1:23 – Lacrosse is constantly changing and needs some improvements.
1:55 – With the improvements in technology, goalies need to catch up.
3:27 – Things need to change, because lacrosse goalies are in danger.
4:12 – Protection isn’t keeping up with the velocity of shots.
5:00 – If goalies embrace equipment, everything will go their way.
5:48 – The lacrosse goalie of the future will make saves however is necessary.
7:37 – Goalies are going to get lit up with higher shots.
9:00 – Goalies will have to work harder to make up for their dominant hand position.
9:53 – Goalies are going to evolve and become more proactive.

Introduction to The Lacrosse Goalie Of The Future

Hey guys. It’s Coach Edwards and LacrosseGoalieTips.com and LacrosseGoalieUniversity.com. This week I have probably my most controversial post: What the lacrosse goalie of the future is going to look like. Over the years, I’ve been doing this for a long time now, and I think one of the things that has really helped me as a coach is dealing with goalies, not just within one area but all over the world. I get emails every week from goalies somewhere in the world and many of them are members of our private Facebook Group: Creating The Lacrosse Goalie of the Future.

What’s interesting is that I get to see a lot of commonalities. I get to see a lot of challenges, a lot of problems. What’s always fascinating to me is I get a lot of the same questions, no matter if that’s coming from Long Island, some of those traditional hotbeds like upstate New York, or some of the newer hotbeds like Minnesota. Shout out to all my guys in the middle of America. I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately from those parents. The game is really exploding, which I love, so congratulations to all of you.

Improvements For the Lacrosse Goalie Of The Future Are Needed

Here’s the thing. I think the game of lacrosse is at a big crossroads because the game has grown so fast. With the introduction of offset heads years ago, and the introduction of strength and conditioning and training for young athletes, we’re seeing kids bigger, faster, and stronger than ever, both men and women. The lacrosse goalie position as you’ve heard me say, hasn’t really evolved much.

Goalies Don’t Have As Much Of A Chance

I was on the phone with Larry Quinn, who I grew up watching play at Johns Hopkins. One of the best goalies of all time. He sent me a picture of his chest protector, which looked like an oversized bandaid. He found it in his attic, and I thought hey, it’s kind of interesting because fundamentally it wasn’t much different than the chest protector I wore like 20-30 years later. That to me kind of shows that there’s a problem brewing, with lacrosse goaltending specifically, because the game is improving to the point where a lacrosse goalie doesn’t have as much of a chance to stop the ball as they used to when sticks had different pockets in them, guys weren’t as well trained, girls weren’t as well trained, etc.

The Lacrosse Goalie Position Needs To Change

What I wanted to talk about today was where I see the lacrosse goalie of the future going and what that’s going to look like. This is probably almost as controversial as my “Why stepping to the ball is wrong” post, but I hope you’ll read this and you’ll share it and you’ll comment below. Let’s talk about this and get some changes happening here. This needs to happen or else it’s not going to be a lot of fun watching lacrosse games when a lot of shots go into the net.

The Lacrosse Goalie Position Is Confused

What are we?  A goalie? Or a player?  In no other sport where the ball is as dense, or moves as fast with such accuracy does a goalie wear such small amounts of protection.  As I’ve mentioned before on this blog a lacrosse goalie wasn’t even made to wear a chest protector until the late 80’s.  A goalie in ice hockey wears more as well as field hockey and those shots aren’t NEARLY as complicated as they are for a lacrosse goalie.

But in those two sports goalies don’t roam like a lacrosse goalie does and this is where the problem begins.  Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE that a lacrosse goalie can run.  I love that they can draw and dump to an open man, that they can be an offensive threat.  But when it comes to the lacrosse goalie of the future, we might have to get rid of some of the things we love for the greater good of the game.

In sports like soccer and handball a goalie wears nothing different than a field player with the exception of gloves (soccer) and er…nothing for handball.  If you haven’t ever seen a handball goalie look here. But in handball there are even limits put on the distance a player can shoot at the net.  And in both sports the size of the ball and the typical speed and distance of the shots are safe enough for what a goalie wears, although in both sports (especially indoor soccer and handball) you could argue they need a helmet with what we now know about concussions.

So for lacrosse goalies I like to point out that we dress goalies like players even though they spend most of their time stopping shots.  Yet if you took every player on the field and put them in the cage they would ALL be looking for more protection.

Lacrosse Goalies Are In DangerThe Lacrosse Goalie Of The Future Will Play Like This

Now I’m not trying to sensationalize anything because I’ve been around this sport for way too long…but, I’ll be the first one to say it…lacrosse goalies are in danger.  The first thing the lacrosse goalie of the future is going to embrace is protection. You only need to look at protection in other sports as where a lacrosse goalie is really going to fit in. I’m not talking about protection just for their own protection against impact and bruising, although I think that’s really important, because I think what we’re going to see soon is, unfortunately, we’re going to see a high powered shooter take a shot from like 12 yards and hook it right into a goalie’s chest, and that goalie is going to drop dead because they’re not going to have enough equipment on.

