Today’s lacrosse goalie tip is all about confidence.  We got a great question from an eighth grade lacrosse goalie who has been asked to play varsity next year. This is a big “ask” for a young lacrosse goalie, but Coach Edwards lays out just how this can be a successful experience.

Building Confidence In A Young/New Lacrosse Goalie

[00:00:00] All right .   Coach Edwards here with and Got a great question on our YouTube channel this week from Jackson. He said, “I’ve been watching your videos since I started playing and you’ve helped me so much, but I’m in eighth grade and I’m going to be in high school in the next couple of months. The varsity coach has been watching me play since I was 12. He really wants me to play varsity freshman year but I don’t have the confidence of playing with seniors and I’m trying out for 9 and 10 grade prep team. How can I improve my confidence?

I’ve Been Through This Same Goalie Situation

[00:00:38] OK well, Jackson listen, this is a great question and something that’s kind of near and dear to my heart because this is basically what I went through when I was in 8th grade. I started high school to Thayer Academy in Braintree, Massachusetts and they didn’t have lacrosse progra. My first year, the high school had a J.V. team that played against other teams that played like the kind of sub-varsity, so Grade 11 and down. And so I was in eighth grade. It was a big jump. That was four years playing up against kids who were four years older. And for me, in that school, I was actually in the middle school, playing with kids in the high school. So I totally understand what it’s like to be playing with kids who are a lot older than you.Building Confidence In a Young/New Lacrosse Goalie

[00:01:26] I want to cover a couple of things. You may or may not be in the situation if you’re watching this video. You may or may not be in this situation specifically but you’re going to learn a lot f rom what I have to have say, about confidence and how to keep it and how to build it. And so when I talk about a couple of things, you can apply them to your game. Take what you want leave what you don’t. And hopefully this helps.

Having Confidence In Your Ability To Save The Ball

[00:01:47] Jackson. Listen I really appreciate the question. And so first and foremost I want to talk about confidence from the lacrosse “saving” type of situation. Like you, just you on the field, playing the sport lacrosse, against a shooter. It doesn’t matter who that shooter is. It doesn’t matter if the ball gets shot out of a cannon. Really, the person who’s on the other side of that stick doesn’t really matter. So the first part of this video we’re in to focus on just that.

Your Three Key Abilities Will Dictate Your Success

[00:02:16] So when it comes to saving a ball and having confidence and saving a ball, basically, there’s three, three abilities that you need to have one is a physical ability like your ability to stand there and move and make a save. You also have a technical ability which is like understanding technique and how to move the ball, and if you’ve been playing for a while it sounds like you’ve probably got a lot of that handled. You also have a tactical ability like you know after you make a sale like what where are you going to make that outlet pass? And understanding, like what are the, what does the offense do? What happens on a fast break? How are you going to handle fast break. How are you going to tell the D to move?

Do You Believe In Your Abilities?

[00:02:56] So those three key abilities are kind of where we start and then we wrap that all in your belief in those abilities. So if your belief in your abilities is kind of weak. Basically the first thing we look at is like well in your 3 key abilities your physical tactical and tactical what are you concerned about? What parts of those…and you can rate yourself in each of those abilities and decide, well, you know, maybe you’re small? Maybe you’re short? But I can guarantee you that if you weren’t a good goalie the Varsity coach probably wouldn’t be looking at you to play . So you’ve got to have some confidence that the coach sees some good things in you and that should make you feel good.

Moving In Front Of The Ball Will Be Hard, At First

[00:03:43] All right. So we we layer these three key abilities also with the three keys to making any save. And so I’ll link to that below this video is a video on my blog. Just go to my blog L and search for “three keys”. You’ll see it. But the three keys to making any save are 1) you’ve got to see the ball. 2) You have to know where it’s going and 3) you’ve got to move to it. Now the thing that really kind of holds young goalies back is that “the move to the ball part” moving in front of the ball part is their weakest point because, physically, you’re a lot younger than those kids who are you know 9 10 11 Grade 12 ahead of you. So three or four years ahead of you. And that’s totally understandable, that can be, that can be scary at times. Or you can just be like, “You know, hey, I know I’m not going make those saves because I’m going to be able to see them and know where they’re going but I’m going to get kind of overwhelmed by all this and the faster shots and things like that”.

