The Misunderstood Position of Box Lacrosse Goaltending
The position of the Indoor lacrosse goaltender has always been a tough proposition when looking at it from any side of the fence. How many people have ever played the position long enough to have a well developed perspective?
Players, parents, coaches or even equipment managers are all working with incomplete degrees of understanding of the Box goalie job description. Most of them have no experience and apply their best guess as input but are armed with poor ideas of what it entails to be a goalie in Box Lacrosse. When trying to teach the goalie skills required to build a foundation for the game they often do more harm than good and send a youngster down a dead end street.
I can relate back to my own experience as a child to prove a point. My early instruction came from a non-lacrosse hockey dad when I started playing goal in 1972. My father was a hockey goalie so everything revolved around his knowledge of goaltending in hockey.
"Come out and cut down the angle" was what I heard from the first time I dawned the pads at the age of eight.
While my father meant well he was ignorant in his perspective. Unknowingly he programed me with a faulty process I wouldn't defeat until I was in my 5th year of playing Senior A lacrosse at the age of 28 some 20 years later.
Cutting down the angles like goalies do hockey put into play in Box lacrosse is a 50/50 proposition. In hockey the puck comes from the ice and you can always take your angle from the puck. In lacrosse that isn't the case, the ball is carried at shoulder plane. Shots can be dropped over or reached around a goalie who is too far off his goal line from most shooting standpoints. Therefore there are 3 angles to cover in lacrosse and only 2 in hockey. Food for thought for many of you people that don't revel in the details of Box Lacrosse let alone the Indoor goalie position. I am just starting to open Pandora's Box.
The mindset for most minor lax coaches hasn't changed since 1972 and the days I decided to be a goalie in lacrosse. What has happened between then and now for me is a lifetime of playing and studying the position. I would go as far to say that I learned more about Box Lacrosse goaltending after I retired than when I was playing just by pondering ways to make goalies better. In the future these thoughts and ideas are what I will expose for many of you to digest for yourself.
My perspective is based in the experiences from the path I took. It isn't the same route every goalie has taken and I'd go further and say it isn't the same as most. I'm not saying I know everything or what's best for anyone but I have truly explored different ways to play and train for the position. I am sure of my own experience and what I worked out for myself at the highest levels of lacrosse. I have shared parts of my past experiences with professional and junior goalies over the last 15 years and it has been a benefit to most.
One thing I do know is that you can't grow as a goalie unless you are willing to try new things and increase your skillset beyond being a "blocker". If your goal is to play in the NLL then you better be ready to learn how to operate a goal stick that isn't a 28" Woodie or a Wall that covers your entire 5 hole. In the days when I learned my position in minor lacrosse there were no gigantic sticks. Everyone used 24" heads or smaller and moved the stick to the ball and caught balls mainly because padding was so bad and catching a ball doesn't hurt!
This skillset is completely lost on today's goalies who regularly use their stick to lean on for balance in their stance. Leaning on your stick is a position/stance that will lock you in to a certain style that prevents goalie skills from developing. If there is one thing I know it's that you can't be a high level Box goalie if you don't bend your knees in your stance. Locking your knees out so your legs are straight will make you a statue. Movement out of this stance is limited.
On this web site MAX LAX will soon start to build a library of blogs and video to break down the different ways to play goal in Indoor Box Lacrosse and train for success. There are challenges for young goalies and tall goalies; there are challenges for heavier goalies and shorter goalies. Our aim is to help all goalies build their skill level and confidence in an attempt to improve everyone's game. Make sure you return to check out what's new on periodically.
All the Best,