August 10, 2009

This article appears in the "Your Edge" section of the August issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 300,000-plus members today to start your subscription.


Your Game: Hey Goalies, Get a Grip

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Goalkeepers are an intense breed. They stand their ground and get pelted by dense, rubber-coated bullets coming off opponents’ sticks at speeds that -- in the case of Rob Scherr, a two-time Major League Lacrosse all-star goalie -- sometimes surpass 100 mph.

That’s why some are prone to “white knuckles,” as Scherr says, when they grip their sticks.
Scherr’s easy-come, easy-go demeanor contrasts that of teeth-gritting goalies. A former All-American keeper for Johns Hopkins who has spent six seasons in the MLL -- most recently with the Toronto Nationals -- Scherr disarms us daily with corny and self-effacing humor as the sponsorship manager for US Lacrosse.

Naturally for a tutorial on upper-body mechanics -- how goalies should position their hands and grip their stick -- we turn to one of our own.

HAND AND STICK POSITION

1. Keep your top hand high.

“A lot of goalies play with their hands down in their chest,” Scherr says. “You actually want to have your top hand somewhere in between your top lip and your eyes.”

Keeping your top hand high not only limits the amount of net a shooter sees, but also limits the amount of time it takes for you to get to those high heaters.

So don’t slouch, kid.

2. Keep your top hand in front of your face.

“I extend my arms out all the way, then break my elbows slightly,” Scherr says. “I want to be able to see my entire top hand in my periphery when I’m tracking the ball.

“A lot of goalies keep their top hand next to their ear and have a tough time getting to off-side shots. It takes too much time and they get burned.”
Extending your top hand also allows you to rein in a shot with more cushioning to avoid rebounds or trickles.

3. Keep your stick positioned in the middle of your body at a slight angle.

Not off to the side, down by your knees or straight up-and-down. Especially on feeds from behind or when trying to see around a screen, some goalies compromise their stick position by dropping it or holding it away from their bodies. Avoid such habits.

GRIP

How you flex your top wrist and hold your stick are key factors for goalkeepers.

Let loose the stick for a moment. Take your top wrist and flex it backward, palm out. Now rest the stick in your palm between your thumb and index finger.

That’s your grip.

Gripping your stick this way allows you to turn your stick on a 360-degree plane with no limitations.

Goalies who grip their stick with “white knuckles” and turn their top wrist inside tend to lock their elbow at 90 degrees to accommodate the grip.

“That’s what we call a chicken wing,” Scherr says. “If I have my wrist locked out like that, it’s really tough to get underneath. I’m hurting myself.”


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