When You Feel Safe You Confidence Immediately Goes Up

[00:04:41] So one of the best ways to kind of to solve that you may have heard me talk about this before is 1) protection. So, pad up. Get some baseball shin guards on, get some football thigh pads on. Get some shoulder pads on with the shoulder caps. Get some sweatpants on. No one’s going to know the difference. Get out there, especially between now and the fall. Get with some older players and just get shot on. Get with some adults and have them shoot on you. Because I can guarantee you, that with just a little bit of practice you’re going to see that you can make some of those saves if not a lot more than you think.

Get Out Of Your Head And Get Practicing

[00:05:22] What happens is that right now, the term we use is “you’re in your head” As an athlete when all of our thought is basically in our head, and we’re not on the field, we get nervous. We get fearful. We just don’t know what’s going to happen. And what tends to happen is we disaster-ize the situation. What that means when we disaster – ize a situation is we think the worst possible thing. You’re going to get hit with a ball, or they’re all going to go in, or you’re going to get hit in the nuts. Like whatever. You think of the worst case scenario and that worst case scenario rarely happens.

Don’t “Disaster-ize” The Situation

[00:06:02] So the best way to minimize “disasterization” is to get out and play. And play with older kids. OK. So so pad yourself up get in front of those shots, at first. And see how you do. And then as you go you can shed the equipment. You can maybe shed the shoulder pads.

Work On The Result. Not On Looking Cool

[00:06:25] When I started playing in 5th grade the school I was at had a rule that I had to wear shoulder pads, elbow pads, hockey pants, and shin guards. So I was bulletproof. Right? But what it did was it allowed me to focus on the ball and because it was a rule that all the goalies had to do that there was no question. And there was no peer pressure. The other players on the team, the middies and the attack m en, they didn’t care because it’s just the way goalies do their thing. And I understand that you might be running in a situation where you don’t do that because you don’t think you’re gonna look cool. All right.

Good, Young Goalies, Tend To Play “Up”

[00:07:04] So that brings me to the other part of this scenario where the coach wants you to play varsity. All right. So lot of programs. If they’re weak at goalie and they have a promising young goalie, like in this case, Jackson. What happens is the coach goes, “Hmm I’ll take that kid and we’ll make it work with him.”

[00:07:32] But they don’t take into consideration all of the protection mechanisms of a young goalie. And what I mean by that is not just protecting a goalie by padding them up, but protecting that young goalie and creating an environment where they can succeed. And I’m going to shoot another video on that specific topic. So later you can google ” creating an environment of successful across goalies” and you’ll find it.

Talk To Your Coach And Gameplan

[00:07:59] But in this situation you need to go to the coach, sit down with the coach and maybe your parents come too, it depend depends the relationship. I get it. But you go to the coach and say, “Listen I really appreciate you want me to play. I’m just a little concerned about a couple of things.”

[00:08:17] A good coach is going to be wowed by the fact that you’re doing that right. You go to them. You sit down with them. You grab them at lunch or grab them after school and say, “Hey Coach, listen, I really appreciate that you want…you want to do that with me and you want me to play but I’m a little nervous about a couple of things.” and you lay it out for the coach.

[00:08:37] Now if the coach is really good, he’s already going to know these things. He’s going to know that a young goalie is going to be nervous around all these seniors. Right? He’s going to be nervous that he’s going to get hit. He’s going to be nervous that he doesn’t play very well and then the other kids, the older kids, are going to, they’re going to heckle him and hassle him and sometimes bully the young goalie. And I hate those stories because that’s a sign that the coach has totally lost control.

You Will Have Support From The Team

[00:09:01] But between the coach and the captains on a team, with a young goalie, the team should really rally around the young goalie and realize that guys, we gotta do our part as defense and middies and attack. Not to give up shots that our goalie can’t save. And so this is a point where you, as a young goalie, can really help a high school team because it forces them to go, “You know what guys? If we’re good enough, the goalie, we don’t even need a goalie, right? But we got Jackson in there and we got to do our part for him.”

