Among the differences that female lacrosse goalies encounter is the special play called the 8-meter shot.
If a female ball carrier is fouled inside the 8 meter arc, she gets a free position shot at the closest hash on the arc. All defenders located inside the arc at the time of the foul are also positioned on the closest spot on the arc but always at least 4 yards away from the shooter.
For the Lax Goalie Rat podcast I recently spoke with Team USA goalie Liz Hogan (episode coming soon!!) who broke down her approach on how to best make saves on 8-meter shots.
What’s the strategy? What are some techniques you can do to increase your save percentage?
Read the Situation
Your first step is to read the entire situation. This will help dictate how we setup.
So what pieces of information are you looking for?
On which hash is the shooter setup?
Where are your defenders located?
Where are the offensive teammates located?
Who has the ball?
The more towards the center hash a ball carrier is located the more of a threat to shoot they are.
If the ball carrier is surrounded by defenders you know she likely cannot maneuver left or right and you can a take a little more aggressive approach with a higher arc.
On the contrary, if no defenders are close to the ball carrier during the restart the shooter can maneuver left or right before firing a shot and thus we don’t want to be as aggressive in our arc for fear of being caught out of position as the ball carrier might be able to advance all the way to the crease.
If there is only a single defender on one side, you know the ball carrier will not dodge in that direction and can be better prepared.
If you know the offense’s top scorer has the ball you can fully expect a shot. If a role player starts with the ball while an open offensive player is close to the goal you can expect a pass.
Understanding all these elements will help you be prepared once that whistle blows. Increasing your chance of saving the 8-meter shot.
Each free position shot is a little different in terms who has the ball, where they’re starting from, and where your defenders are located. So be sure to take it all in prior to the whistle to best know how to defend the play.
The 8-meter shot for a goalie is similar to a free throw for a basketball player.
Going through the same routine prior to shooting a free throw was scientifically proven to increase your chances of making the shot!
While the same study hasn’t been done in the women’s lacrosse world, I can pretty much guarantee you the results would also be true. Pre-shot (or pre-save) routines work!
Lady goalies who go through the same physical routine prior to a shot will make more saves.
Each pre-save routine is unique to the goalie. Your pre-save routine could be any combination of the following:
Turn and face the goal
Checking the pipes
Squatting down and jumping up
Hitting your facemask with your shaft
Yelling a positive affirmation
The list goes on and on.
The pre-save routine will also help block those distracting thoughts that interfere with your performance. Things like crowd noise, fans waving their arms, worrying about giving up a goal, thoughts of past misses, the score, teammates, spectators or parents.
By focusing on your pre-save routine, you normalize the free position shot. You lessen the sense of pressure you feel and take your mind off of that fear of missing the save and giving up a goal.
In this way the pre-save routine will help you mentally as much as it does physically.
So develop your own pre-save routine and put it into action before every 8-meter shot. This will increase your chances of making the save.
Direct the Defense
As a goalie, remember you are the leader of the defense.
So you need to ensure that all defenders know their roles during the restart play.
Who is going to cover the ball? Who is going to cover an open attack player? Who is going to chase an errant shot?
All this type of communication can and should occur prior to the shot and as a goalie its imperative that you, and every single defender, are on the same page once that whistle blows.
Practice 8-Meters When Tired
Growing up I had a basketball coach that said – anyone can hit a free throw when they’re fresh. I want players who can sink the shot with 0:01 on the clock after running up and down the court for 45 minutes.
The point here is making a save is easier when you’re fresh and 100% mentally alert.
But when your body gets tired and you start to lose it a little mentally, the saves become tougher and tougher.
So be sure to practice taking a few 8-meter situations at the end of practice when your body is tired.
Or run a few sprints right before the whistle blows to start the restart the 8-meter to simulate being the end of game scenario.
This will help train your body and mind to make the save in the 4th quarter with 0:01 on the clock.
Scout Players if You Can
I find that many female lacrosse players make the same moves over and over again on 8-meter restarts.
Even just knowing whether they fire on the whistle, take 1-2 step and then fire, or prefer to dodge as close to goal as possible before shooting can aid us in being better prepared to make the save.
If you don’t have video or a scouting report on the team your playing, it’s not the end of the world. But any piece of information we can use to better increase our chances of saving an 8-meter should be used.
8-Meter Shot Saves
Check out this compilation of saves I made by female goalies off of 8-meter plays.
Based on the position of ballcarrier and the defenders try to guess what the attacker is going to do prior to the whistle.
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7 thoughts on “Women’s Goalie Guide to 8 Meter Shots”
Great piece, as usual. One thing I have my daughter do on these, especially those from the right side hashmarks, is bait a little. She’s a lefty, so I have her shade a righty shooter on their left hip, giving space to her stick-side. But on the whistle, she steps at a 45 degree to the shooter’s right, (her left), closing the stickside a little and creating some doubt in the shooter. The motion, has the shooter delay or re-think her shot, mid-take.
We made this change about halfway through the year this year and her success rate jumped from less than 20% to over 60%. She had a streak of stopping 10 for 13 over a 3 game stretch. In one game, the opponent was 1 for 6 on these shots and it helped her team get a 1 goal win.
Shots head on, or from the left side or with lefty shooters, we do things a little different, but the idea is always the same – appear to give something before the whistle, take it away at the whistle, forcing the shooter to re-think their shot – without messing up the basics, good stance, good stick, attack the shooter, be aggressive.
This might not work once she gets to high-school or college, (should she be good enough), but its working in youth and it helps confidence!
Thanks Ross. Thanks for adding those tips too….good stuff! I like it.
Coach Damon somewhat related question, my daughter is a high school sophomore and starting varsity goalie. In a recent game she make a save. After she had made the save one of her defenders who had been beat on the shot got over zealous and shoved the shooter down which caused an 8 meter free position foul. Luckily my daughter save that shot as well. My question from a stats standpoint is does the first save count since the foul happened after the save and it was more of a change of possession?
Yeah first save counts. I mean if she didn’t make the save they would have waived the penalty and counted the goal. So save definitely counts!
Hi, I am currently the varsity starting goalie for my town. I was wondering what you would recommend on 8 meter shots with the new CSA rule. I have been letting up a lot of shots as instead of shots from to 8 or 7 meters away they are 3 to 5 meters away with no defense. It is really hurts our season records and my save %.
What would you recommend to change or try during those shots?
Love you blog by the way. Have been following it for years and so many of your post have helped me improve my game.
What is a decent percentage of 8 meter shots an offensive player should make, say something comparable to a basketball player making 70% of their foul shots?
Tough to say since each 8 meter is really different depending on starting point and location of all the defenders. Not like a free throw that’s the same everytime. But all the things being equal the normal save % of 50-60 is good in my opinion.