When young goalies have the idea of dropping to their knees in their head, they start to use it as a default. Dropping to their knees even on high shots. Or dropping on bounce shots that end up high.
As I discussed above, many times when a goalie ends on the ground they’re just trying to throw whatever body part they can in front of shot, and that’s fine. But – in my opinion – your default save technique for lows should be to always stay on your feet.
Undo the Habit of Dropping to Knees
So let’s say you’re a goalie who has the habit of dropping to their knees on low shots and you want to break that habit.
How do you do it?
That’s really all I can offer you. Take low shots and practice the proper technique until the habit is gone.
If you drop to your knees for a save, punish yourself by running a full field sprint or doing 25 pushups.
Get tired? Then don’t drop to your knees.
Ultimately there’s no one correct way to play this beautiful position we call lacrosse goalie.
One the variances afforded to the position is your technique for making those low saves.
There are 2 choices: drop down to your knees/butt or stay on your feet.
While both offer pros and cons I feel pretty strongly lacrosse goalies make more saves over time by staying on their feet.
Until next time! Coach Damon
What’s your low save technique? Drop to knees? Or stay on your feet? Leave me a comment down below.
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16 thoughts on “Low Saves: Drop to Your Knees or Stay on Your Feet?”
I honestly think a hybrid approach is the best way to go. You should try to remain on your feet as much as possible so you can get the pass back out as quick as possible to start the transition. However, there are certain shots (especially when your stepping and forced to cover a lot of ground and the shot is low on the far pipe) that you need to stop the ball by any means and going down is the quickest and most efficient way to do that. I say put it as a tool in your arsenal but use it sparringly.
But do you practice it? It funny how we train a certain way and then when game time rolls around our technique totally changes in the name of making saves. I get the mentality of doing anything you can to make a save. But if a kid has practiced a certain way for hours, does it make sense to change it up when game time rolls around? Are we better for it? Not sure.
I wouldn’t practice it but I wouldn’t correct them if it happens either. Again as long as it isn’t something they’re doing consistently or on routine saves then let it slide. You want your players to be reacting and not thinking. If a coach is too rigid on you need to do this or that in this situation they are not going to play quickly as they are more worried about their steps and hands than the ball. So I would push the fundamentals in practice but if they go down to a knee every now and again, I’m yelling “Great Save”.
Interesting approach Jamie. I get the idea of not overthinking things and just reacting. But when they’re learning the position thinking is the only way. Reminds me of this post I wrote about the 4 stages of development where at first the only way is to think through it then with experience you can execute your save movement without thinking. Anyways thanks for the comment.
Great teaching points Damon. I work with my local high school’s club team, specifically with the goalies, and I see a lot of goalies try to almost sweep the ball on low saves, doing a full circle around their reach and dropping to their back knee. I try to get them away from that, so this post should help.
Another point I’d like to add to the cons for kneeling is if you play with a longer goalie shaft, kneeling or dropping down can get your shaft caught in your equipment, slowing down or stopping your movements. Just a thought
True on the goalie shaft. I played with an attack shaft so never even thought of that. Direct movement to the ball is most effective – nobody will ever convince me otherwise haha
I agree wholeheartedly on the conclusion! Keeping the feet, and stepping with both feet leaves a goalie better positioned for bounce shots, rebounds, and outlet passes. Stepping with both feet also covers the entire goal face better.
Need to fix the prescription, however. “Don’t do that” coaching always involves more time, frustration, and backsliding than “do this instead” coaching. To get down on low shots quickly, goalies need to be taught to throw their hips/butt downward- while staying on feet. (Not going-to-ground as a taught technique. Ugh!)
Amen brotha – that’s what I believe and teach as well.
Yeah, I think Galloway has a point, and you mention it here as well; sometimes it really is just about making the save. Not that I specifically practice dropping to my butt or my knees on low shots, I can still think of a number of saves I’ve made with the splits technique, and getting that, albeit somewhat painful, fantastic kick save, whereas if I stayed on my feet and tried to step to the shot normally, the ball would’ve beat me to the backside pipe. It’s definitely interesting to think about the split second decisions the brain makes in these situations and how they change not only game to game but shot to shot.
Yeah I do think sometimes its about just making a save. I guess my issue is I don’t think goalies should practice one way and then play games another way. So if they don’t flop around during practice they shouldn’t all of sudden adopt this technique during just because they want to do everything they can to make the save. If they’re not practicing it they have better odds making the save like they’re trained.
This is off topic but I had the tryouts for my second season of club and they’re doing a different approach where your judged every week to see your skill and hard work is the biggest factor. What is hard work for goalie like in practice? I know of chasing the ball and running hard and try to make good clears, but what else is considered hard work,
ps I heard back on Wednesday and I made the team
100% focus and concentration on every drill. Rooting everyone on even when you’re not involved in the drill. Cheering on teammates. Always hustling during the conditioning. Loud communication. Hope that helps! LEt me know how it goes.
Such a good read. We have a lot of kids in HS that do the splits and flop for the drama of it all and sadly the crowd and parents support it not understanding the 101 rules of being a good GK. I agree with doing whatever it takes to stop a shot, but as soon as an attackman gets you to move you have already lost.
Nothing beats – a quiet GK with fast hands and perfect positioning.
Well said Cam! Thanks for that!
I’m a Highschool goalie and I drop to my knees more often than not if the shot is a straight low shot. I like to stay as still as possible until the ball is released to reduce wasted movement. Most of the time if I stay on my feet I find myself guessing and not making a clean save if I get my stick on it. I don’t practice one way over another it’s just more instinct depending on the shot. If it’s a low side arm shot I like to stay on my feet as long as possible. At the end of the day I feel like my position is to keep the ball out of the net, not try to start plays and be creative. If I’m stuck on my knees I find myself making passes from my knees since that’s something I have practiced doing if I’m in that situation.