But it’s not just the chest I’m worried about.  Lacrosse goalie parents know the risks of Commotio Cordis, but we also need to be concerned about the bruising and damaging impact a ball can have on the body, even a small body.  I have talked with numerous pro goalies who have all told me about the damage they have experienced.  From nerve damage, to broken blood vessels, to concussions…it’s not necessary and it all comes down to being lazy and culturally driven by peer pressure.

Lacrosse Goalie Protective Equipment Isn’t Keeping Up With Velocity

Maybe we’ll see broken collar bones, broken ribs, things like that. These things already happen. But we’re going to see something pretty major happen, and I don’t like to throw that out there, but as a parent I know it’s coming. The protection, and also the culture of protection, is not keeping pace with the velocity of the shots. That’s one thing. The goalie is not going to look at it just for their own protection. The lacrosse goalie of the future is going to embrace protection as a way to stop more balls just like hockey goalies evolved to stop more pucks. Hockey goalies went from a stand up style to a butterfly style. Nowadays, you cannot have a goalie with a stand up style who plays hockey. They’re just not good enough.

Now I’m NOT talking about dressing field lacrosse goalies like box lacrosse goalies or hockey goalies.  That’s not necessary and I don’t think it’s true to the game.  But we CAN dress a lacrosse goalie like a motocross rider, a baseball catcher, or by evolving the game and looking for other protective options and adapting them to our game.

More Protection Allows Young Emerging Lacrosse Goalies To Focus on Ball Stopping

So why don’t lacrosse goalies wear more equipment?  Peer pressure.  That’s it really.  They don’t want to look…uncool.  And there are coaches out there who are “old school” who think a goalie should be “toughened up”.  It’s ironic because those coaches are rarely lacrosse goalies.

Young goalies want to look like their college age and pro-level peers, yet many of those goalies are in the cage cringing if they get hit.  The Lacrosse Goalie Of The Future will realize that by being protected they can now focus on the ball and learn quicker.  It’s simple really…if you understand the Three Keys to Making ANY Save, you’ll know that if we add a cloud of fear of being hit in there it will slow down the goalie.  It will retard their development.  And it can ultimately keep them from reaching their potential.

Lacrosse Goalies Will Embrace More Equipment

When hockey goalies evolved and their equipment evolved, the first thing you saw happen was hockey goalies started to cheat a little bit. Garth Snow, who played the University of Maine and was a New York islander really stretched this a lot. Those goalies would add gussets in their jersey or between their legs and their pants to catch pucks. Goalie equipment like leg pads got super wide. For lacrosse goalies, we wear practically nothing. What you’re going to see is goalies start to embrace equipment like catcher’s shin guards, or motocross shin guards, which is something that I’ve espoused for a really long time, which cover all the way up to the middle of your thigh and they cover the top of your foot too.

Lacrosse Goalies Will Make More Saves With The Closest Body Part (Not Just The Stick)

They’re going to embrace that, and this kind of goes into my Phase 2 of what the lacrosse goalie of the future is going to do. They’re going to migrate now to not trying to catch the ball with just their one hand. I envision your goalie stick, whether you’re a righty or a lefty, is like you have this big extended glove on that hand. We’re the only goalie in any sport who’s taught to try and catch everything with one hand, no matter where it’s shot on us.

I’m a righty goalie. If the ball’s shot to my left foot, we’re teaching kids to bring the stick all the way down to make the save. We’re not teaching kids to just put their foot there. We’re saying lead with the foot, but really, in the back of a lot of people’s heads we’re thinking, well lead with the foot but don’t make that a kick save. But in fact, we’re going to start to see that.

Using The Bottom Hand Like a Blocker In Hockey

We’re going to see goalies who start to embrace using their bottom hand, that glove, more as a blocker for shots on their off-stick side hip. I’m working on an advanced moving to the ball DVD. I’ve got the footage shot and I’m still just trying to wrap my head around the best way to share this. I’ve already shared this information with my Lacrosse Goalie University members. We’re going to see goalies start to use more of their body, like a hockey goalie, using the closest appendage to the ball. They’re going to move there first to make the save. Are they going to give up rebounds? Yes, but they’re going to be making saves. Are they going to be safer? Yes. Are save percentages going to change? I think so.

The Lacrosse Net Needs To Shrink

In 2014 I wrote about how lacrosse goalies were going to get beaten up top more and more.  Lots of goals are going to go in stick side high and off-stick high.  Why?  Because as velocity of shots increase and control of the ball with new sticks allows more accuracy, shooters are just going to let it rip and the strongest release point is high to high.  It’s where shooters get the most velocity so they will just sling it.  Mathmatically lacrosse goalies will be unable to move their stick fast enough to get in front of the ball, especially on off-stick high shots.  So here are some ideas on that and why I think it’s time for the net to shrink:

(Now this is outside of the control of the lacrosse goalie) but I think we need to shrink the net.  For a couple of reasons:

