Coach Jonathan Edwards receives a question from a frustrated goalie who is tired of being blamed for losing the game. Coach explains that a goalie’s performance can’t be graded by the scoreboard and stresses the importance of goalies communicating with their defense. Coach Edwards gives advice on how to bring a goalie’s concerns to their coach and how goalies themselves should act as in-game coaches.

0:12 – A frustrated goalie shares her experience of defense who won’t slide and blame her for losing.
1:00 – If the team was so great, they wouldn’t need a goalie.
1:35 – Goalies have unique relationships to the game and act as in-game coaches.
2:29 – What happens when defensemen are overwhelmed.
3:00 – Each person on defense has their own issues to deal with.
4:03 – Goalies should be graded on save percentage, not the game’s scoreboard.
5:00 – Believe you can make every save, even if the shot is point blank.
5:25 – Talking to your coach about your concerns.
6:00 – The importance of goalie communication.
6:22 – Your team can’t win if the offense doesn’t score.


Hey guys, it’s Coach Edwards here with and, and I got an interesting one this week from Lily. It’s a little long but I’m going to read it to you. It says:

Lily’s Question

I was wondering if there’s something you told goalies when the other team is shooting point blank on the goalie and the goalie has no help. Here’s why I’m asking. The other day we were playing a game, and I was in goal and the score was 7 – nothing, and I kept telling my defense to slide. I’m a lightning for girl’s lacrosse, and they just kept ignoring me and the girl kept coming down with no pressure on her and shot point blank on me.

I was mad at my defense, of course, who wouldn’t be, but asked them politely if they could slide next time and they said sure, but they didn’t slide. I reminded them to slide when the girl was coming but they just ignored me again. I hate it when people ignore me! We lost the game but the team blamed me for losing the game. Hey, I tried my hardest out there, so shut up and stop complaining because you’re not making the risky move of playing goalie where you could die if a ball hits you just the right way and stop your heart. Please get back to me.

If A Team Is So Great, They Wouldn’t Need A Goalie

Great question. Or great experience, statement, whatever. A couple of things I want to talk about here. One, lacrosse is a team game. You’ve heard me say this. If your team was so damn good, they wouldn’t need a goalie. Lily’s got a little bit of that here, which I appreciate, and I’ve been through this too. I remember going through high school, especially like my sophomore and junior year when the defense I had was really not that good. I got really frustrated because I had bigger goals. I wanted to be a better player and it was really frustrating when the guys around me weren’t really up to that standard.

Goalies As Coaches

One of the things I really had to scale back, I really had to be patient all the time, and I had to go to my coach and say, “Listen, we’re not really doing this, the D aren’t doing this, is there something that we can do to really get that going?” Because when it’s the goalie, the goalie has a really unique relationship with their teammates. They’re not perceived as a coach because they’re not on the sideline wearing the whistle, but when they’re on the field, a goalie really is a coach.

Lacrosse is one of the only sports where a goalie is responsible for teaching and directing the defense to move to the ball, to slide and basically leave their player and slide to the ball at the goalie’s discretion. When the goalie feels like there’s a threat, meaning that the shooter is now a threat, then the goalie needs to yell slide and the defenseman needs to go.

When Defenders Are Maxed Out

I did a post a little while ago about defenders being maxed out, like picture a glass of water that you’re going to put water into for each one of these things. First of all, the defender needs to know where to be on the field. There’s some water. Then the defender needs to know where the ball is. There’s some more water. Then the defender needs to know how to hold their stick and how to slide and how to move their body position, and that glass is filling.

It’s Easy To Get Overwhelmed On The Field

The thing is, for each one of those things that defender has to remember, they’re pouring their own water in there. For a defender who is really athletic and can move really easily, the concept of having good position might just be like a little drop of water in their glass. But for others, it’s a lot, and eventually that glass is going to overflow even before they’re trying to listen to the goalie tell them where to go. At that point they are so maxed out and they don’t know what to do, and they’re just overwhelmed.

