land on two feet now. From quadrant 1 to 2 to 3 to 4. Keep your feet and ankles together.
Diagonal and Back – On two feet, we’ll jump diagonally from quadrant 1 to 3, then 3 to 4 jumping back, then 4 to 2 diagonally, and finally 2 to 1 jumping back.
Jump Turn – We’ll start with 1 foot in quadrant 1 and the other in quadrant 4, straddling the stick. We’ll jump forward to land with our feet in quadrants 2 and 3. Then we’ll jump and do a 180 so our feet are now reversed in quadrants 2 and 3. Jump forward to quadrants 1 and 4 and then do another 180.
For each of the variations we’ll have the goalies go for 30 seconds. Take a 30 second break and then repeat.
For this drill, we’ll set up 3 cones in a line with 3 feet in between each cone.
Start in your goalie stance slightly behind the center cone.
We’ll shuffle to left, bend down at the waist to touch the cone, then shuffle back to touch the far cone. Finally, we’ll shuffle back to the center and get into ready position.
I like to have the goalie also touch the cones with their top hand because that simulates making a save.
An optional step here is the coach can then throw a shot at the goalie, who needs to make the save by reacting quickly.
So the steps are shuffle to the left cone, shuffle to the right cone, shuffle back to center, make a save.
The Goalie Shuttle drill is going to tie together our footwork, our lateral movement, and also being set and in proper save position after being on the move.
We’ll position ourselves in the goal, on our knees with stick and gloves (other gear optional).
The coach will throw or shoot balls to the off-stick side.
Have the goalie focus on really getting that underhand movement while driving the top hand to the ball.
Make sure they’re not sweeping that top hand to the ball. They should be “cutting the clock” moving the top hand in a straight line to the shot.
The bottom hand punches out to aid in quick stick rotation.
We’re not going to move our legs, feet, or body in this drill. We’re strictly working on hands movement.
Similar to jumping rope, the agility ladder is perfect for improving conditioning and foot speed.
You’ll need to purchase an agility ladder if you don’t already have one.
Here is the program I’ll have my goalies follow, it includes 13 different exercises in the agility ladder –
Once you get comfortable with the 13 exercises shown in the video you can then incorporate some lacrosse balls.
As you doing the agility exercises have a partner toss you balls that you catch and toss back. This will work hand-eye coordination while we’re moving our feet.
For this drill we set up three different stations. Similar to other drills in this list we’re improving foot speed with this drill. We’re also working muscle memory and conditioning with the 3 Station drill.
We’ll go quickly from one station to the next after finishing.
Station 1: Zig Zag Drill – Setup 5 lacrosse balls at 45-degree angle, in a zig-zag. Step and drive your top hand to simulate making a low save. Reset your body position and do it again with the next lacrosse ball at the station.
Station 2: Arc Drill – Immediately move to station 2 where we have 4 lacrosse balls setup to simulate the spots in between our 5-step arc. Simulate making a save on a low shot in between your legs.
Then move to the next spot on the arc and reset. Again, simulate making the low save, driving your top down. Move to the next spot and repeat.
Station 3: Lateral Step – Lateral step is a little more of an advanced move, so skip this if your goalie is brand new. In this station we setup 4 balls in a row. Instead of taking our 45-degree step, we’ll take a lateral step and simulate making a low save.
Goalie Lead Hand Drill
This is a classic lacrosse goalie drill and should be in every goalie’s training arsenal regardless of age or level.
For this drill, the coach will simply throw balls at the goalie who makes the save with only his top hand.
If you have two goalies, have them throw each other the balls while the coach analyzes their form to ensure its right. Chest up, top hand straight to the ball, with a lead step. Eyes ridiculously focused on the ball the entire time.
We’ll work on tying together our lead hand and our lead step. Lead hand is top hand (right for righties, left for lefties) and lead foot is the foot on which side the ball is shot (ball shot to your left, left foot is the lead foot).
For this drill, I like to build to up:
Start with just top hand
Add lead step (top hand + lead step)
Add trail step (top hand + lead step + finish with trail step)
For this drill, as you may have guessed, we’re going to be working on improving our reaction time.
We need a special ball called a reaction ball. The reaction ball has lumps on the outside so that the bounce is unpredictable.
There are a variety of drills we can do using the reaction ball:
Solo – You’re looking for a lacrosse goalie drill you can do by yourself, this is one. First drop the reaction ball in front of you. Then react by taking a step toward whatever direction the ball bounces and catch it in your hands.
You can do this drill using only the top hand to catch the ball and then do it using both hands to catch the ball.
Bounce Shots with Partner, bare hands – Stand about 5 feet apart from your partner and throw bounce shots to one another using the reaction ball. Step with your lead foot and drive with your lead hand, making a reaction as you see where the ball is going.
Get reset in your stance prior to each throw.
Bounce Shots with Partner, with equipment – Same drill as above but we’ll now where our sticks, gloves, and helmet. Also same as above, we want to drive our top hand to the ball and step with our lead foot.
For this set of drills we’ll use a heavy bar from the gym. A lacrosse shaft filled with pennies or sand can also substitute here.
