A new year is upon us, but more importantly, the real outdoor lacrosse season is almost here!
Spring lacrosse is always highly anticipated, and some teams begin practice in just a few weeks! Girls and boys start dusting off their sticks and gloves, buying new shoes and getting fresh gear waiting to go on day one.
Are you part of this group? I hope not.
Everyone needs a break, but that break shouldn’t be too long. As goalies, we must consistently reinforce our skills, so when the first practice or tryouts start, we haven’t missed a beat and we start off with a BOOM! There should no dust on our gear.
For our unique position, we must work to keep our foot and hand speed, reaction time, eye-hand coordination and muscle memory sharp. We don’t want to lose our momentum.
If you’ve put in the time and work, you’re more prepared and ready for what’s to come. And that’s the best way to start a season: comfortable and confident when stepping in goal.
Have you recently seen shots? Played wall ball? Done footwork drills? If yes, you will have a leg up on those who haven’t put in the time. If you’re off to a slow start, know that IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO START (unless it’s the day before tryouts)! GET OUT THERE! Get back in the groove: Get your stickwork sharp, get your feet pumping through a speed ladder, have someone take shots on you. Find your goal, and kick your butt to achieve it!
Here just a few simple drills to help you get or stay on the right track. Most people know about these drills, but do not put them to good use. How you do the drill determines how much you gain from each.
- Take shots
This will always be the best way to stay sharp. Grab a couple of friends, call your coach. These are the people who care about you getting better. Make sure the person shooting does what YOU need them to do. It shouldn’t be a rip fest for them. If you need slower shots to get your body mechanics down or to get locked in on the ball, tell them. If you want them to bring the heat safely, tell them. If you need to work on shots on the run, tell them.
Don’t forget to ask for their feedback. If you had a hard time stopping a certain shot, ask them what they see. As goalies, we can learn so much from offensive players.
- “Down the Line/Walk the Line” drill
Take your time and go through each motion of each save. Concentrate on your stance, movement and mechanics. Go slow. Rushing through this drill will not help you get better; it will generate poor muscle-memory skills and poor focus.
- Wall ball or catch with a friend
Simple catch – Overhand, 60% with a goalie stick, 40% with a shorty (field stick). Find a target, hit your target.
The Kitchen Sink – Side-arm, underhand, behind the back, throw a fake then a pass, twisty, backwards flip or whatever else you can think of.
Make sure you use both strong hand and offhand to become a better lacrosse player.
Drill 2 (wallball only)
- With a shorty and a ball, stand 5-8 yards back from the wall
- Get your feet and legs in your ready stance
- Throw the ball heavy to your stick-side and lower on the wall, so the ball hits the wall first, then the ground
- Move and make the save
- Repeat off-side
You do not need a lot of wall space for this, and it is recommended this be done with even ground in front of the wall (gym floor, concrete).
If the ball is coming back to the middle of your body, you aren’t throwing it far enough outside of your body.
Make sure you focus, it’s more difficult than you think if you’re challenging yourself.
- Out-of-goal stickwork.
Can you get a strong ground ball and hit a middie breaking upfield? Grab a few friends, think about passes and plays you’ve made in practices and games and recreate them. If you don’t come out of the crease for any plays during the game, do it now and get comfortable with it! Get a ground ball behind the goal and throw it cross-field. Spring for a ball just outside the crease, and hit a short pass to a middie breaking up the middle.
5. Foot Speed Drills
Speed ladder. If you don’t know of any drills for the ladder, use Google, a trainer, a strength and conditioning coach, any sports coach, and your friends.
Plyometric drills. Four corner hops, box jumps.
- Hands drill/ball toss, no stick.
Anyone can help you with this, even someone who knows nothing about lacrosse or being a goalie. Get in your exact stance just as if you were holding your stick (no hands behind the back), and ask your helper to gently toss the ball to each shot location. Lock in on that ball and focus on driving your top hand quickly yet softly to the ball, and focus on proper body movement.
- Visualize. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a big game, playing your best. Not just stopping shots, but which moves you’re making to get these saves, how you are organizing your defense, and what you did to get a ground ball and start a fast break.
Yes, it’s cold outside this time of year. It might be colder when your season begins, so you’ll need to get used to it. Coaches won’t feel bad for you. You’ll still have to perform. If there is snow on the field, search for time to get in a gym.
Bonus tip: Buy a box of latex surgical gloves, and wear the gloves in cold weather. They are thin, so you don’t lose grip, and your hands will stay sweaty warm.
Get off your butt and move!
And most importantly….