Virtual Goalie
Virtual training. Real life results.

What is a Field General?

January 10, 2018 by Doug Nelson


Field generals are the rarest of lacrosse goalies or defenders. In 17 years, I’ve only coached one goalie and one defender who qualified as field generals. Interestingly, they were brothers. In the past four years, I recall playing against only one obvious field general goalie.

Here’s a simple example: Suppose the goalie sees that a player is about to dodge. It’s usually obvious. If in a crease slide defense, he yells to the crease defender, “Joey, you’re hot. Joey, get ready.” Then, turns to the back of the defense and yells, “Sam, you got the back. Sam!”

In this example, what did the field general do? He directed his troops. He moved them, mentally and physically, into position to protect the goal.

A field general understands the entire defense, and better yet, understands why the defensive coordinator uses each defense.

If the field general understands why we make defensive calls, they can make those calls. That is a tremendous advantage to the team because the defense cannot always hear the coaches.

For example, let’s say your opponent is in a 2-3-1 (from top) and you are in a crease slide defense. Now they rotate into a circle. You no longer have a hot slider. The field general changes the defense immediately to an adjacent slide package.

Be a field general and you’ll be invaluable to your team.

Bad habits goalies should not develop

January 2, 2018 by Doug Nelson


Lacrosse goal-tending is a tough job. You go on runs where you save a lot of goals, then one where you’re giving up goals.

It’s the nature of the position.

When you go on a bad run of goals, believe in your training. Your form is what defines what you do as a goalie. If you lose confidence in your training and your form, all is lost.

When losing confidence, you have an important choice to make. The best players train harder and reinforce their training. Dejected players train less, guess on shots, and blame the defense.

When your confidence slips, train hard and reinforce these top four skills:

  • Attack the ball – If you’re stepping backwards on a shot, you shouldn’t be a goalie.
  • Punch your bottom hand – Don’t give up disastrous rebounds.
  • Position – Check your arcs!!! You may be confident in your arc, but you might be a foot off.
  • Get low on low shots – Whether it’s a bouncer or not, who cares?! Get low on that shot. Do not drop to your knees. Get your butt on your heels.

Make the right choice and perfect these skills and you’ll be back on top of your game.

Why be a goalie

December 19, 2017 by Doug Nelson


Lacrosse goalies are a valuable commodity. It’s that simple. There is only one goalie starter, and they are rarely substituted.

Coaches can find fast players. They can find shifty players. Or find pure shooters. They can find people who are always open. Athletes are everywhere.

You know what’s harder to find? A person who can make saves they “shouldn’t make.” A person who doesn’t care if they get hit by a hard shot. A person who can “see” the ball. A person who directs their defense!

That lacrosse goalie keeps teams in games. That goalie makes a good defense great. That goalie creates a contender.

That goalie is a most valuable player, because they’re hard to find and replace.

Be that goalie, because someone will want you to be their goalie.

Goalie Basics

December 12, 2017 by Doug Nelson


I’ve seen many lacrosse goalies over my years of coaching. Regardless of whether I’m coaching offense or defense, I know what kind of goalie I admire. Here are the basics:

  • Position – Learn your arcs! Know where you are in the arc without looking at the goal.
  • Fearlessness – Don’t be afraid of the ball. Step forward at shots. Attack that ball. Some shots hurt, but learn to ignore it.
  • See the ball – React. Do not guess. The physics of goal-keeping says you have no time to think and react. At 15 yards and 70 miles per hour, you have 0.44 seconds. Training is the key.
  • Bouncers – Many goalies try to read the shot after the bounce. That is wrong. You are stealing 50% or more of your reaction time. Attack the shot and get low. It is easier to come up from getting low than to get low late.
  • Punch your bottom hand – For both high and low shots, punching your bottom hand prevents rebounds.
  • Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Did I mention you need to talk? Tell the defense where the ball is.