You can also buy a power shaft (no affiliation) which was invented specifically for these types of drills.
We’re going to be working on building quickness and muscle memory in this set of drills.
Walk the Line – Simulate making saves to all the different spots using the heavy bar. Stick-side high, stick-side hip, stick-side low, 5 hole, off-stick low, off-stick hip, off-stick high.
Save Tennis Balls – Now we’ll throw tennis balls at the goalie and have him make saves using the heavy bar. We should focus on driving our top hand to meet the tennis ball. Shoot to various areas of the
Walk the Arc – Holding the heavy, simple walk your arc, back and forth.
Normal Warmup – You can even attach the heavy shaft to your normal goalie head and go through a normal warmup. After doing this exercise when you go back to your normal lacrosse shaft the thing is going to feel as light as feather in your hands.
You can also combine the heavy bar with the 3 Stations drill or the Off-Stick Hands drill described above for an extreme workout.
This drill will build up arm strength and hand quickness while maintaining a good goalie positioning.
Mini Hurdle Drills
For this final set of drills, we’re going to need a set of mini hurdles.
These drills are a proven method for improving foot speed and quickness.
Once you’re comfortable progressing through the hurdles you can increase the complexity of this drill by having a coach throw you a lacrosse ball to catch while you make your way through the hurdles.
You can also perform the drills with your lacrosse goalie stick in your hands, simulating saves as you go through the hurdles.
Follow the program outlined in this video during your offseason workouts and you’ll notice a significant gain in quickness when its time to start making saves in the goal.
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.
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11 thoughts on “18 Lacrosse Goalie Drills to Improve Your Reaction Time and Foot Speed”
Protection for goalies, as a father of a goalie I am always concerned about my son getting hurt by a shot. At the Lehigh lacrosse tournament this past weekend I am amazed at parents that let their son’s go in the cage with little (minimal) protection. I make my son where all the best protective equipment I can find. There in is my concern. Most of the protective shorts are poor quality and protection. I do not understand why the manufacture’s put pads on the outside hips and no protection on the inner thigh or around the belt area under the chest protector. Your thoughts or advice, thanks.
Hi Kevin – Thanks for the comment. I do think we’re going to see a trend of lacrosse goalies using more pads. Manufacturers will wisen up and start creating better padding that customized for lacrosse goalies desire for both mobility and protection. In the meantime, goalies need to get creative but definitely use as much protection as possible.
Excellent base of drills to work with goalies of all ages& levels. Have been using them all for last 3 years with a youth league. It looks like my freshman son will be starting HS V goalie this year due in no small part to his quickness. This quickness was a natural gift that was much improved by all these types of drills. Thanks for taking the time to post them , much appreciated!
Of course, as many Coach/Dads do, we tweak the drills s little. Or invent ones on our own.
Goalie scramble: goalie starts laying face down outside of crease, stick is placed on opposite side of crease. At whistle or call, goalie gets up , quickly retrieves stick, gets in goal to save a shot. Not sure how great this is for goalie development but it’s a hoot to watch. …it’s amazing how coach able some of my players have proved to be over the years.
Currently, my son is teaching the upperclass goalies how to juggle….
Thanks for that comment Dave! Congrats on your son starting varsity his freshman year. Hope he has a great season!
Love the drills!
Could not get past the verification process to download PDF.
Could you email it to me, thanks!
Thanks Denise. I just sent you an email.
You forgot one of the best ones. So the goalie is on his knees right in the center of the cage and the coach shoots bounce shots (not hard but enough to make it difficult) and the goalie controls the rebound, now here’s the option you can either have 4 goalies ( they can be field players but it’s more fun with goalies set up around the crease, if he gives up the rebound and doesn’t clamp the ball the goalies set up around pick it up and shoot it.
Thanks for adding that goalie drill.
Hi, Coach –
I just stumbled upon your awesome site, and I’ve been reading it for the past few days!
My daughter is 14, and has been playing as a GK for only a year, both with our town league, and now a local club (Unfortunately, in our town league, it wasn’t until the girls were in Grade 7 that they were allowed to play a dedicated position, so my daughter is really behind the eight-ball). She was previously a competitive swimmer, swimming 3 – 4 times a week, but gave it up at the end of summer, 2016, to concentrate on lacrosse. As a result, she gained some weight, and is much slower in her footwork and reflexes than last year. She just had an evaluation by her goalie coach, and it wasn’t terrific (2’s and 3/s out of a possible 5), so, she has some work ahead of her. I plan on buying your book, and reading it, cover-to-cover, but would appreciate being able to access the “Goalie Drills” and any physical training regimen that you might suggest.
Thank you SO much – yours is a vital resource for all, and, especially those of us who are new to the game!
Hi Emily – Glad you found my site. If you search ‘lacrosse goalie workout’ you’ll find some relevant posts of mine regarding getting into shape. Everything is organized and clear in the book including all drills and physical training I recommend. Good luck with your daughter. I wouldn’t say she’s behind the 8-ball after starting at age 14. I started my goalie career way after that. Anyways I hope she can become a dominant goalie. – Damon
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