There are many conflicting theories on where a goalie should stand in the goal to be most effective. It is our position that goalies should play an extremely shallow arc or very close to the goal line. The lacrosse goal is six feet by six feet and lacrosse goalies do not wear many pads. Therefore, it is unlike hockey where a goalie can take away angle by coming far out of the goal.
Many goalies who play a high arc, or who play way far out of the goal, usually get lost when moving from pipe to pipe. This puts them in bad position and allows them to get beat on shots that should not go in. This also gives them less time to react to quick passes.
The other reason for playing far back in the goal is that lacrosse players are shooting extremely hard now with the new stick technology that is available. A lacrosse goalie needs as much time to be able to react as possible. By sitting back in the goal, it gives him enough time to react to any shot, no matter how hard or how close.
Playing back on the goal line makes it easy to move from pipe to pipe. The goalie only needs to take small steps and keep his hips square to the shooter. When the ball is directly at the top center of the field, then the goalie wants to have both his heels barely touching the goal line. As the ball moves to top left, the goalie takes tiny steps, keeping his left foot on the goal line and bringing his right foot up a few inches. The goalie should picture two lines coming out of his shoulders and pointing out towards the shooter, like a target. Both of these techniques allow the goalie to keep his body square to the shooter. The further down the left side of the field that the ball carrier gets, the further over the goalie should get his left foot to the pipe while keeping it on the goal line, and the higher his right foot should come off the goal line.
Many young goalies go to the pipe too soon. Right when the ball carrier starts sweeping to the left side of the field, the goalie gets his left foot on the pipe. This leaves the whole right side of the goal open. Goalies have to realize that when shooters sweep from the center to the left side of the field, with the stick in their right hand, that they want to shoot across their body and to the right side of the goal. Goalies can help themselves by staying more towards the middle of the goal until the shooter gets far to one side or the other. If he makes small movements and keeps the shooter between the two imaginary lines pointing out of his shoulders, then the goalie will most likely be in good position. If he feels like he has to take a huge step to save the ball, then he is probably out of position. If he feels like he could not get to a shot that went in, the same thing is probably true.
A goalie’s philosophy should be to make it as easy on him and as hard on the shooter as possible. Being in good position does both. It makes it easy for the goalie to get to all shots and it makes it hard on the shooter because there is not much net to shoot at. You will know that your goalie is in good position when the other team starts missing a lot of shots.