One of the most under-appreciated aspects of the goalie game is getting a good warmup.
Too often we see coaches send an attackman or an assistant coach who doesn’t know what he’s doing to simply crank shots on a young goalie hoping to prepare him/her for the game. This is not an effective lacrosse goalie warmup.
If your goalie’s save percentage is noticeably lower in the 1st quarter there’s a good chance they’re not getting the right pre-game warmup.
A great warmup for a lacrosse goalie gets your body and your mind ready for a game.
Here’s the complete warmup I take my goalies through prior to a game. We’ll also do this warmup periodically at the beginning of practice depending upon the situation that day.
Lacrosse Goalie Warmup Plan
Before we jump into the cage we need to get our bodies going.
We want to get warm and but not tired and we also want to trigger our muscle memory that we’ve worked so hard in practice to develop. Before taking any shots I’ll have my keepers do some light cardio and stretching
Light Cardio and Stretching
2-3 minutes jump rope or 2-3 minutes Magic Square drill followed by a couple of sprints
5 minutes stretching
Now our body is a little loose and we start with our muscle memory drills with no stick
No Stick Muscle Memory Drills
How many times do see lacrosse goalies jump right into the goal for a warmup? A good warmup begins outside the cage and starts to prepare your body to make saves.
Look at all the work we’ve put prior to stepping into the goal. These drills are not physically tiring so we’re still leaving plenty in the tank for the game.
Now we’ll start with shots.
From 10-12 yards out, shooting at about 70-80% speed, I’ll take 5-10 shots in each of the areas, specifically in this order:
high (above chest)
hip (chest to knees)
low (knees to ground)
bounce (high bounce and low bounce)
I think this approach is better than shooting stick-side high then off-stick high, etc. because we get the goalie reacting to ball. These shots should be at a fairly quick tempo.
Now I’ll repeat 1, expect this time I’ll be moving on an arc so the goalie gets to see shots from different angles.
Gradually increase the speed here until we reach 100%
Next, I’ll do alley dodges simulating a sweeping middie and take shots.
5-10 shots from each side.
Now we’ll introduce a feeder who passes the ball to me before the shot. Ensure goalie is getting into proper position, giving a loud “CHECK” call, and stepping to make the save.
5-10 shots passing left to right
5-10 shots passing right to left
5-10 shots passing X to wing
Finally we’ll do some drives from X’s to work on 1×1 saves.
This lacrosse goalie warmup should only take about 15 minutes. If its taking longer, up the tempo of your shots.
If you notice a goalie struggling with a particular shot, do a few more reps until he/she gets comfortable making that save.
Throughout the entire warmup, the goalie needs to yell “SHOT” during each shot. This will get him in the habit of being loud and communicating to the defense.
If the goalie is gassed after this warmup, it indicates that they’re not in good shape and you should incorporate fitness drills into your practice and/or ensure they’re following a lacrosse goalie workout program to get them into shape.
After this warmup you should have a sweat going but should not be tired. Have the goalie grab some water and rest a little before the game starts.
Providing Encouragement During the Warmup
Part of the perfect lacrosse goalie warmup not only gets his body ready, but also his mind.
We want the goalie’s confidence to be build during the warmup and be extremely high during the game.
During the warmup, I’ll be providing encouragement to the goalie to get his confidence going and also reinforce proper save position that I’m seeing. Here things I’ll say during the warmup:
Great save Matt!
Nice step Matt!
Good Matt! Way to move your feet!
Nice save Matt! Good quick hands.
Looking good today Matt!
Use his name and the tone of your voice should be extremely excited. This will help build his/her confidence.
Even the best goalie in the world still gets scored on. So if a few shots go in during the warmup, it’s ok. Reinsure the goalie saying things like “No problem, that was a tough shot” and providing some feedback.
What to do during a bad warmup
It happens to all goalies at some point in their lacrosse career.
The coach is not shooting particularly hard during the warmup but you can’t seem to stop anything. Shots are going in left and right and the game hasn’t even started yet.
Here’s what I recommend goalies do if they find themselves off during a warmup:
Talk a walk – Literally leave the crease and take a walk. Let the coach know you need a minute and take a breather, mentally clearing your head.
Deep breaths – Take several deep, focused breathes to calm down and mentally clear your head.
Stretch – Often times we’re a little slow to react because we’re tight. Spend a little more time stretching and loosening the body.
Start Over – Time permitting, sometimes its best to start the warmup over. Right from the very beginning with some light cardio and no stick drills, going through all the steps necessary to get your body ready. Wipe the slate clean and start over with your mind and your body.
It’s ok to have a bad warmup. This is going to happen to every lax goalie. The key is to be ready for it. And know what you do when you’re in the middle of a bad warmup because when the game starts that All-American attackman could care less whether or not you had a bad warmup.
A proper warmup is essential to getting a goalie ready for a game.
You can’t go from seeing shots at 50% speed to suddenly seeing full speed shots and expect great results. Therefore we must use the time before the game to get our goalie’s body and mind prepared to dominate a full game.
Using the techniques and drills I’ve described above your goalie should be better prepared to make saves when the first whistle blows and it really matters.
Until next time! Coach Damon
Do you do anything different for your warmup? Let me know about it in the comments.
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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.