Coming from our Instagram account, @2lacrosse (follow if you haven’t already!), we had a great question from Robb about his daughter:
Question: How can I get my daughter who plays goalie to stop taking such a large step? It slows her down and lowers her height.
Answer: This is a solid question and one that a lot of goalies tend to overthink. For this particular situation, there is two things we need to look at. First, are the hands driving first? Second, is she driving off of her back leg?
Driving your hands is imperative because your stick is what actually makes the save. Furthermore, everything should be based off of your stick. For example, if you’re going for a bounce shot, you want to smother the ball before it bounces, but if the shot is closer to you, you obviously don’t need to step as far to reach the bounce. Also, if it’s a high shot, you won’t be bending your knees for the save because your hands will be driving your body up and towards the shot. Hence why we drive our hands first to the ball, and have our legs follow.
When we talk about driving our hands to the ball, it means our top hand should be meeting the ball out in front, not to the side of the body. We want to avoid the “windshield wiper” approach where the hands stay on the same plane at which they started. Meeting the ball with our hands in front of us insures that A) we see the ball (not having to turn our head to see it into our stick) and B) allows us to not have to time our movement in more than one direction. The windshield wiper approach forces us to have to meet the ball at a specific place both high/low and left/right at the exact time. But by going out to the ball, we can combine those two places into a streamline angle and not have to worry about exact timing as we will be on angle throughout the movement. Furthermore, driving our hands, as mentioned before, helps us key in how far our feet need to drive. Now, that being said, we say drive our hands first, but they should be nearly simultaneous. It is secondarily important to get your body behind the ball for instances where you do not make the save with your stick.
Speaking of our feet, many people think that stepping to the ball, means picking up your lead foot and bringing it to the ball. In fact, this is NOT the case. To get your body to the ball, you actually want to drive off of your back leg. It may seem counter intuitive at first, but the reason why you set yourself up in an athletic stance so to explode forward. You explode by driving off of the muscles that you have contracted getting into your athletic stance- think when you’re performing a box jump, you’re training your muscles to explode upwards by getting into a squat position first otherwise you won’t jump very high. When you attempt to lead with your foot forward, you actually have your body go back first (by virtue of trying to pick your foot up and gain momentum forward and then with a lack of power, try to just go forward. In an ideal situation, you want to use that power that you’ve built up in your bent, back leg and drive forward picking up your lead foot as minimally as possible. We’re all about efficiency here, and your foot isn’t making the save, so don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be.
So, now that we’ve cleared these two things up, here are two drills to get you going on making sure she is driving her hands and legs to the ball without overdoing it.
-The first drill is simple, but since we first want to identify if hands are leading, we want to take the legs away completely. Have your goalie go on his or her knees, and do a complete warm up, high, mid and low. Hands should always end up in front of the goalie, and their head (their actual head, under than helmet!) should be right behind their stick if possible. Keep an eye on their torso, if it twists, chances are their hands are in line with their body or actually behind. Really encourage the goalie to be able to see the ball impact their stick in front of them. They should have to rotate their neck much to have to see the ball.
-Working on not overstepping, the next drill requires that you use some tape, rope or extra sticks, something with a straight line. Mark where the pipes are and continue in a line straight out (about 5-6 yards if you can). Shoot on the goalie from the center of the field so that when they step, the tape/rope can help them understand if they are overstepping. The biggest hazard to overstepping, while shrinking, is actually about efficiency. If a ball goes wider than the pipe, it will never be a goal, so we want to train our bodies to make the shortest, quickest movement to get to the shot on angle. Overstepping leaves more of the goal open if there is a rebound, and takes goalies longer to recover in general.
Looking for more drills? Check out our Goalie Drill E-Book by Clicking Here (you will be redirected to our main website).
Hope this helps, and remember, if you have any questions, send them our way by submitting a question to our Question Bin- HERE!