It is one of the most important parts of practice or game day for a goalie and can set the tone for a good performance or a bad one. Some goalies prefer a long one, some a short one. Some like shots from a distance, some in close. Some like hard shots, some like soft.
There are no two identical goalie warm ups at any level of lacrosse. Every goalie is different in how they like to get warmed up. Some like a coach to do it, some like a teammate to do it. The variations are endless.
Growing up I remember going to a college lacrosse game at Birmingham Seaholm between Notre Dame and Denver and watching the Notre Dame goalie pregame. As a goalie, I wanted to watch the goalie get warmed up to see if there was something I could learn. As warm ups went on and the game approached, I noticed the goalie still had not gotten shot on. He was stretching, hydrating, and staying loose joking around with staff and teammates at the bench area. With ten minutes to game time he finally got into the cage and faced 15-20 shots then went into the locker room. I thought to myself, "that's it?" "he's really warmed up for a division I game with 15-20 shots?" This goalie then went on to have a very good performance in the game and a stellar career at Notre Dame. Every goalie is different.
Fast forward many years later to coaching at VMI. The starting goalie at the time was in a mid season slump and we thought of ways to work him out of it. We decided to change his warm up at practice. Unlike many goalies we now started to warm him up low to high instead of the traditional high to low. Every goalie is different.
Personally, I was a fan of a long warm up. Coaches often complained about getting blisters on their hands from the lengthy warm up throughout the season. On a typical college game day, my warm up went like this:
- Play 10-15 minutes of wall ball with both sticks in the athletic facility where our locker room was located
- Relax and listen to music in my stall prior to getting dressed in equipment
- Head out to the field with our coach and other goalies 70 minutes prior to game time
- Stretch as the other goalie was warmed up first
- Warm up 20-25 minutes with coach moving in a semi circle shooting high shots, hip level shots, low shots, then bounce shots
- Finish warm up with shots all over and outlet passes to the other goalies
- Grab a drink of water then throw long passes with the other goalies
- Do a few reps of team drills
- Save 5-10 last minute shots from coach right before the opening face off
Doing this helped me get "in the zone" and ready to compete. Every goalie is different.
As you are trying to find the right warm up for you, here are some tips to remember:
- Routine: Do the same warm up (on field) in practice and games. Try to have the same person warm you up daily whether it be a coach or teammate.
- Plan B: Have a back up warm up. Buses may be late to games, weather delays, etc can all cause a warm up to be shortened.
- Preparation: Have your sticks ready for warm up. Warm up is not the time to be messing with your strings. A slight adjustment may be needed but have your sticks ready to go.
- Own your warm up: A goalie can be a little selfish in warm ups. If you feel comfortable and are ready to go get out of the cage. The team can shoot on an empty cage.
- Be active: Get a sweat in during warm up to get your body moving and blood flowing before the game.
- Comfort: Find a warm up that gets you into a good rhythm and allows you to feel comfortable before practice or a game.
- Pause: If warm up is not going well, pause the warm up to refocus. Take a deep breath or a quick walk, talk to your coach for a minute, do something to take your mind off the game. These days will happen.
Finding the right warm up for you may take a long time. For some it can take months or even years. Try new ideas, new drills, and be creative when it comes to your warm up.
Comment below with any feedback, ideas, or suggestions to a great warm up!