These should the 1st drills a beginning lacrosse goalie masters.
It’s amazing how without a stick goalies will get the hang of moving their top hand directly to the ball. But once a stick is in their hands, all of sudden we start doing big rotating movements on off-stick shots and moving our top hand in a semi-circle. The stick is evil my friends.
It’s extremely important for lacrosse goalie coaches to correct this bad habit. We want our top hand to move in a straight line directly to the ball.
Now the goalie doesn’t think about 7 different shots – we simply think Top Hand Straight to the Ball.
For shots that come to our off-stick hip and below we’ll need to rotate our wrist (clockwise for righties, counter-clockwise for lefties) to make the catch. However, even though we’re rotating our wrist the rule of – top hand straight to the ball – still applies. Make sure your top hand is still going straight to the ball even with the wrist rotating.
That will cover us for every type of shot and it’s a much simpler way to think about lacrosse saves.
The ideal part of our body to get to the ball is the hand. The hand controls the head of our stick.
As we throw our top hand at the ball, we’re going to use our body to give it support.
We’ll find that if we support our hand with our body we can get our hand to where it needs to be faster. We’ll also put our body in position to help with a save in the event we miss the ball with our hand/stick.
So we’ll combine our lead hand with a lead step.
The simplest way to the describe the lead step is whatever side the ball is shot on, that side becomes the lead foot.
Drawing a line perpendicular to the ground down the center of body. If the shot is the left of the line, we step with our left foot. If the shot is to the right of the line, we step with our right foot. This is our lead step.
The shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line, so we should be stepping such that we meet the ball at a 90 degree angle. This usually means our step will be at a 45 degree angle however it depends on which type of goalie arc we’re using.
Our lead step should be slightly wider than where the shot is going so that we get our body behind the ball. In the event we miss the ball with our hand, our body will be there to make the save.
Lead Hand / Lead Step
Putting those two movements together is the basis of our simple method of thinking about saves. Lead Hand / Lead Step.
I repeat this phase constantly as I work with my goalies to drill it into their mind.
When you watch video of yourself making saves, if you pause the tape at the moment you make contact with the ball, the only things that have moved are your lead hand and lead foot.
Nothing else has moved until you make contact with the ball and then our trail step and bottom hand move to reset our position.
Trail Step and Bottom Hand
As lacrosse goalies we always want to start and finish every save in a balanced position.
As soon as we make a save, we should be in position to make another save in the event of a rebound.
That’s where our Trail Step and Bottom Hand movement comes into play.
The trail step will be done with our foot which is did not make the lead step. This trail step simply puts us back into a balanced position.
After you execute the trail step your feet should look just like they did before the shot – toes at the shooter, feet shoulder width apart, balanced.
Similarly after our Lead Hand movement we’ll move our bottom hand to get into a balanced position. For low shots, this means the bottom hand fires up as we finish rotating the stick. For high shots, this means our bottom hand moves under the top hand so we finish in a balanced position.
After our Lead Hand / Lead Step movement we want to move our other foot and other hand so that we finish the save in a nice balanced position.
Playing lacrosse goalie is a very demanding position.
In addition to being the leader of the defense and knowing all the right defensive terms to communicate, we must save shots traveling sometimes in excess of 90mph.
So to be an effective save machine, we need to simplify the task that is the lacrosse save.
Thinking about a save as Lead Hand / Lead Step is the best way of turning the complex process of making a save into a simple easily repeatable process.
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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.