6 Drills That Are An Absolute Waste Of Time For Lacrosse Goalies

By Coach Edwards from LacrosseGoalieTips.com

I would say about once a week I get an inquiry from a parent who is “looking for drills for my lacrosse goalie.”

To which I usually shake my head.

Looking for drills to improve your lacrosse goalie is like looking for a diet pill to fix your beer belly. It’s not out there. There are no shortcuts.

For over twenty-five years now I’ve been helping lacrosse goalies from over 34 countries, and I’m here to tell you that no matter where your goalie is in this world, or where they are trying to play, ANY drill you pick has to be applied to one of their Three Key Abilities.

If you don’t know what ability you are trying to fix then you don’t know what drill is going to work.

There are tons of drills out there that can help a goalie. Many parents and coaches look for novelty and creativitiy in drills well before it is really necessary.

For the most part you’re better off sticking to the basics like just getting more shots and working on your technique for moving without the ball.

If your goalie is stiff as a board then working on mobility drills and getting in the gym may be a better use of your time than trying to find something out of the ordinary.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to give you seven drills that are an absolute waste of time for ANY lacrosse goalie.

If your coach tells you to do these you should probably look for another coach because these drills are a sure sign your coach doesn’t know what they are talking about.  That may sound a bit harsh, and it might not apply to everything your coach can teach you.  But if your coach is telling you to do any of these seven drills I would question their effort in finding the best drills to help their goalie.

That being said, I’ve seen some very “smart” athletes and coaches prescribe these drills and they just…aren’t…thinking.

So here we go:

#1) Jumping Rope:

Let me ask you, what part of lacrosse goaltending looks like your bouncing on a pogo stick? Yeah, I thought so. In fact, bouncing vertically in the cage it the last movement pattern we need to be reinforcing.

We want our goalies to be exploding laterally in front of the ball.  There is no need for a lacrosse goalie to be exploding vertically.  If you get faked high, and you explode off the ground, you’re not getting down fast enough to make the save when they shoot low.  We don’t want anything to be reinforcing that.

Here’s why jumping rope even became a thing. (I first wrote about this way back in 2010 but here we go again!)Lacrosse Goalie Jumping Rope - Please Stop

Well before 2000 when the business of sports performance and sports conditioning blew up, coaches had to try and put two and two together to see what could make a better lacrosse goalie. (I’d say we are still stuck in this world because there really isn’t a lot of money going into lacrosse goalie research. But I digress.)

Back in the 80’s when athletes were looking to specialize and get better, a discussion was had, somewhere. And I can imagine it went something like this:

“What other sport kinda looks like a lacrosse goalie looks? Boxers. Boxers have fast with their hands and athletic! What do boxers do to train? Well, they box, of course. What else do boxers do to train? Well, they jump rope! Therefore my goalie should jump rope.”

This is the wrong way to look at an athlete.

To the best of my knowledge, this is where it all began. When you apply what we know about decision making, that people do things based on emotion and then justify it with logic, people started to justify why jumping rope was good for lacrosse goalies. That looks something like this:

Jumping rope is good for endurance: True, but only if you’re bouncing up and down.  It’s why sprinters don’t make good marathon runners.  Or why marathon runners don’t make good cyclists.  Specificity is key.

Jumping rope develops coordination: True…for jumping rope.  Check out this video of the worlds best jump roper.  How do you think she’d do getting lacrosse balls shot at her head if she’s only ever training with her hands down by her side?  With fixed elbows.

Jumping rope is hard so it MUST be good for you: Jumping rope can suck the confidence right out of a kid if they aren’t good at it naturally.  And that’s exactly what I want with my goalie before he steps in the cage…a lack of confidence.

Jumping rope makes you quicker: Really? How so?  You’re moving a rope at sub-explosive speeds by flicking your wrists and ankles in a tiny motion while everything else about you is stiff as a board.  When we talk about being quick and/or explosive we need to reinforce that in the movement patterns we are about to train, or damn near close to it.  If jumping rope was such a great idea you would see athletes in every other sport using them…and you don’t.  You see dynamic warm ups designed to warm up the entire body in a progressive fashion.  Jumping rope just doesn’t do that.

