Training a Lacrosse Goalie In Just 4 Drills
This week’s post is my response to an interesting question I got from a lax goalie rat Dad:
If you could only use 4 lacrosse drills to train a goalie which would you select? Jim R., Baltimore, MD
Great question Jim! There are so many great lacrosse goalie drills that only being able to select from a few is a tough task.
But in this world of Jim’s where a goalie must be trained with no more than 4 drills this is what I’d do.
Training a Lacrosse Goalie with Just 4 Drills
If you read my post about the elite lacrosse goalie triad, you already understand my philosophy when it comes to training goalies.
That philosophy states that an elite lacrosse goalie must master 3 areas:
So as I select just 4 drills to train a goalie I need to ensure that all elements are being covered in the goalie’s development.
Here are the 4 drills I would select:
This will cover our physical element. Jumping rope will get the goalie into shape and develop the quickness necessary to explode to a shot.
Anyone competing in sports that involve coordination, fast feet, speed, agility and power can gain athleticism by training with a jump rope.
A goalie’s hands and feet must work together to make a save. While skipping rope, your hands control the rope, but your feet must consistently jump over it. This repetitive activity helps you coordinate your hand and foot movements.
Jumping rope is so beneficial for a goalie that it should be in every goalie’s training regimen. Consequently it’s one of the four goalie drills I’d select.
Get yourself a jump rope and get to work.
Goalie Lead Hand Drill (Egg Toss)
Even at the top levels of lacrosse (MLL and NCAA) you will see goalies perform this drill before a game and at half time.
Why? Because it reinforces the perfect save technique.
It reinforces our top hand to the ball, it reinforces lead step and trail step, and it reinforces our ridiculous concentration on the ball.
This drill will suffice for covering the technical elements of making a save. There’s other concepts I’d like to cover here but with only 4 drills to pick from I’d go with the classic drill.
Feel free to add variations to the drill (Sorry Jim – hopefully this is within the rules). Here’s one variation using resistance bands to build up strength in your explosion to the ball.
Other variations of goalie lead hand drill:
- Bouncers with a Reaction Ball.
- Use a Q Ball and shout out letter as soon as you see it.
- Use different colored tennis balls and shout out color as soon as you see it.
While working this drill I’m teaching the goalie the proper save technique. With enough repetition the perfect save movement should become second nature with enough of this drill.
Lacrosse goalies are unique from ice hockey goalies in that we attempt to make saves by catching the shot, whereas ice hockey goalies block the shot.
So every lacrosse goalie must learn to throw and catch. Sometimes you see attackman jump into goal for the 1st time and do surprisingly well. Why? Because they already have those stick skills and hand-eye coordination that comes with hours of wall ball.
Improving your stick skills will improve your save ability. That’s why we’re including wall ball as one of the four drills.
Regular wall ball sessions will also improve your hand-eye coordination and outlet passes, two critical elements to a dominate goalie’s game.
We can also do some variations in our wall ball routine like the Doc Drill. Again sorry Jim if variations weren’t in your mind but I’m going with it.
There’s nothing that can prepare a goalie for shots…other than taking shots.
You can do all the drills you want but the experience of being on the receiving end of a Sergio Perkovic step down crank shot is only replicated by taking shots.
Even if you’re opponent doesn’t shoot like Sergio you have to get accustomed to seeing shots.
Lacrosse goalies have to the deal with fear and the turtle. And that is only trained out of the body via repetition.
So my final drill for training a goalie in just 4 drills is: shots.
It’ll differ for each goalie but as a general rule I’d follow a shot routine as outlined in my post on the perfect warmup.
The Mental Game
You’ll notice that there’s no specific drills which cover the final piece of the elite goalie triad: the mental game.
That’s because the mental game is something I’m working on with every goalie during the other drills.
Sometimes as a lacrosse goalie coach you need be a motivator to help the goalie staying focused, stay positive, and stay determined.
Other times you need to be a disciplinarian to help the goalie up their mental game.
Whatever it is, every goalie drill is learning opportunity to increase the mental aspect of playing this position.
Read more about the mental side of playing goalie.
Really cool question from Jim, thanks again for writing in. With so many goalie drills available at our disposal the idea of limiting drills is something that few of us think about.
Usually variety is the spice of life when it comes to training a lacrosse goalie. And for good measure since this position can get repetitive real quick and its nice to keep things varied.
But if you only could select 4 drills to train a lacrosse goalie, those are the ones I’d go with. I cheated a little by adding in some variations of the 4 drills but so it goes.
I guess if a goalie coach or parent wants a super simple goalie training routine, there it is.
- Jump Rope
- Goalie Lead Hand Drill
- Wall Ball
Until next time! Coach Damon
Which 4 drills would you select to train a goalie if you had to just use 4? Leave me a comment down below.