Tips for Playing Lacrosse Games in the Snow | Lax Goalie Rat

Tips for Playing Lacrosse Games in the Snow

Two weeks ago I was watching my (pitiful) 49ers take on the Bears in Chicago and my word, did it look cold. It was snowing during the entire game.

While lacrosse is technically a spring sport many goalies, especially our northeastern brothers, are all too familiar that temperatures can stay well below freezing with snow until April or May.

Growing up playing lacrosse in California I never had to deal with snow on our home turf, however we would occasionally encounter a snow game if we traveled to face BYU (BY-who?) or Colorado/Colorado St. early in the season.

Here are some tips I’ve picked up from my playing and coaching days that will help goalies adjust to playing snow games.

Extreme Focus

A goalie shouldn’t require a snow game to exhibit extreme focus but it is absolutely required in a snow game.

Whether there is snow on the ground or simply a bank of snow on the sidelines, the fact is the ball is harder to see in a snow game and that’s going to make the goalie’s job more difficult.

This phenomenon is also present in venue’s like the University of Michigan’s Oosterbaan Field House which is an indoor stadium with white walls and roof.

When the ball is harder to see, our focus needs to be taken to another level. Never let your eyes leave the ball, even when it’s on your own offensive half.

Maintain that extreme focus when your team is playing defense.

Use a Colored Ball

During snow games both teams have the right to request a colored ball. If both sides agree, an orange or yellow ball can be used in place of a white one.

This makes the ball easier to see against the background of white snow.

LacrosseSnowColoredBall

And as a lacrosse goalie, seeing the ball is pretty much required. So request that the white balls get swapped out for colored lacrosse balls.

Whatever ball you end up going with make sure that your team practices with that same color ball throughout the week so that the goalie can get accustomed to seeing that color against the snow backdrop.

Use Eye Black

If the sun is out during a snow game you’re going to get a ton of reflection.

Eye black can help ease the reflection and improve a goalie’s site and concentration. As a side benefit, it makes you look like a warrior when done the right way.

Eye Black in the Snow

If you’ve never used eye black before I’d recommend using it for a few practices. It definitely gives your eyes a different feel and I wouldn’t want any goalie to experience it for the 1st time right before a game.

Get accustomed to the eye black in practice first, then use it in the games.

If you don’t like eye black you can also use the brim of your lacrosse helmet to try to block out the glare.

Stay Warm

When your own offense has the ball there isn’t much activity for a lacrosse goalie.

On a cold snow day, it’s really easy for a goalie to get cold. And cold muscles don’t respond as quickly as warm ones.

Lucky for us, goalies can wear sweatpants while in the cage so I’d definitely recommend using them during snow games.

Also long sleeve shirts are a must. Depending on what’s comfortable for you, you could also try a hooded sweatshirt underneath the jersey and chest protector.

Special thanks to reader Bob Nelson who pointed out a few more cold weather tips from his days playing games in Central NY:

The hand warmers they sell for skiing or snowboarding will help keep your hands warm underneath your gloves. Keep your feet warm in your cleats. And you could even put a pair on your shoulders to help provide some warmth up there.

Another highly recommend piece of cold gear are those ski caps or the skull caps NFL players use. are a must under the helmet.

Finally you’ll want to invest in several great pairs of warm breathable winter socks. These speciality socks will help keep your feet warm and dry. Get 2 pairs and change them up during half time.

This isn’t a fashion show. Anything that you can put on that will keep you warm and not restrict your movement is fair game.

During the half time period if you don’t have a warm place to go, like an indoor locker room, be careful about being too idle. We want our bodies to stay warm and sitting still in freezing cold temperatures will hinder performance.

The idea is we want to stay warm throughout the game as that will increase our performance.

Stay Hydrated

When you’re running around on the lacrosse field during a hot sunny day it’s not too hard to remember to drink water. You’re body practically begs for it.

However on a cold snow day water is the last thing on a goalie’s mind.

But it’s still equally as important.

So whether its 80 degrees and sunny or 15 degrees and snowing be sure to hydrate.

Goalies are permitted to stash a water bottle in the back of the goal to grab drinks from while the ball is on the other end of the field.

Bring out the Vaseline

A jar of Vaseline is an old trick from veteran players to block out the wind.