Boxers are good athletes and they jump rope so if my goalie was like a boxer they’d probably be a better goalie.
And on and on and on…

Let’s break this down.

When it comes to picking drills to improve an athlete of ANY kind, let alone a lacrosse goalie, you need to know this about training: it needs to have some level of specificity.

Jumping rope is NOT specific enough to a lacrosse goalie.

When you jump rope you are bouncing up and down and the hips are basically fixed.

Lacrosse goalies need strong, dynamic hips that move laterally and not up and down.

Jumping rope is basically a calf exercise that flexes the ankles and the knee is basically straight. This uses the gastroc muscle of the calf.

Lacrosse goaltending is more about moving from an athletic stance where the knee is bent. Any calf use at this point is all about your soleus and not the gastroc.

Jumping rope provides endurance. Yes, but for your calves basically. What about the rest of you?

Jumping rope provides coordination and timing: Um…yeah. Coordination for…jumping rope. Not dynamically moving your hands in front of the ball or stabilizing your hip enough to move your body in front of the ball.  A lacrosse goalie has no need to worry about timing.  They are recognizing where the ball is going and they are exploding to that space. This involves the glute maximus, glute medius and the glute minimus which act as stabilizers AND movers.  Jumping rope doesn’t tax them at all.

Lacrosse goaltending is all about applying force from the ground, up through the body, into the hands. I could do a thousand other things for a goalie instead of jumping rope. Here are just a few:

  • Take more shots.
  • Work on lateral band walks.
  • Work on some wall ball.
  • Get in a shooting drill.
  • Improve your hip mobility and strength.
  • Do some push ups or work on your planks in all directions.
  • Work on moving from post to post.
  • Work on clearing drills.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Scroll through TiK ToK watching good lacrosse goalies.
  • Then jump rope.
  • I hope you get some of my sarcasm here.

I could go on. But I think you get my point. Jumping rope is one of the last possible things I would EVER prescribe to a goalie. Ever.

Oh! One last thing…

Jumping Rope Can Actually Be Dangerous

If your athlete has ANY sort of knee issues, then jumping rope is not just bad, it’s dangerous.

Especially for the girls.

Here’s the deal.  Your knee is simple but incredibly complex and something to think about is how the knee “tracks”.  For the boys, this is a problem if they have tight IT bands or tight quads.  If they have grown a ton.  You name it.  Adding the highly repetitive impact from jumping rope is like having tires on your car that aren’t aligned and then you put more miles on them.

Eventually you’re going to have a blow out.

With the girls

Don’t do them.

And before you send me this article about the Syracuse goalies back in 2018 I’ve already seen it and have done a deep dive about it for our Lacrosse Goalie University members.  The article is misleading and when they talk about being “old school”? Yeah…I’m trying to avoid that.  There is no reason NOT to be “new school” and get our goalies even better.

2) Soft Toss Ball Drills

Back to specificity again.Don't Do The Soft Toss Drill for Lacrosse Goalies

If you’re reading this, I can probably guess that your goalie is not brand spanking new. Maybe they are but I bet they’ve probably played catch before.

I’m not talking about catch with a lacrosse goalie stick Or even a lacrosse stick.

I’m talking about…playing catch.

If your goalie has been in a freakin’ snow ball fight, they have done more intense things than the soft toss.

There are some smart looking people out there telling you that this is a good drill and I’m here to tell you that it is a total…waste of…time.

The arguments FOR the soft ball toss:

  • It improves eye-hand coordination.
  • It improves proper stepping to the ball.
  • It…it……I’ve given up on trying to recommend the arguments FOR this drill because they don’t hold water when it comes to good scientific principles of training athletes.

In my opinion the soft ball toss drill is good for:

When you run a big camp and you need to give goalies a break so you look for SOMETHING for them to do that looks like it could be beneficial.

Nothing else.

In fact. Here’s why the soft ball toss drill is BAD for your lacrosse goalie:

1) It’s actually NOT fast enough. No ball moves in an arc over five feet at your goalie at a half a mile per hour!

