How to Play Goalie in Men’s Lacrosse

How to Play Goalie in Men’s Lacrosse

The goalie position is quite possibly the most important on a lacrosse team because a good goalie can separate an ok team from a great one. So what makes a good goalie? Well, obviously, a good goalie can stop any shot taken by the opponent. A good goalie is also able to “clear” the ball (carry and pass the ball to an open teammate). But much like a football quarterback, a good goalie is also a leader who knows the ins and outs of the game. He/she must have a thorough understanding of the needs of their team and what it will take to get the team where they want to be.

Communication is key! As a goalie, one of your most important jobs is to communicate with your defense. A goalie’s chatter should be used wisely. Don’t talk just to talk, but rather talk to provide your teammates with information. You have the best view of the field, so get accustomed to calling out the ball’s location (especially loose balls, passes and open shots) so the defensemen are aware of the ball’s position without actually looking at it. The goalie needs to use a loud, authoritative voice that is commanding without yelling.

While this is obvious, a goalie needs to learn how to effectively defend the goal. Concentration and quick reflexes are vital as you will spend much of the game stopping direct shots. Action tends to get exaggerated and oftentimes overwhelming around the goal, so the goalie needs to practice training on the ball. The second you lose sight of the ball is the exact opportunity the opponent is looking for.

A goalie also needs to be good at catching and throwing. If your open man is in the distance, you want to feel confident that you can get the ball to them. You should actually be able to accurately and consistently throw half field at the very least. Your cradling and throwing skills also need to be on par with your other teammates.

Your hands should be in a relaxed, comfortable position (about 12″ apart). The shaft should be in your fingers, not in your palms (do not choke the handle). This will give you flexibility and a greater range of motion. Hold your arms away from your body with your elbows in (avoid “wings”).

Your feet should be positioned about shoulder width apart. Keep a bit more weight on your toes, but don’t lift up on the balls of your feet. You should be crouching a bit (knees slightly bent, back straight and head up) and ready to move in any direction.

Ball is in front of the goal opening: Get into goalie position between the pipes (on the imaginary half moon). As the ball moves, you should be moving along the half moon to be in proper position to stop any shot that nears the goal.

Ball is directly behind the goal at X or off the pipes right and left: You should be positioned at the center of the moon, waiting in goalie position except with your bottom hand at the end of the handle so that you are in position to “steal the ball”. Only make the attempt if you can be successful. Do not be over anxious so as to be out of position for the next opportunity to make a save.

Communication: The best goalies are loud and constantly communicate in an authoritative voice, but without yelling.
Concentration and quick reflexes: Things happen fast… you need to be able to think fast and act logically under pressure.
Footwork: Become quick on your feet and practice your footwork on a regular basis.
Passing: You’ll need to know how to pass downfield when you find yourself with the ball.

Goalie Equipment includes:
a. Goalie Stick (shaft is 40 inches and head is larger than other players)
b. Helmet
c. Gloves (Goalie-specific recommended)
d. Throat and mouth guard
e. Chest Protector
f. Goalie Pants (Recommended)
g. Shin Guards (Not required)
h. Athletic supporter with cup
i. Cleats

What are your thoughts?