This blog is dedicated to YOU, the goalies who stand as the last line of defense against a goal. I recently met with a goalie for an in-season “check-in,” and it catalyzed deeper questions. “What does it really take to train a great goalie?” and “How do I coach goalies when I have no formal goalie training?” I quickly realized that I would need to look elsewhere for guidance. Until recently, I relied almost exclusively on those who seemed best suited (no pun intended!) for the job: former goalies; and I would balance this with an occasional Devon Wills goalie drill in practice. For fear of doing it wrong, I was resigned to delegate goalie training. However, by relinquishing this important coach responsibility, I weakened my relationship with goalies and hindered their integration into the team fabric.
After years of coaching, I finally recognize that because I have not played goalie, I need to proactively design practice drills and interact with goalies in a way that meets their specific needs. This is at times different than drills and techniques intended for field players. In identifying this area of growth, I am working to train and prepare goalies for what is arguably the toughest position in the game. What follows are a few resources and take-aways for goalies, goalie parents, and those who coach goalies (because not all of us are goalie coaches). Here's to some GOALIE LOVE!
A goalie parent recently forwarded me the IWLCA (Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association) blog article, "Goalies are People Too." Read the full text HERE. My two BIG takeaways:
1. There is a difference between the drills that are beneficial for goalies versus the drills I think a goalie needs. For example, my high school warm-up previously included a "Duke" shooting shuttle where attackers literally ripped shots from 6-8 meters out on an undefended goalie. The goalie shared with me that she doesn't really gain much from this drill, and after I thought about it, she's right! How often does an attacker get a wide open shot without anyone else on the field recovering or defending? Never, because there are eleven other players on her team adjusting, sliding, and crashing making the shot more difficult. What's the alternative? Instead, I jump into the drill and apply defensive pressure on the shooter making the drill more game-like for the goalie and the attacker.
2. While goalies play a very different position than field players, they are still members of the team and should be incorporated into stick work and other cross-over skill drills. Naturally, the goalie position can be isolating. The lone woman standing in goal surrounded by a crease no one else may enter. As a coach it is important to combat the feeling of isolation by including the goalie in drills that are critical to her success. What do these include? Stick work drills, ground ball drills, defensive sliding drills, and clearing drills. Even let the goalie shoot every now and then! For drills where the goalie stick can be prohibitive (like stick tricks), I've learned to let goalies use a field stick to develop eye-hand coordination!
Quick Links to Goalie Drills that a goalie can do with a coach, parent or teammate!
Take a listen HERE to a Fred Opie interview with 3-time World Champion, Devon Wills. Devon is a personal friend and mentor, and a role model for many young lacrosse players out there! Listen to the entire interview, but if you only have a few minutes, tune in around minute 13:00 when Devon discusses the role of the goalie. Devon encourages goalie training to include elements beyond just saving the ball. For example, clearing, intercepting, riding, and double-teaming. In Devon's words, "Goalies, be that eighth defender out there!"