No…lacrosse goalies see the ball leave the stick and then they do everything they possibly can to EXPLODE in front of the space where they think the ball is going because that ball is coming in a straight line, really fast.

2) It causes them to LUNGE TO THE BALL with their top hand which we don’t want them to do. I see this a lot with my women’s goalies who have done a lot of this dumb drill. They want to snatch at everything with the top hand and this puts them out of position.

When you put the bottom hand behind the back you are actually wiring the goalie to move improperly to the ball. They lunge. They reach. And the back foot gets stuck to the ground. It’s not good.

This drill results in a LOT of wasted time.

There are a thousand other things I would do with a lacrosse goalie (based on their needs) than the soft toss drill. Here are just a few…

  • Take more shots.
  • Work on lateral band walks.
  • Work on some wall ball.
  • Get in a shooting drill.
  • Improve your hip mobility and strength.
  • Do some push ups.
  • Work on moving from post to post.
  • Work on clearing drills.
  • Watch a movie.
  • 9991 other things.
  • Then jump rope.
  • Then do the soft toss drill.

#3) Eye Hand Coordination Drills

The problem I have with most eye-hand coordination drills is because they are eye…hand. Not eye…stick.

When we train ANY athlete, let alone a lacrosse goalie, we need to be wary of our time. We only have so much time in the day so I really want to make sure we are doing things that are the biggest bang for the buck.

Eye-hand coordination drills FEEL like you are doing something worthwhile, but…there are a thousand other things we could be doing.

Is It The Hand Eye Drill Or The Lunges That's Making This Goalie Better?

Is It The Hand Eye Drill Or The Lunges That’s Making This Goalie Better?


  • Take more shots.
  • Work on lateral band walks.
  • Work on some wall ball.
  • Get in a shooting drill.
  • Improve your hip mobility and strength.
  • Do some push ups.
  • Work on moving from post to post.
  • Work on clearing drills.
  • Watch a movie.
  • 9991 other things.
  • Then jump rope.
  • Then do the soft toss drill.
  • Then play some Fortnite.
  • Then do some eye-hand coordination drills.

Are there benefits to eye-hand coordination drills? Sure. But your goalie is going to get those benefits doing all sorts of other things.

Like I said, they FEEL good. They are FUN. They are gimmicky. And I’m all for doing those sorts of things if you’re trying to break things up.

But I’m also for doing the things that are going to create the BIGGEST improvements and eye-hand drills aren’t high on the list.

Many hand – eye drills are paired with a more demanding physical skill that taxes the hips.  So is it the fact you’re trying to juggle? Or that you’re sitting in a deep squat for a minute that is making you a better goalie.  Hmmm?

#4) Time and Room Shots From Fifteen Yards

Here we go back to specificity again.

Odds are your goalie probably isn’t seeing a lot of time and room shots from fifteen yards.

No, they are probably seeing crease rolls, or shots from eight yards on the run, or slam dunks to open attack men on the crease.

I’m all for warming up a lacrosse goalie slowly and methodically, but at some point you need to be doing things that are appropriately challenging to your goalie for what they are going to see on Game Day.

Take this example…for example: Let’s say you come to my gym and we bench press.

We’ve been working on bench pressing for a few weeks. Your bench pressing is improving. You think bench pressing is FUN! But this weekend we have a competition and you are going to overhead press for the competition.

But we keep bench pressing.

Will there be some carry over? Sure there will. But if we don’t practice overhead pressing, you’re going to lose.

I see a lot of Instagram videos of goalies getting shot on in practice with time and room shots from fifteen yards. These aren’t NEW goalies. These are goalies who have collegiate aspirations, both male and female.

Of all the goalies who DON”T need this type of shot it is THIS group of goalies!

At some point you need to prioritize your weakness. If you think of the thousands and thousands of reps a lacrosse goalie gets in warm up and how they relate to the shots they see in a game, you’d be shocked at the lack of cross over.

Goalies waste so much time and energy and money going to camps and clinics and seeing shots that have NO bearing on what they actually see on Game Day.

