Q: What exercises will help improve my reaction time as a lacrosse goalie?
A: Whether your sport is lacrosse, soccer, or hockey, you have a lot to react to as a goalie. To train for it, let's start with simple off-the-field drills and then progress to more complex drills. Here's a sample progression:
1. To begin, stand facing a wall. Have a teammate stand behind you and throw a tennis ball off the wall so it comes back toward you quickly. Your training partner can change the speed and angle of the throw to keep it challenging.
The benefit: This drill works on developing hand-eye coordination to speed up your reaction time. It takes you out of the game in a sense, since you're not reacting to athletes but focusing on the ball and how you move to it from different directions.
2. Repeat the same drill, but this time set up so that you can cover more ground, taking a step or two in either direction to reach the ball. Mix it up so that you start in different positions, such as lying on the ground. Or try it with a lacrosse ball and stick instead of a tennis ball.
The benefit: In a game, you have to recover quickly, transitioning from off-balance positions to react to the ball. This will begin to prepare you to transition from one position to another when you're out on the field.
3. Continue working on the same drill, shifting your weight from side to side to become comfortable changing direction. Crank up the challenge by increasing the complexity of your starting position. For instance, try doing base pogos for 4-6 seconds before your partner throws the tennis ball.
The benefit: You'll teach your brain and body to work together, linking hand-eye coordination work to a drill that helps you stay aware of your posture while performing dynamic movements.
4. Ready to step it up? Go outside, set up agility cones in a shape, and repeat the base pogos, but this time have your partner point to various cones or tell you which cone to move to so you're reacting to what you see and hear.
The benefit: This adds an element of conditioning to an already challenging reaction drill. It'll help you improve reaction time and fitness with a fun drill.