Coach Jonathan Edwards gives goalies advice on keeping their practices enjoyable. He points out that padding up can prevent lacrosse goalies from developing a fear of the ball. Coach Edwards reminds goalies that their shooters aren’t as accurate as those in the ML, so they shouldn’t be afraid to protect themselves. Coach includes tips on making practice more fun for goalies.


1:01 – Goalies are made in the backyard.
1:42 – Padding up can be important so goalies don’t start to fear the ball.
2:25 – Using miscellaneous sports equipment, like hockey and football pads, can help lacrosse goalies.
3:46 – Old tennis balls don’t hurt and keep practice fun.


Hey everybody, it’s Coach Edwards from and Got a great question today from Chase in Pennsylvania. Chase says:

Dear Coach,

 Thanks so much for your website and all the great blog posts. I’ve learned so much from reading your stuff.

 Thanks Chase.

I really want to be a good goalie, so I get my friends together to shoot on me, usually after school and on the weekends. We play in  my back yard, where I have a net. But recently I have started not to like it. The truth is, the ball really hurts. One of my friends is really good, and he doesn’t hit me, only when he tries something tricky and close. But my other friends are not as good and they tend to hit me. A lot. What can I do to like this more? I like playing with my friends and want to be in the cage, but recently it’s started to suck. Thank you for your time, Coach.


Chase in Pennsylvania

Goalies Are Made In The Backyard

Chase, great question, and good on you for getting in the backyard. I was thinking goalies are made in the backyard, and it’s true. Just get out with your buddies in  your backyard with a net and that’s where you’re going to learn a ton. But I do understand how it can hurt.

What ends up happening is, as you mentioned, your inexperienced shooters are going to hit you more than your experienced shooters. This is one of my arguments with young goalies when they see college goalies and major league lacrosse goalies out there wearing practically next to nothing. They want to look cool like their ML counterparts. They wear next to nothing, but then the shooters aren’t as accurate so they get hurt. That can really affect your confidence.

Padding Up To Avoid Becoming Fearful Of The Ball

There are only a couple of things we can do here. One is, you can pad up. What I mean by that is you can get loaded up with equipment that protects you so that if you do get hit, you don’t get hurt and you don’t get fearful of the ball. Because that’s the reality of this – if you’re fearful of the ball, you’re going to focus on the pain and not on stopping the ball, and we don’t want that.

In a practice situation with your buddies, just pad up. Have fun with it. What’s amazing is if you have fun with it and you pad up, you’re like a gladiator in the cage, then you’re going to have no fear of the ball and you’re going to be able to focus on the ball and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Using Hockey Equipment To Protect Lacrosse Goalies

The funniest example of this I’ve seen however, which was really cool, and I lost the photo, a kid put on his chest protector, put on football shoulder pads, looked like just an absolute tank, but he never got hurt. He enjoyed practice. Before that he hated practice. Put the shoulder pads on, he now loved practice because nothing hurt him.

I used to be a hockey goalie. One of the things that I’ve suggested to some parents recently is that they go on Ebay or go somewhere, you’re in Pennsylvania, but if there’s a hockey store that sells used hockey equipment, go buy a hockey goalie upper body protector. What that has is, it has a one piece shoulder and arm guard, and the arm guard is really protective for shots that get you in through the elbow. Wear that. It’ll be hot but again, you’ll be fine.

If you’re getting hit in the legs, throw on hockey pants. Just for practice. Again, this isn’t going to be a fulltime gig. Throw on some hockey pants. Throw on some shin guards. If there’s a spot in particular that you’re getting hit, pad it up so you don’t have to worry about it.

Seasoned Tennis Balls Keep The Joy In Practice

My other favorite tip for this though is to use tennis balls. If you’ve got a tennis center near where you play, or a place that teaches tennis, they will have old tennis balls. They’ll usually either give them to you or sell them for really cheap. What I like to do with those is I like to leave them outside, especially in the winter where they’re going to get snowed on and they’re going to get cold and they’re going to go warm. What happens is, they’re going to go dead.

What’s great about dead tennis balls is they have very little bounce and they lose the fuzz on them too. So for your buddies who are shooting the ball, the ball doesn’t feel kind of fluffy in their stick, they can get a shot off pretty similar to what they’re going to shoot with a lacrosse ball. That way you can get in the cage with just your regular helmet, chest protector and cup and gloves, and even if you take a shot off the shins it’s probably not going to hurt you. If you get hit in the thigh, probably not going to hurt you. It may still hurt but throw on a pair of sweatpants and you’re fine. It’ll also help your buddies who shoot. So keep that in mind.


This is a great question. The other option is to have them move back to shoot so you have more time to react to the ball, but in a backyard you might not have that much space. One of those options is going to help. Either pad up, get some tennis balls in there, or have them move back so you have more time to react to the ball. Either way you want it to be fun. If it’s no longer fun and you’re worried about getting hurt, you could be doing more harm than good. I don’t want to see that happen for you, Chase.

If you’ve got a recipe for success in your backyard, send it to me, I’d love to hear it. I’m Do me a favor and Facebook, share this, like it, Tweet it, leave me a comment below, just right here on the blog, and we can further the conversation on some of your best tips for playing in your backyard. I appreciate it, as always.

Coach Edwards at and I’ll talk to you soon.

Recommended Resource

The Lacrosse Goalie’s Guide To Visualization Audiobook

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