So what should you do?

Well, after a goalie gets ready physically, they should go through a series of movements that look like what they would do when they move in front of the ball.

When they finally start to take shots, progress them appropriately and then get creative.

Instead of taking shots from straight on, have the shooter move. Better yet, have that shooter move LIKE THE SHOOTERS YOUR GOALIE WILL SEE ON GAME DAY!!

If your team is giving up shots from in close…shoot like that.
If your team is giving up fast breaks…shoot like that.
If your team is giving up 8 meter shots…shoot like that.
If your team is giving up alley dodges…shoot like that.
If the other team has one or two players who are good and you know where they are going to most likely be shooting from…shoot like that!!!

Remember…specificity is the key to developing great lacrosse goalies.

#5) Catching Cards Drill

There is NOTHING good about this drill. Zero.Playing Cards Drill - Lacrosse Goalie

Let’s think about this for a minute. Of ALL the sports that have a goalie, lacrosse is the one where there are the fewest deflections or redirects.

Ice hockey has them.
Field hockey has them.
Soccer, occasionally has them.

A lacrosse goalie needs to see the ball, recognize where it is going, and then EXPLODE in front of the space where they think the ball is going.

There is no hesitation.
There is no worry about a tip or a deflection.
There is no doubt.

The card toss drill creates:


It’s important to understand that a lacrosse goalie is not necessarily tracking the ball all the way to the cage. As they see the ball leave the stick they are making an assumption of where the ball is going. That decision is made as the brain processes all of what just happened BEFORE the ball leaves the stick. The motion of the shooter. The release of the ball out of the stick. The follow through. ALL of those are “tells” that let the goalie know where the ball is going.

But the goalie isn’t attacking the ball. They are meeting the ball at a point just in front of them. This the “pane of glass” theory. The goalie is meeting the ball at a point just in front of them like if there was a pain of glass there.

When goalies “stab” or “snatch” TO the ball they give up rebounds. Anything we do that reinforces that is just bad business.

#6) The Wrapping Paper Drill

OMG Please!  Please.  Just stop it.The Unusual Wrapping Paper Drill

Let’s find a way to take up more players doing absolutely NOTHING while ruining the environment by wasting paper! (Ok, ok. Maybe that last part was a bit strong)

Specificity again. When, if ever, is the goalie screened like this? Um…never.

Especially in the women’s game.

But more importantly, what are we trying to accomplish here?

First off, the two people holding the paper are COMPLETELY WASTING THEIR TIME! And I have no time for that.

Let’s save the time it takes to even set up this drill and do 1000 other things that can help our goalies.

#7) Ladder Drills

I’m not going to spend a ton of time on this one, but hear me out…

Every good strength and conditioning coach will tell you that they can get more done by teaching a kid how to squat than to do ladder drills.

But here’s something you need to understand…

Ladder Drills Are Typically a Waste of Time

In a ladder drill the feet are moving freely under the goalie. But we need the body to move over the feet. There’s a difference.

In a ladder drill, athletes are moving their feet quickly under the body.

As a lacrosse goalie we are moving the body OVER the feet.

The feet are anchored to the ground to provide a base.  That base is solidified by strong hips. That power moves up through the core to the shoulders and then to the arms where we move the stick in front of the ball.

At no time are the feet doing the Icky Shuffle beneath us.

What should you do instead?

Run.  Sprint. Shuffle.  Get in the fast break drill.  Play some defense!

How about some shots? How about doing some drills to move effectively from post to post?  Or some band walks?  Or some squats? Or some gym work? Or some shots? Or some shots? Or some shots?

By trying to get too specific your missing out on so many other learning points that you could be taught about the game.  Why would I want to have you put your stick down and try something different?

There are some ladder drills you can do that are ok, but most are not.


It is time for lacrosse goalie coaching to get out of the stone age. There is ZERO reason to do ANY of these four drills that I have listed here. You are either creating good habits or you are creating bad habits. Stop being a lazy coach, or a lazy parent, or a lazy goalie for that matter. There is no time to waste. If I can help you…then reach out.  Let’s make this season your best ever.



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