[00:09:33] And so it can be a real rallying point for a young goalie so don’t, don’t, dismiss that that’s something that can happen too.

[00:09:40] In terms of speed-of-shot. Get out of your head. Get playing. Like I mentioned before. Take those shooters, first and foremost, and move them back. Give you give them distance. So you have time to know where the shots going and then can move in front of it safely.

The Syracuse Lacrosse Camp That Changed Everything For Me

[00:10:03] I remember high school I went to the Syracuse lacrosse camp. Gary and Paul Gait were playing at the time. For those of you watching this that’ll totally date me, I get it. But Gary Gait shot on me. Full shots from outside the restraining line. So we’re talking like 25, 30 yards away. But he could crank it but because I had so much time to see the ball and move in front of it properly. My eyes were getting used to this ball coming and my hands were getting used to the speed that the speed with which that ball would hit my stick. Once I got in front of it. And then as the summer progressed, as I kept playing, those players could move further and further up. Closer to me. And so then, I was stopping shots at 20 yards and 18 and 15. To the point where it guys you know high school age seniors who had time and room shots. . .I stopped everything from outside .   And that was awesome. But that only comes with progression.

Progression Solves Everything

[00:11:00] So as a young goalie , actually, as ANY goalie with a new team, making that jump up, you need that time where there’s progression. And your coach needs to understand that so that you feel safe in the cage so you can focus on stopping the ball. OK?

Get In The Gym

[00:11:17] Things like outlet passes, you can totally do that. You should totally be able to do that now. But a little bit of strength over the summer, that’ll really help you. All right, another tip, get in the gym. Over the summer. Between now and then. Really embrace the idea that you’re going to get stronger physically. Join a CrossFitt gym. Get a r ound a bunch of power lifters. If you’ve got an Olympic Weightlifting Club in your neighbourhood. Start working on flexibility and getting stronger because as you get stronger physically that ball has less of an effect on you and so that’s really important.

You Can Do This

[00:11:51] All right. So I hope this helps. There’s a lot to think about here. But really, when you’re trying to build confidence, you gotta get out of your head and you’ve got to be playing and working towards a goal. But first you have to identify what about this is making is not making you feel the greatest? What are you not confident about? Is it getting bullied by older kids? Is it about getting pressure, or getting hurt? Is it about not knowing the plays? Those are all things easy to fix. But get with the coach who has already given you a thumbs up by saying hey listen I want you to play varsity next year. That’s a huge pat on the back. Obviously you’re doing something right or that coach wouldn’t be saying that.

[00:12:40] I don’t care if you’re the only goalie in the school. For a coach to say, “Hey listen, we want you to play varsity.” He’s not trying to make a middie a goalie. He’s looking to you. That’s a good sign. All right. So get with him and go, “Listen. What do I need to work on to make this the best possible situation? Here’s what I think, as a lacrosse goalie, here’s what I think I’m weak on and here’s what I’m nervous about. Coach What can you do to help me.? What should I do to work on this.?

[00:13:06] When you have a good dialogue with your coach right. And he knows you’re working and you know he’s helping you then that’s the best recipe for success.

[00:13:15] So I wish you all the best. Listen if you’ve got a question for me e-mail me Stay tuned. I’ve got a little clip after this coming through about my new book, and I’ll see you in the next video. Cheers.


Coach Edwards

Coach Edwards

Head Coach

Olympian Jonathan Edwards is "Coach Edwards".  He runs the longest consecutively running lacrosse goalie blog on the planet.  He is the "behind the scenes goalie mind" for some of the top lacrosse goalies on the planet and he has worked with lacrosse goalies from Junior High, to the PLL.  He coaches goalies privately, year round, via video and phone through his Lacrosse Goalie University goalie coaching program.  Don't wait for the summer to get to a camp and don't hire some local college kid who is home on break. Get unbiased goalie coaching from the coach who is changing the game, one goalie at a time.

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