Q&A With Notre Dame Lacrosse Goalie Shane Doss
By Coach Damon on June 19, 2016
Shane Doss is the current starting lacrosse goalie for Notre Dame and in case you haven’t heard of him, he’s one of the top lax goalies in the NCAA right now.
As a sophomore in 2015 he helped lead Notre Dame to the semifinals of the NCAA national championship where they were eliminated by eventual champs Denver in OT. He also pitched a shutout that year – zero goals given up in a game against #15 ranked Ohio State. On national TV no less.
This year as a junior he led Notre Dame to the quarterfinals where they were eliminated by eventual champs UNC.
This past weekend Shane did an AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit where he answered a slew of goalie related questions and shared his general knowledge with the folks about Notre Dame and lacrosse.
He did the AMA to promote the club program he’s working with this summer so be sure to check them out here – Blue Star Lacrosse.
Here is a recap of the most insightful questions and answers from his AMA. For a few of the answers I add some additional thoughts.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for new goalies? Specifically at the high school level.
SD: For new goalies I’d say play as much as possible and learn from as many different goalies as possible.
Ask a ton of questions from guys with more experience and adopt the techniques that work for you.
When did you start the recruiting process?
SD: I started playing for a summer club team after 6th grade, but my first recruiting event was the Nike Blue Chip camp the summer going in to sophomore year.
After that I got some letters in the mail and then it just went on from there.
What is the best way to promote positioning and footwork when coaching a goalkeeper who struggles with things like that?
To build on this, 45 degree forward step or lateral steps? This seems to be a hot topic these days.
SD: Great questions. I think footwork is all about repetitions and muscle memory. The Walk the Line drill is great for just drilling those movements so that in games, when you need to focus on the ball, the stepping part is automatic.
For positioning I might consider filming the goalie to show him what the shooter is seeing so he can understand how important it is.
As far as 45 degree vs lateral, different things work for different goalies. Ideally 45 degrees is better because you are meeting the ball, which helps with bounce shots and cutting off the shot angle.
But shooters are getting their shots so fast these days that you might not have time for that, and just need to step lateral.
I definitely do both at different times, so I’d say its situational. At the end of the day, a save is a save.
Great season this year. When did you start playing lacrosse? Any plans to keep playing after college or just sticking to the blue star lacrosse league?
SD: I started playing on Sundays in 2nd grade – I hated it, but my mom kept me going and eventually I fell in love with it.
I’ll probably never stop playing, whether its in men’s leagues or wherever possible. At least as long as my body allows me to.
Do you have any tips for flinching last second?
SD: That’s a tough one that a lot of kids struggle with. There is a drill where you tie a short string from your stick head to your helmet and then have someone shoot on you with tennis balls. It forces you to follow your stick with your head.
That might help – otherwise maybe wearing more pads will help you build up some confidence to watch the ball and not flinch.
What does the average day in fall ball and in the spring season look like?
SD: In fall ball we practice three times a week and lift three times. Practice is a lot of scrimmaging and full field drills to get our team chemistry going and get every one playing their best.
In the spring there is a lot more game preparation: watching film, running through scouting reports, and playing six on six against a scout team that runs the opponent’s offense.
I’m a rising senior goalie that is looking to get recruited. I’ve reached out to coaches and sent film but is there anything I should be doing to ensure or raise my chances of getting recruited?
SD: Seems like you’re on the right track already. Make sure your grades are as good as possible – that always helps.
Otherwise just keep playing your hardest, and if the offers don’t come that’s ok.
There are a ton of really cool options to play whether its club or walking on to a team; I wouldn’t panic if things don’t go the way you expect them to.
What is your pre-game warm up like? I am always looking to find new things for my goalie to do before and after they take shots.
SD: I have my coach walk an arc and shoot for one spot each time across the arc. Once we do all 6 spots and bouncers we just mix it up to all spots until I feel good.
