Work these drills into your practice routine and watch your game drastically improve.
Without further ado, here’s the 12 lacrosse goalie drills for today –
For this drill we’ll put a lacrosse goal about 10 feet from a wall, with the goal face towards the wall.
The goalie stands in the goal, facing the wall without looking back.
Then we’ll have a teammate or coach shoot shots against the wall. The ball will ricochet against the wall and the goalie will need to react to the make the save.
This drill will improve the goalie’s reaction time and also work on their ability to make saves in close.
Shots should start off at a slower pace and then gradually increase once the goalie starts to get the hang of the drill. You can also decrease the goalie’s distance between him and the wall to make the drill more difficult.
As a coach or a goalie be sure to not get discouraged if balls enter the goal. The point of the drill isn’t to block every shot, its to see the ball and develop your reaction speed and ability to save shots at close range. As with every drill and game, don’t get frustrated if a ball goes in the goal.
Be sure to mix up the shot location (sides, corners, bounce shots) and also the shot origin (left side of goal / right side of goal).
Here is Scott Rodgers demonstrating the Mystery Shot drill, although he calls it the Blind Reaction Drill.
This drill comes from pro lax goalie and coach Brian “Doc” Dougherty. The Doc Drill works 3 important elements of a lacrosse save – move your top hand to the ball, moving your feet, clear vision of the ball.
For this drill we need a short stick, a wall, and a ball.
We’ll stand about 10-12 feet away from the wall and shoot the ball against the wall.
When the ball ricochets off the wall we’ll pretend like its a shot coming at us and make the save.
Remember our basic lacrosse save fundamentals – exploding our top hand to the ball, stepping with our lead foot, keeping our eyes on the shot the entire way, and then finishing in a balanced position, ready to make another save if need be.
Like the last drill, mix up the shot location (low / high, left / right).
After making a save, since we’re stepping at forward angle we’ll be moving closer to the wall with each shot. Rather than restarting the position just keep doing the drill until you’re closer and closer to the wall. Once you’re just a few feet from the wall, then reset to your starting position.
Here is a video of Doc demonstrating the drill:
Eye Focus Drill
Another drill from Doc, this one works our concentration and focus as we practice watching the ball all the way into the stick.
We’ll position our head directly over our toes looking down. Feet position doesn’t matter all that much.
With our top hand (our dominant hand) we’ll throw the ball very hard against the ground and then catch it with the same hand.
An alternative to this drill is keep your eyes focused in the same spot (in between our feet) but bounce the ball outside of our feet, off to the side.
This alternative will help us develop our peripheral vision.
Here is Doc demonstrating the Eyes Focus Drill:
Lacrosse Goalie Drill – Agility
For this agility drill we’ll place to lacrosse sticks or tape about 4 yards apart, parallel to one another.
Start straddling one stick, your partner rolls a lacrosse ball to the other side. The goalie shuffles his feet to reach the other stick and then picks up the ball and throws it back.
The partner then rolls the ball to the other side and the drill repeats.
Ensure the goalie is going past the sticks every time.
This drill is will work our conditioning and about 30 second reps should be good. Rest and then repeat.
There are two types of passes we’ll need to perfect in order to master the clearing game – the bullet pass and the lob pass.
For practicing the bullet pass we’ll mark a spot on a wall with chalk or tape. Then standing about 20-25 feet away from wall practice throwing a bullet pass to that exact spot on the wall.
Start at about 75% of your max strength to focus on accuracy at first. When you’re consistently hitting the spot on the wall, increase the bullet pass power until you reach 100% effort.
If you have a backup stick, be sure to take some reps with that stick as well so you have a clear understanding of your stick’s throwing ability.
To practice the lob pass, setup a large garbage can about 20-25 feet away and practice lobbing the ball into the can. Keep at the drill until you’re can consistently put the ball into the can.
These 2 passing drills are also excellent for those just restrung their goalie sticks and need to re-familiarize themselves with how it throws.
In my list of 8 advanced lacrosse drills I talked about a rapid fire drill using a pitching machine or tennis ball machine.
This version of Rapid Fire you can do with a coach or a teammate.
We’ll line up 30 lacrosse balls each around 15 yards from the cage.
For this drill the goalie will be making the save and then tossing the ball aside, don’t throw it back to the shooter.
The shooter meanwhile we’ll shoot one ball after another as quick as he can.
Get in our good stance quickly and consistently. Get set quickly and find the ball quickly and be able to react to shots.
Here is Trevor Tierney explaining and then also performing the drill:
Shots with a Feeder
This drill will help goalie quickly move from one side of their goalie arc to another.
We’ll need two shooters to do this simple drill. Each shooter is about 15 yards from the goal with one of the left side and the other on the right side.
The shooter will pass the ball to the other who will take a quick shot.
The goalie who is setup in his stance and on the arc for the shot will need to quickly move across his arc and quickly get into his ready stance in time to make the save for the shot.
Shots with a Rope
This drill will help goalie’s understand the angles game involved with playing lacrosse goalie.
We’ll get a long, thin rope (about 100 feet). Tie each end onto either goalpost.
The shooter then steps into the loop formed by the rope, wraps it around his waist and backs away from the goal until the rope is taut.
The rope will form a V between shooter and the goal.
The shooter will move around and take shots on the goalie as we would during a normal warmup.
The rope will give the goalie a visual reference of the angle that needs to be reduced by our lead step. It demonstrates where we should be setup on our arc and how are far we need to step cut down the angle.
Eventually through repetition of this drill, the goalies will better understand angles without the rope.
Pretty simple, this works on getting your hands to the target. This one may not seem like a lacrosse goalie drill however it does help our game.
Stand about 4-5 feet from a partner and have them throw the football to your while you’re in your stance.
Step to the ball, hands out and grab the football w/ both hands. The object is to catch the ball with both hands WHILE stepping to the ball, not having your body follow your hands.
This works on getting to the ball with your hands and feet moving together at the same time, which helps you make the save faster.
Return to your ready stance and take about 5-6 passes in each of the 7 spots.
Wall ball is a drill you can do when you’re on your own. All you need is a stick, a ball, and a wall.
Check the post linked above for a specific wall ball routine you can follow to develop your stick skills and hand-eye coordination.
Monkey In the Middle
Here’s a great drill from the All-Star lacrosse goalie Brian Phipps. It’s one of my favorite goalie drills for improving clears.
This drill also serves as a conditioning drill due to the amount of running involved.
If we have 3 goalies on your team, we’ll setup with 2 goalies acting as defenseman. If you only have 1 or 2 goalies, recruit some extra players or coaches to help with this drill.
The goalie running the drill (G1) will start with the ball and make an outlet pass to the defenseman (G2). G1 will then sprint over to the hash towards G2. G2 passes the ball back to G1. G1 makes a long pass to G3 and then sprints to the hash on the same side of the field as G3. G3 passes it back to G1 and the drill continues.
Run it for about 5 times through and then switch roles.
The drill looks like this:
G1 passes to a defenseman and then sprints to the hash in that direction.
Defenseman passes it back.
G1 passes to the other side of the field and sprints to the hash on that side.
Variations of this drill:
G1 simulates that an attackman is pressuring him and gives a face dodge before making the outlet pass
G1 carries the ball to mid-field before making the outlet pass
G2 can make a re-direct pass to G3, G1 still sprints to the other side
Add extra attackman to provide pressure on the goalies
Here is a video of Brian explaining the full drill. His explanation of catching the ball across your body at 2:51 is very good.
If you’re looking for even more lacrosse goalie drills, checkout these 2 posts:
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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.