Lacrosse Goalie Tips for Defending Inside Rolls from X | Lax Goalie Rat

Lacrosse Goalie Tips for Defending Inside Rolls from X

Lacrosse Inside Roll From X

An inside roll, also called a crease roll, is a move from an attackman where they drive from behind the goal to a point about 5 yards above GLE and 5 yards away from the goal. They then roll back towards the goal and attempt to score.

Here is a montage of offensive players performing the crease roll:

This offensive move can be a tricky one for goalies to defend.

This post is for defenses and especially goalies who struggle to stop opposing team’s crease rolls.

Defensive Strategy When Attacker Drives From X

First of all, when an attackman drives from X, the proper defensive strategy is to encourage an inside roll.

The general rule is we do not want to get beat over the top. When that happens the attacker gets right in front of the goal and sees the entire 6′ by 6′ cage, a near impossible save for the goalie to make.

Therefore, defensively we do want to encourage the inside roll so that the attacker approaches the goal at a low angle, making the save much easier for the keeper.

Your team’s individual strategy may differ of course but this is the strategy most teams will employ.

The attackman’s goal is to get to “5 & 5” (5 yards above GLE, 5 yards away from the goal). That’s a dangerous spot because if the defender cuts off the top side, the attackman can roll back and still have a lot of room to work with.

A defender should attempt to prevent their opponent from reaching this spot. When the attacker crosses goal line extended, the goalie should give a strong PIPE call indicating to the defender that they should attempt to turn them back towards the goal and into the oncoming cross-crease slide.

The defender needs to stay on the attackman’s top side to prevent the shooter from moving higher and avoiding the slide.

The timing of the cross-crease (or coma) slide is important too. Ideally, the slide arrives right as the attacker gets out of his roll, or shortly thereafter, and thus he’s almost surprised by the slide.

If it arrives too late the attackman will have a good shot on goal and if it arrives too early he can pull out of his dodge and find the open man.

Like every situation when playing defense the long pole should tie up the shooter’s hands by either lifting them or putting pressure on top of the hands to prevent a clean shot at the goal.

As a goalie you should understand how to defend this situation and provide the right leadership so that your defensive unit executes it flawlessly every time.

Many goalies who struggle with defending this type of shot are only focus on their own play. If you defensive unit is properly defending this situation it actually makes the save much easier for the goalie.

Lacrosse Goalie Setup to Defend a Crease Roll

The first part of defending any type of lacrosse shot in getting setup in proper goalie stance.

As I discussed in my post on how to play when the ball is at X, as soon as it becomes apparent that an attackman driving from X is going to goal, we take our position against the pipe.

The goalie should hug that pipe with his foot and hip positioned against the goal post.

Our other foot should be at a 45-degree angle to the goal line thereby putting our body in a position to move laterally to cut of the shot.

The stance looks like this:

Goalie Defend Inside RollLacrosse Goalie Tips

I would prefer that the setup on the left have his hip hugging the pipe too just like the right. But there’s plenty of different styles of lacrosse goaltending.

Notice how their right foot is set at 45 degree angle to the goal line, ready to move in that direction when the attackman drives.

Now that we’re setup in the proper goalie stance we wait for the attackman to make his move.

Stand Your Ground & Be Cool

The most common mistake that lacrosse goalies make in this situation to come off of that pipe in the attempt to follow the shooter.

Most attackman are looking to shoot the shortest distance which is near pipe. So as soon as you leave that near pipe they’ll simply dump the ball into the goal.

So an important tip about defending these types of shots is hug that pipe until the last possible second. Don’t get nervous or anxious and come off of that pipe too soon.

To give us the best chance to make this save, we want to make the attackman try to beat us to the far pipe.

Be patient and disciplined! Many young goalies get nervous and twitchy in this situation and that’s understandable. However to be a great goalie in this situation you’ve got be cool as a cucumber.

Check out how calm ex-MLL goalie Jesse Schwartzman is as attacker bores down on him:

This isn’t quite an inside roll but the same idea applies – let the attacker commit first while the goalie stands his ground and remains cool.

Step and Match Sticks

As the attackman comes out of his inside roll and approaches the goal our eyes should be 100% focused on the ball in his stick.

As he commits to going for the far pipe, we then take a lateral step to cut off the angle and match sticks, meaning our top hand and goalie head goes where his stick head is.

The step will move our body into the path of the shot in the event our stick doesn’t make the save.

Hold your pipe, then step and match sticks when the attacker commits to going far pipe.

That’s it! The advice sounds succinct but let’s not overly complicate things.

Because the ball carrier is so slow to the goal we can run rule out a low-to-high shot. So if the attacker drops his hands and stick, as a goalie anticipate the low shot by lowering your hands and stance.

It’s definitely a lot harder to master in real life so like any element of your game be sure to work and drill this situation as much as you can.

Grab an attackman buddy and have him to 1×1 inside rolls so you can practice holding your pipe and matching sticks. Use tennis balls if you don’t feel like getting bruises.

1×1 Save Fundamentals

These types of shots off inside rolls are really 1×1 saves and principles I discussed in how to make a one-on-one save absolutely apply in that situation.

Those principles are:

  • Eyes focused on the ball in the attacker’s stick
  • Stay Big
  • Stay Calm
  • Hold your ground
  • Match sticks
  • Save the shot, don’t try to body check the shooter

The other important point is nowhere in this post have I mentioned guessing. Don’t guess.

Guessing may work every once in awhile but learning the fundamentals and reacting to the shooter will get you more of these types of saves in the long run.

Know Thy Attacker

This is where the power of video review and scouting come into play.

Most attackman have a go-to move when they want to finish in close.

If an all-star attackman excels at getting to the goal via the inside roll, odds are he finishes the same way nearly every time.

By scouting and watching video on that attackman you can understand his/her tendencies and be better prepared to defend them when the crease roll comes and you’re staring down the attackman 1v1.

This not only goes for defending the shot as a goalie but with this information you can also remind your defenseman how to play this attacker.

For instance, if the attacker has no left hand you could shout “FORCE LEFT” or better yet some predetermined code like “YELLOW” so the attacker doesn’t realize what’s happening.

If the attacker always shoots low you can remind your D man to take away that shot by lifting the hands. If you know the attacker always throws a fake before shooting you can be patient and not bite on the first movement he makes.

Being as prepared as you possibly can will help you make saves.


An inside roll is a move by an attacker, typically dodging from X, that essentially equates into a one-on-one save for the goalie.

The first step in defending this play is ensuring your defense knows how to defend it. This will makes the goalie’s job of making the save way easier.

The second step is to make the save! Hold your ground against the pipe, remain calm, let the attacker make the 1st move, and then match stick to stick.

And remember just one of these types of saves during the course of a game can completely change the momentum and outcome!

Until next time! Coach Damon

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2 thoughts on “Lacrosse Goalie Tips for Defending Inside Rolls from X

  1. If an attack-man is wrapping around from X and he allows fakes before a shot, should I try and push his head away from cage with my stick or should I wait for after his fake? Would this tactic even be effective?

    1. Not sure I follow the question. You’re asking – as a goalie – if you should try to push his head away with your stick? No. I would recommend matching sticks and trying to block his shot. If you know he’s going to throw a fake, then you can wait. But normally when an attackman is driving from X it’s tough to know he they’re going to fake and we have to honor every fake like its a real shot – matching sticks and trying to make the 1×1 save!

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