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Tip of the week #7

Posted Sunday, February 01, 2009 by Cliff Hedges
Tip of the week #7 GOAL KEEPERS (GK)

Ahhh, one of my favorite things to talk about.  We are lucky to have two very talented goalies with Mackie and Lindsey.  I am looking forward to both of them becoming Key players in or team concept. 

Some of the things I look for in a GK: 1- Good Athlete , quickness is key; 2 Tough and Resilient; 3- Good stickwork; 4-Good Hands; 5- Someone who is willing to take a risk and willing to learn.

Let's talk first about READY POSITION- Every goale will have thier variation of the ready position. However, it is important that they are consistent, comfortable and balanced.  A slight push from behind should not tip them forward.  Some basic ready positon tips:
  • FEET: Shoulder width apart, toes directly forward, weight on the balls of your feet
  • LEGS: Slightly bent, athletic and comfortable stance
  • ARMS: About a foot away from the body, elbows away.
  • HANDS: Top hand all the way up the top of shaft, bottom hand about a foot down
  • STICK: Slightly to the dominant side of the GK head.  Stick should be positioned straight up, not tilted forward or back.
Angles and Steps
A- The Basic Form:  Stepping to the ball is essential for GK because it reduces the angle of the shot.  The closer the shot, the lower the angle for the shooters.  Stepping to the ball also allows the gk to get their body behind the ball, thus creating more surface area to make a save. Stepping keys:  3 Steps:  45 degree left; 45 degrees right and straight ahead.
     One foot immediately after the other, assertive. Feet should never go together, maintain the shoulder width distance between them.  One step after the other,.  Finish the step just as you started it, athletic stance wit hips square to the ball.  Hips directly facing the ball.  Size of the steps depends on the GK.  It should be a significant but comfortable step, Not so large that it is a stretch..  TIP It is essential that at the same time GK steps to the ball they get their hands out to the ball.  Arms should stay bent during the step so that they can extend forward.  Drive the top hand out to the ball.

B:  Evaluating the Form:  GK's can get themsleves into trouble if they do not step properly.  Pay attention to your form.  You should be aligned your body with the ball, NOT THE SHOOTER's body.  After the step, the GK should make the save between their shoulders(i.e. your body shold be directly behind the ball) Timing is key.  There is a fine line between too early and too late. TIP: Both of you try hard to focus on the moment that the ball reaches the shooting strings in a shoots stick.  Most players are unable to bring the back down, thus the shot is coming.  (Yeh right, but it is true)

OK, you all know what's coming next:  COMMUNICATION: 
The GK is the anchor of our defense.  They are in position to see the whole field.  It is the gk's job to communicate.  We have two extreams with our gk's, Lindsey is very good at this, Mackie much quieter.  Either way, they both need to know what to say:
  • WHERE THE BALL IS!  Ball left, Ball behind, Ball Middle
  • WHAT IS GOING ON:  Lida you have two, watch cutter in the middle Maddy
  • WHICH WAY TO FORCE: Martha, force right/ left, force up/down
  • SLIDES:  Maddy you help
  • CONFIRM MATCH UPS: Lida you have 7, Maddy 3,ect.,
  • DANGER ZONE: Middle
OK how to say it.  Once again two different styles;  Communication is the key to our defense.  Much of the communication and leadership will come from our GK's.  The gk must not communicate for the sake of talking, her communication must be DIRECTIVE and ASSERTIVE, and should have a purpose.  Use names and directions, Make decisions guickly and go with it. Sould not be MONOTONOUS. We all have heard other teams GK do this, drives me nuts and I am sure their defenders tune them out early in the game.  You need to change the volume and sense of emergency; Example, The gk can talk in a loud, normal voice when communicating where the ball is. BUT when the ball goes into the middle the gk must be loudly screaming with a sense of urgency to get her defenders to react.

Ok, not all on the GK- Communication on defense is a two way street, defenders should respond to the gk communication and vice versa.  Learn to become familiar with each other and their abilities to react.

Mental Game:  The GK need to be mentally strong.  Understand this, there is a much higher percentage of a goal being scored in lacrosse then in other sports.
  • Short memory: Accept that you will be scored on. Shut outs are not as much a reality in lax as they are in hockey or soccer.
  • You should always strive for a shutout, but can not be rattle when it does not happen. Like I said, it is a Rarity!!
  • Position your team to win, A gk mentality should be such that it is her job to put her team in a position to win the game.  A shutout is not necessary to win.  The GK job is to direct the defense, the defense job is to five the gk the best chance to make a save.
  • Visualizaiton, before a game or practice, it is important to visualize making saves on high shots, low shots ( I hate to say it but Molly Mackler worked very hard at this and was good at it.)
  • The 3 S's:  See the ball; Step to the ball, oh yeh, Save the ball.

Like I said in the beginnging we are lucky to have two of the best goalies in W/Mass who will only get better as the season contiunes, but it takes hard work on thier part and support from Me as the coach and you as their teammates.   For the younger girls, the goalie is a key position at this level in lacrosse.  It is a great position to play, and if you work hard at it easy to become very good.  I love goalies.  

Have a safe and warm week.  Coach.

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