Defensive Communication for Goalies
Last week, we talked about the "hidden plays" that goalies can make in addition to saving the ball that lead to individual and team success. This concept of being a "playmaker" in addition to your role in the cage when the shot comes is central to everything we do at Foundation Lacrosse and the Dave Page Goalie School. This week, I want to highlight one of the things we briefly mentioned, Communication.
When we talk about communication, it is important to keep in mind that what we ask of our goalies changes and becomes more involved as goalies progress up from Youth levels up through College. At the youngest age, the bare minimum of communication is calling out ball position (Top right, X, etc), giving "Check!" calls, and getting the D to break out after saves. But as you move up, the ultimate goal is to use your communication to control and have a dialogue going with your entire defensive unit.
As you begin to realize that a player only wants to shoot with their R hand, you may start to tell your defender too stop a rollback when they dodge lefty down the alley, preventing the R rollback shot. When a defender is approaching the ball straight-up while you're defense is based on taking away topside sweeps, you need to tell that defender to step higher and force the alley. And who knows better than the goalie what shots they are comfortable taking in transition, holding the point defender in a fast break situation until the right moment, when the shooter is just about to get in their range.
All of this and so much more goes into being a true leader on defense, and the most important thing to recognize is that communication begins OFF the field. Talk with your defenders to learn what they need from you. Watch film with your coach to learn shooters tendencies. And when you're in the cage, communicate with the goal of seeing the shots you want to see, and putting your defenders in the best position possible to succeed. If you do this. everything else you do in the cage will be easier, and the same goes for your teammates!