Tips for Improving Lacrosse Goalie's Hand Speed | Lax Goalie Rat

Tips for Improving Lacrosse Goalie’s Hand Speed

When we think about the basics of making a save in lacrosse, the first element I teach is – top hand straight to the ball.

You recognize where the shot is going and then move your hands (which controls the stick) to get there.

There are a lot of variables involved in making a save but the quicker a lacrosse goalie’s hand speed the more saves they are going to be able to make.

Simply put a goalie with “quick hands” is going to be better. So naturally, many lacrosse goalies wonder – how can I improve my hand speed?

In this post I’ll share a few tips that I’ve used with lacrosse goalies to improve their hand speed and make them better in the cage.

Wrist Weights

The first set of tips involve practicing with weights. Doing repetitions with weights will build up strength and quickness in those areas and when the weight is removed you’ll feel a lot faster.

One of my preferred methods, wrist weights are great for not only increasing your hand speed, but also increasing wrist strength.

What is great about these hand weights is how you can interchange the weight dependent on the drill/workout.

For example, if you wanted to perhaps do high reps of a particular save technique, you may want to use lower weights such as 3 lbs, for lower repetition, you may want to go higher to 5lbs or more.

It’s good to have variety, and trust me, you’ll want to mix up your wrist weight drills after doing them for a while.

So, what kind of drills can you do with hand weights? Here’s just a few examples:

There are an endless number of things you can do with wrist weights, and with the versatility, you shouldn’t find yourself bored with these drills.

This pair of wrist weights on Amazon can also double as ankle weights.

Weighted Shaft Exercises

Something that’s a bit more lacrosse specific, weighted shafts are a great way to make your hands faster to make those saves.

There are many options to getting a weighted shaft, such as purchasing a Powershaft, or simply filling a standard shaft with something heavy like sand, rocks, or pennies.

Either way, you’ll have some resistance to your shaft, which will definitely help your drive to the ball.

There are quite a few drills that you can do with a weighted shaft, but I’d highly recommend just live shots, either with a tennis ball or an actual lacrosse ball.

Having the simulation of shots coming at you will really help develop in-game situations you’ll face. However, there still drills you can do instead of just taking shots, listed below:

  • Hand-eye drills, ex: (driving shaft to the ball)
  • Weighted D-Pole for off-stick hip drive simulation
  • Clearing drills

When you practice enough with a weighted shaft when you return to normal shaft your hands will definitely feel quicker.

Wrist Strength Exercises

Increasing your grip and wrist strength will not only increase your hand speed, but also your ability to control shots, giving up less rebounds in the end.

There are several workouts you can do in and out of the gym, but it’s always good to mix it up and try new things.

Mixing up your training scheme will not only keep things fresh, but allow you to gain to aspects of strength. Below is a list of exercises/drills that will increase your grip/wrist strength.

As you can tell, there’s quite a few ways to increase your wrist and grip strength in and out of a gym setting. You can find more exercises, but this list is a great start to add to any routine either in the gym or on the field.

As you work these exercises into your routine you’ll find that your wrist strength improves as does your hand quickness.

Wall-Ball Routines

You may be asking yourself, hitting the wall increases hand speed? Absolutely, it does. Just like with increasing the strength there are tons of wall ball drills out there.

First though, let me explain how this works.

In order to have quicker hands, you have to have your eyes track the target. That’s why you always hear goalie drills have the phrase, “hand-eye” attached to it.

The two go hand-and hand, and without training both, you’ll have some faults in your overall game.

So, when doing wall-ball drills, make sure you aren’t overlooking either aspect of your game.

Now, let’s get to some drills themselves. Instead of listing them as prior, I’ll explain some of these drills as they can be a bit confusing, and simply googling them may not give you all the answers.

To start, current Atlanta Blaze goalie, Adam Ghitelman has a great video showing off four wall-ball routines that any goalkeeper of any level can do. Also, these drills can easily have wrist weights, or the weighted shaft applied in for extra difficulty.

Another great drill I like to do is stationary simulation on the wall. In this drill, you set up in your goalie stance and hit each spot a goalie would need to step to make the save. For example, hit stick-side high, off-stick hip, stick-side low, etc…

However, the important thing in this drill is to not step to the ball and make your hands do all of the work. Of course, this takes away fundamentals for a brief time, but remember, this will really work your hand speed and strength, and it’ll even work your core.

Another great drill I’ve found with my time using the wall is quick-sticks using a shortie. This not only increases hand-eye, but will definitely help your hand speed.

Again, any of these drills can have the addition of wrist weights and similar items to the drills to add extra difficulty.

Boxing Drills

Next we have boxing drills. These drills really focus on the fundamentals of hand-eye coordination and is a great way to learn repetition.

Like most of these drills, there is countless information out there for you to take advantage of, but of course I’ll list some that will translate over well into the goalie position.

  • Heavy bag
  • Speed bag
  • Shadowboxing
  • Dumbbell shadowboxing

These few drills listed above are tremendous for us goalies, as it builds up muscle memory, wrist, forearm, and hand strength, as well as tracking objects.

Also, it should be noted that when hitting the bag, make sure you have designated areas as your target, so you’re getting the full hand-eye experience.

As we all know, us goalies have a few screws loose, and you can even hop in the ring and do a few rounds of sparring if you’d like. It’d work on areas such as cardio and footwork.

Some Additional Exercises to Increase Hand Speed

Here are 3 additional exercises you can work into your routine to increase your goalie’s hand speed.

Alternate Plate Tap – Start in push position with a 45lb plate in front of you. Alternate tapping the plate with left hand, then right hand and repeat

Lateral Plate Tap – Assume push-up position one to two inches to right of 45-pound plate. Tap plate with left hand, then right hand. Touch hands to ground on opposite side of plate to return to start position; immediately perform in opposite direction.

In and Out Plate Tap Drills – Assume push-up position with 45-pound plate between hands. Simultaneously tap plate with both hands. Touch hands to ground and repeat as fast as possible.

Here’s a video of those 3 drills in action:


See ball, move hands to ball. That’s a save at its most basic and to move your hands quickly great goalies rely on excellent hand speed.

There are more elements to making consistent saves of course but hand speed is very important.

If you’re looking to improve your hand speed this post outlines several methods you can incorporate into your workout routine.

Until next time! Coach Damon

Any other exercises or techniques you do to work on your hand speed? Let me know about it in the comments. 

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