GOALIE THOUGHTS – CLEARING YOUR BRAIN TO CLEAR THE BALL -
A goalie can dictate what happens during transition, and how to connect the clearing dots. Goalies can do this with leadership that for the most part only Goalies tend to have. It comes from the brain, of course, with some coach added in like a little bird sitting on the shoulder, and it is manifested by both body language of and what comes out of the mouth of the Goalie.
THE PATH IS WHAT GETS YOU THERE
Lest we forget, the lacrosse Goalie is the player who must find ways to take getting repeatedly stung all over by a very hard rubber ball that makes black and blue marks on the body, and morph those minor and major tortures into a fun and pleasurable overall lacrosse experience.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TEAM ENERGY
Make only smart passes from the Goalie Position that will teach players on the team exactly what choices are the good ones. Situations repeat in lacrosse as they do in life, and the quicker a player can recognize the familiar the better he is equipped to create good fresh stuff for his team.
Clearing is more than a plan. It is an attitude as well, as in something like, “Here we come, and you can’t stop us!”
A LITTLE MATH CAN TAKE YOU FAR
Always never, throw a pass without good geometry. Got it? Get it more.
In all clearing situations, inbounds and or dead ball, the Goalie that has the ball can also have the keys to the car. Be sure players move toward the Goalie to get the ball thrown to them, and square up, too, even though they really want to take the rock all the way the other way. A fast break can never happen when the ball is sitting or bouncing around on the ground.
FINDING AND USING THE 2 ON 1
With the Goalie position itself, all teams clearing the ball have a built-in 7-6 man-up advantage on the defensive half of the field. It is up to the Goalie to work his team to find the place and time when the best advantage presents itself, and to make numbers work in the best team way. Break it down all the way to the 2 on 1 whenever possible, even if that ends up being on the far end of the field. It’s 7 on 6, to 6 on 5, to 5 on 4, to, well, you get it.
ONLY AS STRONG AS THE WEAKEST LINK
As a Goalie, look for guys to connect easily or well with and really look for that guy or those guys at certain kinds of moments. At the same time a Goalie must also be versatile enough to run a defense and to clear the ball with whoever might be on the field with the same colored shirts just then.
Make sure that whoever carries the ball over the midline during a clear is not just the ‘Christian’ being thrown into a lion’s den furnished all nice by the riding team and a long stick or two. The Goalie has that kind of potential power over the game. Remember that the clear isn’t really a clear until the offense gets a chance to do some work.
YOU PRACTICE HOW YOU PLAY AND YOU PLAY THE WAY YOU PREPARE
How, where, and who a Goalie passes to during a clear is something that should be orchestrated in certain familiar ways that have real, fundamental guidelines. The clearing process is a beautiful part of the team game to watch, and when woven just right it can also showcase, and or bring out the best in individual players and the particular skill package they might bring to the game.
AVOID GOING OVER DISASTER PASS
Goalies also have power in the passes that they don’t or won’t throw. Goalies can make it so players can catch the ball successfully and move it up-field at a much higher rate when they decide who gets the ball and the way they are moving when they get the ball. It’s great to pass to someone that is coming with the stick squared up as a target that is ready to receive the pass. Moving to the ball naturally creates good team flow. As a Goalie, almost never throw the pass to any of that infamous ‘herd of turtles’ running away from you and all hoping for the same heaven sent fast break pass from the Goalie.
As a Goalie, be quick but never throw the hurried outlet pass. There is plenty of time on any current clock rule used out there in Lax Land to get a clear comfortably done. Especially nix the bad pass idea that could possibly in any way end up putting the ball down in the middle of the field not that far from the goal your team is defending.
MEET BOBBY KNIGHT
Goalies should know if the pass they are about to make has a chance to be looked back on later as a stupid one and act accordingly by being smart. After all, what is worse than a misconnection on an over-the-shoulder outlet pass to a guy that would catch maybe 2 out of 100 just like it? You mostly get what you deserve, and way too often that ‘my bad’ turns over and into a ‘pick six’ for the other guys, an interception for a touchdown as it were, or however one may want to describe that next series of ugly events that follow a kind of a ‘stupid pass’ selection? This ultimate “My Bad” is seen at all levels of play, not just lower ones Sometimes the truth is not about that HE should have caught it, and it is much more about the pass that shouldn’t happen at that place and in that moment. Games can turn on those moments.
THROW IN A LITTLE SPIELBERG
The Goalie has the lead to orchestrate the ball movement proceedings and he can make his own version of The Clear, the movie, into an ‘Oscar’ winner by how he picks the kinds of clearing passes that he, or even another is throwing. If a goalie will only throw the ball to a player if he is doing the ‘right’ thing, that player will do the right thing and bark like Pavlov’s dog every time
BECAUSE IN THE END IT IS ONLY THE LONELY GOALIE
Never forget that in many, many ways Goalie Man must get things systematically across to the team in front of him that is helping to keep the ball out of ‘our’ goal. That part of communication really needs to be on point. When the Goalie trains them well on defense and on the clear as well, they in turn will be obedient, cohesive defenders. Team success will fall from a loaded wagon.