Among the differences that female lacrosse goalies encounter is the special play called the 8-meter shot.
If a female ball carrier is fouled inside the 8 meter arc, she gets a free position shot at the closest hash on the arc. All defenders located inside the arc at the time of the foul are also positioned on the closest spot on the arc but always at least 4 yards away from the shooter.
For the Lax Goalie Rat podcast I recently spoke with Team USA goalie Liz Hogan (episode coming soon!!) who broke down her approach on how to best make saves on 8-meter shots.
What’s the strategy? What are some techniques you can do to increase your save percentage?
Read the Situation
Your first step is to read the entire situation. This will help dictate how we setup.
So what pieces of information are you looking for?
On which hash is the shooter setup?
Where are your defenders located?
Where are the offensive teammates located?
Who has the ball?
The more towards the center hash a ball carrier is located the more of a threat to shoot they are.
If the ball carrier is surrounded by defenders you know she likely cannot maneuver left or right and you can a take a little more aggressive approach with a higher arc.
On the contrary, if no defenders are close to the ball carrier during the restart the shooter can maneuver left or right before firing a shot and thus we don’t want to be as aggressive in our arc for fear of being caught out of position as the ball carrier might be able to advance all the way to the crease.
If there is only a single defender on one side, you know the ball carrier will not dodge in that direction and can be better prepared.
If you know the offense’s top scorer has the ball you can fully expect a shot. If a role player starts with the ball while an open offensive player is close to the goal you can expect a pass.
Understanding all these elements will help you be prepared once that whistle blows. Increasing your chance of saving the 8-meter shot.
Each free position shot is a little different in terms who has the ball, where they’re starting from, and where your defenders are located. So be sure to take it all in prior to the whistle to best know how to defend the play.
The 8-meter shot for a goalie is similar to a free throw for a basketball player.
Going through the same routine prior to shooting a free throw was scientifically proven to increase your chances of making the shot!
While the same study hasn’t been done in the women’s lacrosse world, I can pretty much guarantee you the results would also be true. Pre-shot (or pre-save) routines work!
Lady goalies who go through the same physical routine prior to a shot will make more saves.
Each pre-save routine is unique to the goalie. Your pre-save routine could be any combination of the following:
Turn and face the goal
Checking the pipes
Squatting down and jumping up
Hitting your facemask with your shaft
Yelling a positive affirmation
The list goes on and on.
The pre-save routine will also help block those distracting thoughts that interfere with your performance. Things like crowd noise, fans waving their arms, worrying about giving up a goal, thoughts of past misses, the score, teammates, spectators or parents.
By focusing on your pre-save routine, you normalize the free position shot. You lessen the sense of pressure you feel and take your mind off of that fear of missing the save and giving up a goal.
In this way the pre-save routine will help you mentally as much as it does physically.
So develop your own pre-save routine and put it into action before every 8-meter shot. This will increase your chances of making the save.
Direct the Defense
As a goalie, remember you are the leader of the defense.
So you need to ensure that all defenders know their roles during the restart play.
Who is going to cover the ball? Who is going to cover an open attack player? Who is going to chase an errant shot?
All this type of communication can and should occur prior to the shot and as a goalie its imperative that you, and every single defender, are on the same page once that whistle blows.
Practice 8-Meters When Tired
Growing up I had a basketball coach that said – anyone can hit a free throw when they’re fresh. I want players who can sink the shot with 0:01 on the clock after running up and down the court for 45 minutes.
The point here is making a save is easier when you’re fresh and 100% mentally alert.
But when your body gets tired and you start to lose it a little mentally, the saves become tougher and tougher.
So be sure to practice taking a few 8-meter situations at the end of practice when your body is tired.
Or run a few sprints right before the whistle blows to start the restart the 8-meter to simulate being the end of game scenario.
This will help train your body and mind to make the save in the 4th quarter with 0:01 on the clock.
Scout Players if You Can
I find that many female lacrosse players make the same moves over and over again on 8-meter restarts.
Even just knowing whether they fire on the whistle, take 1-2 step and then fire, or prefer to dodge as close to goal as possible before shooting can aid us in being better prepared to make the save.
If you don’t have video or a scouting report on the team your playing, it’s not the end of the world. But any piece of information we can use to better increase our chances of saving an 8-meter should be used.
8-Meter Shot Saves
Check out this compilation of saves I made by female goalies off of 8-meter plays.
Based on the position of ballcarrier and the defenders try to guess what the attacker is going to do prior to the whistle.
Lacrosse is my passion! The game has given me so much and this blog is my way of giving back to the lax community. Specifically the most bad a$$ part of that community - the goalies! After learning to play goalie from scratch, I wanted to create a site where I could share what I learned with others so they too can become champions in the crease and in life. Learn more about Coach Damon.