Then right before the face off our other goalies feed from behind and the coach shoots a little harder to any spot. We try to emphasize shooting the way our opponents shoot for that game.
Coach Damon: Before jumping into the cage I like to get the body warmed up by jumping rope and get the reaction time and hand/eye coordination working with the goalie lead hand drill. Then I take the shots like Shane describes.
Hey there Shane. I have a goalie, high school, who took a really bad shot last season and since then has slowed his progression as a player.
He knows it and has been trying to work through it this past season but to no avail and nothing I have done has helped easier. Any insight on ways I can help get him back on his horse?
SD: You might want to try using tennis balls to have him build his confidence back up. No shame in that – I do it all the time.
Another thing might be using visualization or meditation, because it seems like a mental problem. There are a bunch of great techniques online that might help. That is a tough one though.
Coach Damon: One thing I’d add – make sure the goalie is fully padded up. Who cares if teammates give him crap. The additional padding will help him mentally. Once he starts showing progress again you can remove the additional padding if you want. I created a goalie gear guide here that shows all standard and optional lacrosse gear.
I’m always looking for drills to do solo, wall ball routines, and/or drills to promote stepping to the ball on shots. Would love advice on any or all of those! You’re the man.
SD: Thanks man! Walking the line is a great one for stepping. Doing things solo is tough though – there’s a point where you just need a shooter. I’d say just playing a lot of wall ball is great for hand eye coordination – you can even use a short stick to make it tougher. Goalies should be the best at wall ball on the whole team honestly.
Coach Damon: In addition to what Shane listed, let me add a few more drills here that goalies can do by themselves. There’s actually a surprising number of drills (13!) that goalies can do solo. I linked up each drill to another post where you’ll find a description of how to perform the drill.
Also here’s my wall ball routine for goalies.
Do you ever start to feel less passionate about the game? Almost burned out after the season? What makes you keep coming back?
SD: I think everyone needs a break at times. Things can get frustrating and the fun kind of disappears.
But whenever I’m away for a little the drive to play just comes right back. I’m not sure why, it’s just always been there for me.
The feeling of winning a game or making a save just never gets old.
What would it take to walk on to a D1 team?
SD: Depends on the team, but it’s very hard. You have to prove to the coach that he needs you – its not a charity.
Having talent is important, but having the intangibles like hard work and showing that to him will go along way to helping you make it.
Something I’ve always wondered about Notre Dame, do you have any players on the team that are not Catholic/Christian or even openly atheist?
SD: We have guys from all different backgrounds – religion isn’t a requirement by any means.
Is white the easiest color ball to see? What’s the hardest color?
SD: Any color is fine as long as it’s a new ball. Dirty ones are really hard to see.
How did you handle difference between high school and college ball as a goalie, and what was the hardest part?
SD: Toughest part was probably the shot quality and game speed.
You have to get used to the fact that you’re going to get scored on a lot early on. Once you get over that and get comfortable then you can start to build up your confidence.
How should I talk to my coach without being disrespectful when I feel like I’m better than the starting goalie and should be the one who is starting?
SD: Hey man – thats a tough one and something a lot of goalies have to deal with.
There is nothing wrong with telling him flat out that you were frustrated or disappointed – that shows that you really care and want to help your team win.
I agree that you should be respectful, but try to understand his reasoning and ask what you can do to earn his trust. If he is not willing to work with you on it, then that is just bad coaching. But if he has a reason, even if you disagree with it, then you should do everything you can to fix that.
Goalie is a tough position because only one can play at a time, thats just the way it is.
That was really cool of Shane Doss to share his goalie knowledge with the Reddit community. He is one of the top goalies in the game today (especially in the NCAA) and its always great to hear and learn from the greatest goalies in our game.
I was out of town this weekend and was bummed to realize the AMA was over before I got to participate. However reading through the questions and answers from Shane was incredibly insightful.
I hope you enjoyed my recap.
Until next time! Coach Damon
Any questions about any Shane Doss’s answers? Let me know in the comments.