Got the same question via email this week from a Midwest goalie coach and a goalie Dad who both wanted to know if I had any tricks for when goalies are dropping the head of their stick.
As we slowly develop some of our goalies here in the Midwest I’ve seen a number of them dipping their stick head when the shot goes off. Do you have any tricks or pearls to get them to stay focused on the ball without dipping their head down? – KP
Here’s the goalie Dad’s questions:
My son is a goalie and he doesn’t always like or listen to Dad’s suggestions. But if he has one weakness it’s when he’s faced with a step down shot from 5-7 yds. Instead of playing big and challenging the shooter, he stays on the goal line and tries to react. But he has a tendency to drop his hands and than react. Which is obviously to late and it’s in the net. Do you have a drill to work on keeping your hands high? Please let me know, thanks. Garnet
Here are some lacrosse goalie drills you can work into your goalie training in order to reduce the habit of a goalie dropping his hands pre-shot.
Shots Behind A Chain-Linked Fence
One drill I’ve been using lately was actually introduced to me by a reader of this blog who was taught by Coach Guy Van Arsdale, an All-American goalie.
We’ll call it “Chain Fence”. The goalie stands protected behind a chain link fence, with or without pads but I would usually keep the helmet and gloves on at a minimum (although we didn’t in this demo photo cause the chain link was super small).
I’ll fire shots at the goalie as hard as I can from very close and the goalie makes simulated saves. Focusing on the aggressive mindset and attacking the shot.
I think the fence helps the body understand that no pain is possible and therefore no fear is needed. As you repeat shot after shot with no fear, the body starts to detach fear from shot.
Without the threat of pain, the goalie is free to simply focus on the shot and release point.
This helps the goalie develop a no fear mindset and helps them attack that ball once the chain link fence is no longer there.
Here’s a drill I picked up from the TCM Lacrosse guys.
The drill involves placing a table underneath your hands and doing some reps.
One thing I would add to this drill is someone firing a shot, or at least winding up to take one.
As I mentioned above the dropping hands habit is often the result of fearing the shot and by seeing that big wind up on the shot we can attempt to trigger those feelings and work the habit out of our system.
Shots With A Nerf Ball
A great drill to eliminate the fear response is another I learned from Coach Buck. It’s called “Nerf Ball”.
Again this drill can be used to remove the association of fear and shot. They’re nerf balls, they don’t hurt.
Even with the nerf balls you’ll find beginning goalies can still flinch or go into turtle mode in this drill. Work that out of their system.
They should be calm and focused on the ball’s release in this drill.
Here’s is Coach Buck’s video of that drill:
I’ve yet to find exact type of nerf ball Coach Buck uses but I’ve used these nerf golf balls with success for this drill.
In this drill we’ll connect our top hand to the helmet with a lanyard (or a handcuffs).
You connect your top hand to your helmet. Thus training your head to get behind the shot as well.
But this drill also as the additional benefit of training you not to drop your hands pre-shot.
Because if you instinctively drop your hands pre-shot, you’re going to pull your helmet downwards.
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.