  1. Development: Out of all the sports, lacrosse goalies have the worst experience being developed because of the size of the net.  There are many programs who have adopted my suggestion of using smaller nets at younger ages, but I think we need to take it a step further and shrink the collegiate net.  Sports like soccer use smaller nets at varying ages and some would argue that those are too big and I would agree.  But with the size and pace of the ball it’s perfect for most kids.  But in lacrosse we are putting U8 and U10 kids in a 6x6 foot net and they have to compromise their base position by so much to guard the upper two feet of the cage they then have to un-learn everything they learned to play properly again.  It’s a waste of time that we can eliminate by shrinking the net.
  2. Protection: More goalies will get hit with the ball.  Wait. Wut? But Coach Edwards I thought you said goalies should wear more protection because they need to protect themselves more?  Why is getting hit by more balls a good thing? As I mentioned above, the lacrosse goalie position is confused.  They dress as a player like a midfielder or an attack man yet they are in the net more than they are in the field.  By shrinking the net, they will now be able to use their body more to make saves OR they will get hit more which will result in a lacrosse goalie wanting to wear more protection.
  3. Higher Save Percentages and Increased Rebounds Which Result in More Exciting Broken Plays: Let’s face it, when a good offense goes up against a defence it can get pretty boring.  Slow break, work it around, get it to X, run the play, alley dodge, etc.  It’s boring.  When that shot is finally taken we want to put more of a challenge on the offense.  I can tell by watching goalies now that they are covering too much net.  How do I know this?  Just look at the number of shots that go stick side high.  Of all the places that should be the easiest to save the goalie is getting lit up by shots that are passing one inch from where their stick is.  This isn’t good sport to me.  By shrinking the net we are going to have more saves AND more rebounds. It is during the rebound where lacrosse gets exciting.  We all love when an offense has to think quick and improvise and shrinking the net will do more of that.  AND lacrosse goalies will want to naturally wear more gear because they will take more shots off their body because they don’t have to move so far to make the save.

Defensemen Will Be Better Ball Carriers

Not a lacrosse goalie specific idea but important none the less.What’s going to be interesting is we’re going to see the ball on the ground more, and we’re going to see defensemen who are now better ball carriers. Back in the 90s when titanium shafts were brought into the game, thank you David Morrow, we saw defensemen who started to strip players, and the ball would be on the ground. We’re not seeing that a lot anymore. We’re seeing these very calculated offences that all of a sudden get the big shot from outside and they’re lighting goalies up

Lacrosse Goalies Will Start To Switch Hands

From a fundamental base percentage standpoint, the percentage of covering the net and having to move to the ball, if I’m a righty goalie and I’m on my right pipe, and the angle of the shot has moved and it’s a smaller angle shot, the odds of that shot coming to my right side to this near pipe has lessened. The odds of that shot going to my offstick is higher, so you’re going to see goalies starting to put their stick there.

I’m kind of sick already of seeing goalies who are right handed and they’re getting lit up by an attack man or a middie shooting from side right to their offstick hip, because they’re trying to move like this, they’re trying to get the stick all the way over there. That’s when you’re going to start to see goalies start to move that hand, move that stick into the hand where there’s a higher percentage of that ball to go.

The arguments against this are: 1) A goalie isn’t as good with their off hand, and 2) a lacrosse goalie needs to be able to give a quick outlet to a breaking player down the field.  Let’s address them both.

  1. A lacrosse goalie isn’t as good with their off hand.  My answer to this is “yet”.  The lacrosse goalie of the future may not be playing right now.  They will come into this sport working on both hands and will revolutionize the game.  Coaches who use this argument are stuck in the past and I have very little time for them.  The lacrosse goalie of the future will understand that it makes NO sense to try and stop every shot with basically ONE hand.
  2. It hinders quick outlet passes:  B.S.  In the time it takes for a goalie to make a save, have the team realize they are now clearing the ball, and then having those teammates get open, there is PLENTY of time for a lacrosse goalie to either switch back to their strong hand to make a pass OR, OR, OR…(now this is really some-kinda-crazy) they learn how to make an outlet pass with both hands! (Don’t even get me started)

Lacrosse Goalies of the Future Will Dictate Where The Shot is Going

Called “baiting” in most circles, a lacrosse goalie is no longer going to be a target.  They are going to shade to the side of the net that gives them the best chance of making the save.  A right handed goalie will move slightly left, a left handed goalie will move slightly right.  They will crouch low, or stand tall. . They will modify their stance to give them their highest base save percentage in a strategic attempt to get hit.

I call this “Offensive Goaltending” and I’m already seeing this with young goalies with more progressive goalie coaches.  Instead of playing “50/50” goaltending where they are giving equal opportunity to be shot around, they are going to play it like a hand of poker, with the understanding that there are higher percentages of places the ball will be shot and giving themselves an advantage to make those saves.

During this learning will they be caught off-guard sometimes?  Hell yes.  But that doesn’t mean that these ideas should be thrown away.  Because ultimately, finally, the lacrosse goalie of the future, will adapt to the new game of lacrosse which has been around since the mid 90’s!

Our Sport (And Our Thinking) Needs To Grow Up

Weekly I will hear from a parent or a goalie who talks about wanting to wear more equipment

Thanks for reading.  If you know a coach, a goalie, or a parent who this article might help please forward it on to them, and leave me a comment below.

Coach Edwards –


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