Defenders Are In Their Own World

I had a goalie from China who wrote me with the same question with their defense. You’ve got to realize that those defenders out there, they’ve got their own stuff going on in their head, they’ve got their own issues. They might have failed their math test today. Their parents might be getting a divorce. You don’t know these things. Every defender on your field is dealing with different stuff in their head, so when you as the goalie ask them to slide, they’re just going to be kind of like, “Ah, whatever.”

Grading Goalies On Save Percentage

Lily, you’ve done the right thing here by being polite. Now the thing about the defenders blaming you for losing the game, first off, as a coach, if I hear any of that in my team, I nip it in the bud right now. It’s really easy to look at the goalie and the goalie’s “mistake” supposedly shows up on the scoreboard. But the thing is, Lily, is that your grade for your game is your save percentage.

You’ve heard me talk about this before. Your grade is your save percentage. If your team is letting up like 30-40 shots a game, and you’re losing by 7, that’s a pretty good save percentage. If your team is letting up 10 shots a game and you’re letting in 7, there probably could be some improvement there. You’ve got to walk away from your defenders and basically say, “My grade for today was a 50% or 60% or 70%, which in women’s lacrosse is phenomenal.

Point Blank Shots

As far as those shots coming from point blank, you’ve got to believe you can stop every ball, and you’ve got to work on those and practice, but there are shots that obviously have a higher percentage of going in than don’t. A shot that’s point blank? Obviously harder to save than a shot that’s from 8 yards or 8 meters and beyond, right? That’s where you’ve got to not let this negativity get to you.

Talking To The Coach

I would sit down with your coach and go, “Coach, listen. This is what I’m doing in the game, this is what’s happening. What can I do to be better? Is there something maybe that the defense can do?” Maybe it’s something that your coach hasn’t even addressed in practice. Some coaches, but I would think for you, you’d have a little bit of a higher standard for a coach here, but some coaches are overwhelmed as well. They haven’t taught their D what to do or they haven’t taught their defense to listen to the goalie and how.

Goalie Communication

In my Lacrosse Goalie University program on my membership site, I’ve got a whole section on goalie communication. What I recommend for coaches and parents and athletes is to get into Lacrosse Goalie University and watch that and talk, literally just address with the defense and the goalie that this is what the goalie’s going to call, and why and when, and this is what the defense needs to do.


You Can’t Win If The Offense Doesn’t Score


If the goalie calls slide and the defense doesn’t go, that’s the defense’s problem. If the goalie calls slide and the defense goes, and then something else happens, it’s an equal opportunity to learn. Maybe that slide didn’t have to happen. Maybe the defense is just really bad.


So Lily, you’ve got a lot of stuff to deal with here. This is a pretty wide open question. I think that you’re handling it pretty well. Don’t get frustrated with their negativity, look at the positives. Look at your save percentage for the game. How did you do today? What was your save percentage? Was it a good day or was it a bad day? For a team that loses 7-0 to blame the goalie, I would disagree. You can’t win a game if the offense doesn’t score. Even if it’s 1-0. If it’s 1-0, that’s a pretty good day on your part.




Lily, I appreciate the question. If this rang true with you and you’ve got a similar experience, please do me a favor and leave a comment below. Don’t be shy. I get a lot of emails after these and I really wish we had comments below, because we could then further the discussion on the website, which I really love. And do me a favor. Facebook it, share it, like it, do all those good things. I would really appreciate it.


By all means, if you’re not a member of Lacrosse Goalie University yet, I would love to see you in there. I do my best to offer as much free advice as possible, but there are so many resources on Lacrosse Goalie University. So click on the link at the top here to join Lacrosse Goalie University. I’d love to see you in there. There’s hours and hours of coaching there. We do office hours and you can call in and get me live, things like that. It’s too much for me to list here but I would love to see you inside Lacrosse Goalie University. So take some time and join up, especially before the season which is coming up pretty quick here.


Lily, thanks for the question. If you’ve got a similar experience leave a comment below, and by all means, if you’ve got another question that you’d like to see me answer, email me at and I’ll try to answer that in a future video. Cheers! Thanks.



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