For the Coaches: How Do You Pick Out a Good Goalie?

For this one, we’re going to go wayyy back, to the very beginning. How in the world as a coach do you pick a goalie? What natural characteristics do you need to succeed? Whether you’re coaching at the lower levels, or both your goalies get hurt and you’re at a loss for what to do. How do you know who will be the right person to step up to the challenge?

In my ideal world, you’d look out for the toughest kid. You know the one that everyone is too scared to go against for a one on one ground ball. The one you can always hear from the next field. The one that can beat anyone in a race. That’s the girl you want to be your goalie.

This is not to say if you’re less athletic, less tough, or less vocal you wouldn’t make a good goalie. You just wouldn’t make a naturally skilled goalie. You’d have to work twice as hard to get to the next level. I don’t think this is wrong at all.

However, what usually happens is coaches put their most unathletic kids there, which frustrates me in so many ways. The beauty of lacrosse is that women of all shapes and sizes excel. You can play any position you want to. I’m frustrated because it has created the stereotype that all goalies are this way when a girl who might not have the best sprint or endurance could just as easily excel on attack. However, I’m also frustrated because it makes those girls feel othered. Trust me, goalie can be a lonely position at times, and as I said before anyone can excel at any position doesn’t matter what your weight, height, BMI, any of that. If you can play, you can play. Personally, I know I could never play midfield but again, that’s just me.

I was going to edit it out, but I’m going to keep it because I always want to show that no one is perfect. I’d actually like to take back my first sentence in the previous paragraph because if you’re stepping foot onto a lacrosse field you are an athlete. Just because goalies run less doesn’t make them any less athletic than someone who can shoot the ball really hard. It’s just two different types of athleticism.

My point here is yes, there are “signs” that you can look for that will naturally work well for some more than others in the goal. It’s important to contrast if you get a girl that has zero of those signs, but shows up with a smile and actively wants to learn more about the position, I'd coach that girl all the time. In the end, all that matters is that the girl wants to be in there and is having fun.

As you can see from the college game, there are all different styles of play, sizes and shapes out there that succeed. There isn’t one size fits all or a one style fits all. It’s the job of the coach to adapt. I think a lot of coaches miss the mark there, trying to make high school and college goalies something they’re not. I think there are always ways to improve technique even if it’s different than what you’re used to. Just like how some girls cradle or shoot differently than others. They’re good at it, so coaches leave it alone. Now, if they're getting crushed, we know that's a totally different ball game. Just a little tid bit there. Hope this helps! Have a great one! :) Until tomorrow ...