Today we’re going to be breaking down the play of MLL All-Star goalie Adam Ghitelman to pull out the pieces of knowledge that can help beginning and intermediate goalies improve.
In the video we’re going to analyze he’s wearing a GoPro camera which means we don’t even see his save technique. So the analysis of this post is purely about communication and the mental aspects of playing this position.
Here’s the full video of Adam playing goalie in the 2012 Ocean City Tournament. This is a tournament with some of the best competition in the world including none other than our star of this post –
First Rule of Lacrosse: Have Fun
The first thing I noticed when watching this video of Adam Ghitelman was how much fun he’s having playing goalie.
Keep in mind this is the championship game of a major tournament. While maybe the stakes aren’t as high as an NCAA or MLL game, my point is that this game does have importance and yet Adam is playing with pure joy.
You can hear it in his tone of voice. You can hear it in his pre-game banter. You can hear it in the weird/awesome noises he makes after saves (like 1:15 reeereeereere and 1:30 ahhhh yeah baby).
He loves this game and he’s having fun playing it.
I’ve said this before on this blog, but when you’re having fun, you play your best lacrosse.
As goalies we need to play loose; we need to play with abandon and experience the ferocious joy that lead us into the sport to begin with.
When we’re having fun we stop overthinking and instead rely upon on our goalie training and fully perform to the best of our ability without hesitation or second-guessing.
Having fun reinforces and supports all the habits of mind and body that players develop. Neurologically when a person is unconsciously engrossed in an activity that engages and satisfies them, their brain lights up in a very different way than when they are worried or hesitating or thinking about what they are supposed to do.
On the other side of the coin, when a goalie is NOT having fun, they’re going to be playing tight.
The tightness reduces your physical talents and sabotages all those hours you’ve spent training.
A goalie who is not having fun may be thinking too hard about what they are doing; this act of thinking slows them down and complicates reactions.
And in a game of milliseconds, even the slightest of hesitation equals balls zipping by your stick and into the goal.
Remember at the end of the day, lacrosse is just a game. So have fun while you play and notice how contagious you become.
High Amount of Talk
Notice how much Ghitelman is communicating with his defense? Throughout the entire video he’s talking.
If you feel like he’s talking too much, I’ve got news for you goalie. You’re not talking enough.
If you uploaded a GoPro video of yourselfplaying goalie, your goal is to get this type of comment:
His goalie communication is not just timely but the tone matches the urgency of the situation perfectly.
Rewatch the possession starting at 3:31 and notice how much communication is going on. And then at 3:39 notice the change in urgency of his voice as he wants his team to slide/rotate.
Being a great communicator on defense is a main reason why Adam Ghitelman is such a great lax goalie.
Detailed Video Breakdown of Adam Ghitelman
Now I want to pull out some specific lessons from the video. Here are my thoughts as I watched this video:
0:16 Offense: “What happens if I hit the camera?” / Ghitelman: “It’s a save”
Ultimate goalie mentality haha. Who cares what you have to do to get those saves.
0:31 – “Shot!” / 3:01 “Shot!”
When I played basketball growing up our coaches taught us to yell “Shot” every time the player we were defending fired a shot.
As a goalies we must train ourselves to do the same thing.
Remember not everyone on the defense has an eye on the ball at all times. So the “shot” call serves to let them know what’s going on.
As you go through your pregame warmup train yourself to yell “Shot” on every shot.
At first it will be difficult to remember, but you have to build this habit. Soon it will become an embedded habit and executing in the game without thinking will be no problem.
1:23 – “Hey, that’s the defense’s goal right there! Great stop in transition.”
Goals are not merely a time for the offense to celebrate, it’s time for the entire team to celebrate. Part of being a good leader on the defense side is giving praise where praise is due.
So if your defense made a great stop that lead to a fast break goal for your team, don’t be bashful about giving your guys props.
2:00 “Hey John / John stay left John”
Throughout the video you’ll hear Adam Ghitelman directing his defense.
With our unique point of view from the goal we can left our own players know if their defensive positioning is good.
Here Ghitelman is telling John to “stay left” or adjust his position to his left so that he doesn’t get beat over the top.
2:15 “You’re good, he’s a righty. He wants his right real bad. I see that Canadian sticker on your helmet”
Reminding your team of the scouting report is an important part of leading the defense.
If you know a player wants to go a certain direction or is looking simply to pass, alert your defense at every opportunity so they can remember and adjust their defensive approach.
Adam also throws in a little trash talk here: “I see that Canadian sticker on your helmet”. Which doesn’t really make sense because if anything Canadians are known for tremendous stick skills with both their right and their left.
But hey, who said trash talk needed to be logical.
2:58 “Still got it”
This is a defensive term I always used and one that Ghitelman uses here. It’s a good one so I’m going to add this my list of common defensive terms.
More and more we’re seeing offensive players throw these big fakes. Some defenders can easily get confused if they passed the ball or not, especially given they don’t have 100% focus on the ball.
Therefore, anytime an offensive player throws a big fake like this and the goalie sees that he still has the ball, let out the “still got it” call.
Studying the lacrosse goalie greats is an excellent way to up your own game. And Adam Ghitelman is definitely one our position’s greats.
In this video session we’re not so much focused on save technique as we are on attitude and defensive communication. In fact his Warrior Nemi 2 only pops into the frame a few times on saves.
A great goalie is a defense leader. The right combination of attitude and communication will earn you the respect of your teammates.
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