Quick Answer: Best Drills for Goalies
- Jump Rope for Speed and Co-ordination
- Box Jumps
- Blocking drills
- Card Catching
- Quick Stick Shooting
- Wall Balls
It goes without saying that each position in lacrosse requires its own sets of skills which need to be trained.
The case of goalies is, however, different from the rest of the positions because of the special privileges they have within the crease, such as being able to block a ball with their hand.
Moreover, most of their attention is focused on making saves, which is not something either attackmen or people in defending positions are concerned with.
Because of this, there are a number of skills, such as hand-eye coordination, which must be carefully developed by goalies.
The following is a list of drills, for beginners, intermediate, and experienced players, which help in improving skills such as reaction time, footwork, or hand-eye coordination.
Best Exercises for Goalies
The following exercises are divided into the kinds of skills that they will help you develop as a goalie.
Many of these are basic exercises that are absolutely necessary for any beginner goalie.
However, a number of ways to increase the difficulty of the exercises along with your increasing skill level have been suggested to make sure that these exercises are appropriate for everyone.
Basic workout exercises
Jump Rope for Speed and Co-ordination
Jump rope drills are absolutely essential for any goalie as they get you in shape, develop coordination between your feet and hands, and increase your quickness.
A basic jump rope routine would involve normal jumps, followed by off-step jumps, in which you jump on one foot for two consecutive jumps and then switch to the other foot.
This could be followed by alternating jumps, in which you alternate the foot you jump on with every jump and this could be finished by jump rope jumping jacks.
A beginners version of this routine is available here, with useful tips in case you are just starting out:
More jump rope exercises to incorporate into your general workout can be found here:
This is another good exercise for getting in shape while also training muscles that you’ll be using to make your saves.
Box jumps involve vertically leaping onto a box in front of you with both feet and then taking a step back down onto the ground.
Landing from the jump is the key aspect of this exercise and correctly performing it increases hip extension and flexion.
Here’s a popular explanation and demonstration of the exercise:
Hand-Eye Co-ordination Drills
This is one of the most fundamental drills for a lacrosse goalie and is absolutely necessary for beginners.
For this drill, you should stand in the crease, in front of the goal, and have a player or a coach throw balls at you one by one.
You must block the incoming ball with the shaft of your stick.
This helps in improving hand-eye coordination so that you can focus on the ball and direct your stick in the correct direction.
A demonstration of this basic exercise can be seen here:
A number of variations can be made to this basic drill.
You can have the player or coach throw balls of different colors and each time you block a ball you should call out its color as well.
This forces you to heighten concentration on the ball.
Another change you can make, to prepare yourself for actual match experience, is to face the back of the net, as though a pass is being made from behind to the front.
Have the player or coach shout when they are throwing the ball and turn around to block the shot.
For highly advanced players, you can use a tennis-ball thrower instead of having a person throw the balls by hand.
Set the thrower up and let it fire 40 shots in one direction rapidly then change the angle and direction and start shooting again.
This rapid blocking will improve muscle memory as well as speed greatly.
For this drill, your coach will stand on a chair to simulate the angle from which overhand shots are made. Your coach will then flick playing cards for you to catch.
To catch them, you must use your top hand as well as your lead foot.
This will improve your concentration by making you focus on a single fluttering card while also improving your step abilities.
You can make this exercise more demanding by increasing your heart rate with some exercises before catching the cards.
For more experienced players, you can quickly throw a number of differently colored cards and catch only the cards of a particular color.
Reaction Time Drills
Quick Stick Shooting
In this drill, you need to stand inside the crease and have a player start shooting quick sticks at you.
This shooting method is often used in matches and is a way of quickly shooting a ball without cradling it in the pocket.
Attempt to catch the ball with the pocket of your stick. This prepares you for actual techniques that are used in matches.
Also, remember to keep your bottom hand 12 inches up the shaft of your stick.
If you have a tendency to lower your hand, this exercise will force you to keep that habit in check as lowering the position of the bottom hand decreases your response time.
You can see this drill here:
In this drill, you should face a wall and have a coach or another player throw balls from behind you to the wall.
As they ricochet off the walls, you should try to catch or block them with your stick.
For added difficulty, you can practice in a racquetball room in which the coach or player can also bounce balls off the sidewalls and onto the wall you are facing.
This not only helps improve reaction time but also helps expand your vision, ensuring that you are equally attentive to any incoming ball in all directions.
You can find a demonstration of this here:
A number of other wall ball exercises by Adam Ghitelman, goalie for Atlanta Blaze, can be seen here:
Agility Ladder Drills for Speed
Using an agility ladder for your drills is a great way to improve your foot speed, which is essential for blocking low shots.
An agility ladder is constructed like normal ladders but is designed to be placed on the ground rather than standing upright.
With this piece of equipment, you can choose to do a number of drills, three of which are as follows :
Place both your in the first rung of a ladder and then put each foot into the next space, one after the other until you have reached the end of the ladder.
Do not concentrate on how high your knees are going but rather focus on the footwork itself and how fast you can do it.
You can also jump into the first rung of the ladder and then jump out sideways, then jump back into the next rung and carry on this exercise until you reach the end of the ladder.
n this exercise, you should make sure that both your feet land on the ground at the same time when you jump in or out and you should land on the balls of your feet.
This drill, along with many others, can be seen here:
This drill is shown 50 seconds into the video although there are many other drills in there that you can consider using.
Another more advanced exercise is the ‘triple step forward shuffle.’ For this exercise, place your feet in the first rung of the ladder one by one.
Then place your right foot out of the rung sideways and put your left foot in the next rung.
Repeat this exercise as quickly as you can until you reach the end of the ladder.
Hand Speed Drills
An important factor in improving hand speed is hand strength.
To improve hand strength, you can use hand weights while performing many of the exercises mentioned above, particularly wall ball exercises and blocking drills.
Another way that you can add weight to your drills is by using a weighted lacrosse stick.
Some brands manufacture these but if you have a lacrosse stick with a hollow shaft then you can fill the shaft with materials such as sand.
A particular good exercise to do with a weighted stick is a wall ball drill.
In this drill, you should stand 12 feet away from a wall and shoot the ball at the wall.
As the ball bounces off and back towards you, pretend as those it is a shot that you have to block. Make a step to the shot and block it, and then shoot it back at the wall.
Since each time you block it you take a step, you get closer to the wall with each block.
Reset your position if you fail to block a shot or when you are only a couple of feet away from the wall.
By just working on a handful of basic exercises, and varying them with other exercises suggested in the linked videos, can drastically improve your performance as a goalie.
These exercises have covered everything from the basics of getting in shape to hand strength and coordination.
But don’t be limited to this list: a number of other exercises, such as shuttling drills for hand-eye co-ordination or cone drills for speed, are also good.
You can use the drills in this article as a springboard for further research and training.