If you can’t cover up every part of your body with sleeves, rub vaseline on the exposed body parts including your face.

It sounds a little ridiculous, it’s slimy, and it takes some time to scrub off after the game but it sure does work – cutting down wind chill factor and keeping you warm.

Post Game Stick Maintenance

After playing a game in the snow the moisture can cause damage to your pocket if you just throw it in the closet.

Goalies, like everyone else, need to take a few minutes to perform some stick maintenance after a snow or after a rain game.

Here are the steps that I always followed after a rain game:

  1. Clean off any excess mud or dirt right away – Use a hose to clean off dirt and mud from the head and pocket. It’s even ok to use soap to ensure all the mud is off. Since the mesh is already wet before we start the drying process we want to ensure there’s no mud or dirt remaining on the stick.
  2. Fill pocket with newspapers or an absorbent towel – Crumple up a bunch of single sheets of newspaper and stuff them into the pocket of your stick. The paper will help absorb the water. In place of newspapers you could also use a small towel.
  3. Pound the pocket with your glove or hand to reform the pocket.
  4. Store the stick overnight with a heavy lacrosse ball and the newspapers in the pocket.
  5. After the stick dries, the mesh will stiffen so be sure to pound the pocket again and throw with it to re-break it in.

If you don’t put in work to maintain your stick your outlet passes will suffer and you’ll give up a ton of rebounds.

Lacrosse in the Snow: Video

Here is Coach Bill Pilat discussing his tips and drills for lacrosse goalies playing games in the snow.

Lacrosse Goalie Drills for the Snow

If you’re wondering what are some drills or exercises you can do indoors to improve your goalie game while there are a few feet of snow outside, here are some possibilities.

Just about every drill in this lacrosse goalie drill post could be done indoors with enough space.

This set of unconventional drills to improve hand-eye coordination could also be performed indoors.

With the exception of taking shots, there are lots of drills and exercises that don’t require an outdoor field, so get creative and don’t let a little snow stop you from improving your goalie game.

OldSchoolLacrosseSnow

Conclusion

Snow games can be difficult for lacrosse goalies who are not accustomed to them.

However, using these 6 tips you can improve your game in the snow:

  1. Extreme Focus
  2. Use a Colored Ball
  3. Eye Black
  4. Stay Warm
  5. Care for your stick
  6. Hydrate

Or you can always come out to California to play lax in the MCLA.

Until next time! Coach Damon

Any other tips for playing goalie in the snow? Leave a comment down below. 

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3 thoughts on “Tips for Playing Lacrosse Games in the Snow

  1. In Central NY, we play in lots of snow, and not just banks of it piled around the field. A couple other tricks we’ve used: hand warmers in the back of your gloves (so it warms your hands without affecting your grip) and wrapped around the small of your back. We use elastic bandages; the theory is that it warms the blood as it goes through your kidneys, which warms the rest of your body. Under your shoulder pads is another good spot to use the hand warmers. Ski caps or the skull caps NFL players use are a must under the helmet. Several guys have wooden shafts that are warmer than all the new hi-tech metal shafts. Many guys use latex medical gloves and plastic bags on their hands and feet, respectively, but both produce sweat and sweat creates colder extremities. We’ve found that hunting/fishing socks are warm and dry, especially if you have time to change your socks at halftime. (We usually skip halftime ’cause we want to keep moving). Actually, you’ll have better luck shopping at a hunting store than a lacrosse store. You may not look so cool, but you’ll feel better. And when temperatures get well below freezing, referees look the other way and allow players to use whatever type of leggings that will keep them warm, regardless of color. Again, use the stuff made for hunters, trappers, snowmobilers, etc. A bigger problem is dehydration because kids don’t drink as much in cold weather, so we push the water and sports drinks. Of course, it’s always nice if a team mom makes a run for hot chocolate at half time! And as you said, try all this in practice so you don’t end up with a hand warmer sliding someplace it shouldn’t.

    1. Great tips Bob! Sounds like you’ve played your fair share of games in the snow. I’m going to revise my post to include a bunch of your tips for playing the snow. I appreciate that. Damon

  2. This is an excellent blog post to learn to sport. I found all of my answer from this blog”How can I prepare for any kinds of games on the snow?”. I really appreciate your blog, for this reason, Bookmark it on my favorite list. please keep it up.

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