Question: Good afternoon Jon,

My name is (Coaches name witheld) and I was given your info from the varsity coach from (School name witheld) High School Women’s Lacrosse program in Michigan. I am a coach for two local girl’s lacrosse clubs; (witheld) Lacrosse and (witheld) Girls Lacrosse Club.

I am writing this email with the hope that you can provide advice for a troubling issue I am having with one of our 8th grade goalies. The athlete in question has been playing lacrosse four years, of which the last three years have been exclusively as a goalie for the two aforementioned clubs. The issue is this: Whenever a shooter is inside the 8-meter arc and circling tight around the front of the crease, our goalie leans forward, bending at the waist, reaches out and appears to try to use her goalie stick to poke check the shooter’s stick. The result has been invariably that her poke check fails to reach the shooter who simply shoots the ball over the top of the goalie, into the upper net of the cage. When I speak with our goalie afterward, she says she does not realize she is bending at the waist, and states she is merely reacting to the shooter.

During recent conversations with other area coaches and collegiate goalies I meet at camps, I am told our goalie is not remaining patient but I have yet to find a solution that will break our goalie of this bad habit. I have had numerous discussions with the goalie about ‘playing big’ and stepping out towards the shooter to take away shooting angles when the shooter is tight to the crease, however, she continues to inexplicably bend over and attempt a poke check while claiming she doesn’t realize she is doing so.

Do you have any advice or recommendations for training drills/discussions that might help me break this goalie of this maddening habit?

Thank you for your time and mentoring! It is greatly appreciated,



Ron thanks for the email and sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

First thing: Video. You have to get video of this goalie doing what she is doing to show it to her. Right now here ability to perceive what she is doing is not matching up with reality. Unless you can show it to her she has no way of internalizing what she is doing versus what needs to happen. So video is huge.

Secondly: She should not be poke checking at all. She just shouldn’t. One way to show this is with what I call a string drill. Go to Home Depot and get some colored twine on a spool. They come in pink or orange color. What you need to do is run a string from the top of your stick to the cross bar. This is the line that the ball can take to go into the cage. If she stays back in the cage she won’t have to move that much to touch the string (and therefore save the ball). If she bends down, or steps out away from the cage she will see that she needs to move a lot more to stop the ball. She may not be able to reach the string at all to stop the ball.

The best way to teach a goalie with a longstanding problem is to show that goalie visually and physically what it is they are doing. I learned this trick from my days as an Olympic athlete. We video’d everything so we could take what we were feeling and reset it in our brain so that our feelings had something to refer to. Otherwise it just felt “fine.” And then it’s the coaches word versus the athletes and that’s just confrontational.

Hope that helps Ron. Please feel free to pass on this answer to any coaches that you know so that it can help them with their goalies. And as always, make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter at

Jonathan – The Goalie Guru



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