Question: I am in 8th grade and its my 2nd year being goalie. I play lax for 2 teams. I am the only goalie for my school team, but for my county team there are 3 9th graders who get to play a lot more than me because they are older. There have been many games when I have shown up with my equipment but not gotten to play at all during a practice or game. I got sick of never playing and spending the games and practices sitting on the sidelines. My coach needed another field player so I was put on offense and I actually did really well. Was it a bad decision to volunteer for offense, should I have waited it out until I was put in goal?
Answer: Hey there Haley. There are no bad decisions in life. Just decisions we can learn from..
What I mean by that is, do you still want to play goal? I’m guessing you will say yes. And that’s totally fine. I would have probably done what you did. Going to all of those practices and not playing at all can seem like a waste of time so by playing in the field you’re at least getting some work done.
Were you getting a warm up at least? I spent a lot of time backing up older goalies when I went to other teams. It was frustrating. But I always learned something. I would always back up the cage while they were being warmed up so I could get used to the speed of the shots they were taking. I’d stand right behind the cage and act like I was taking the shot myself. When I got in the cage the speed of the ball was no problem because I had practiced it so much. When the game started and I was on the bench, I would take stats or go behind the cage and watch from there. That way I could see what was happening on the field. What the offenses looked like. Where our defense was screwing things up. And how the field looked on clears and rides.
Now, my question is this…and it’s a tough one. Are those older goalies playing because they are older? or because they are better? I find a lot of younger goalies give up because they are frustrated they don’t get to play, but what is happening is that they just haven’t developed yet to a point where they can play yet. Now if that’s the case, I would play offense during the games but I would bust my butt in warm ups to prove to the coach that I deserve a shot at playing.
I tell every goalie what I’m about to tell you…talk to the coaches. There must be a coach or two that you can talk to who you can ask, “Coach, what do I have to improve with my game to be the starter?” It’s a simple question but it will bring back some very truthful answers that will help you develop as a goal keeper. The coach should tell you things that will help you get better. It’s a simple but very powerful question.
The other thing I tell goalies, especially ones at your grade level is…right now you see three 9th graders ahead of you. But what I see is four goalies. Each day those four goalies have an opportunity to improve their game. I may not be able to play them all today but over time many things can happen. The fourth goalie can go to camp, or learn from a website, or read a book, or get stronger physically so that next week, next month or next year I will be stupid NOT to play them. Does that make sense?
I would have done the same thing as you if I knew that I just wansn’t there yet. I’m I’m not strong enough to play because there are some good goalies out there that I’m not better than yet, then I’m going to at least want to get some exercise. I played every position on the field at one point in my career. Always looking to improve physically and mentally. But when I had a chance I was right back in the cage.
Hope that helps Haley. Let me know what you think. Talk to your parents too and see how they feel. I’m a pretty positive guy so there is always an upside to any decision. Never good or bad. Just a decision.
Jonathan – The Goalie Guru